T&D World Magazine

Dennis Neitzel: Safety Monitor

The most important issue in the electrical industry is safety, and Dennis Neitzel has spent years informing people that electrical hazards are real and that they respect no one.

“Electricity needs a path and will take the path of least resistance and too many times that path is through the human body, resulting in shock or electrocution,” Neitzel said.

However, Neitzel teaches about a lesser-known danger: arc flash hazards. He will be presenting a course at T&D University in October about this subject, and students attending the course will be able to:

  • Identify the common causes of an arc-flash.
  • Describe the regulations and standards requirements for performing an arc-flash hazard analysis.
  • Identify the major electrical system components required for performing an arc-flash calculation.
  • Identify the personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements for the arc-flash hazard.
  • Identify arc-flash mitigation techniques.

“Recent reports indicate that there are five to 10 arc-flash incidents, requiring burn center treatment, in North American per day, with one to two per day being fatal,” Neitzel said. “An understanding of the common causes of arc-flash, the magnitude of the arc-flash energy and arc-flash hazard mitigation are vital to keeping employees safe.”

Neitzel is currently the director of the AVO Training Institute in Dallas, which is a worldwide leader in electrical training, safety and engineering services. He has 40 years of experience in electrical utility and industrial facilities and systems with an extensive background in electrical safety. He directs all functions of the training institute.

AVO specializes in electrical safety training and training in the maintenance and testing of all types of electrical equipmentincluding circuit breakers, protective relays, transformers, substations, switchgear, batteries, cables and motor control. It also offers safety assessments, procedures and program review and development; electrical power engineering services including arc-flash hazard analysis, short-circuit and coordination studies; and a technical resource center, an online store offering books, standards, training materials, personal protective equipment, and insulated hand tools.

Neitzel’s career field was chosen for him in 1967 when he joined the U.S. Air Force. He scored high on the electrical section of the aptitude test and his teaching career began when he was assigned as the primary trainer for incoming electricians in the early 1970s.

“I thoroughly enjoyed working in the electrical field and had already received a great deal of schooling through Air Force schools that I could not justify changing to another field,” Neitzel said.

He took classes over the years and eventually completed his Bachelor’s Degree in electrical engineering management. He went on to earn his Master’s Degree in electrical engineering applied sciences. These degrees were an accomplishment with his full-time job and five children.

He also worked as a licensed journeyman electrician for various contractors for a few years where he had the responsibility to teach (mostly on-the-job) apprentice electricians. In the early 1980s, while working for EG&G Idaho at the Idaho National Laboratory, he was assigned as the training and safety coordinator for the Power Management Branch. Before moving into project engineering in about 1986, he was training specialist for Westinghouse (also at the Idaho National Laboratory) for a couple of years.

Neitzel has been with AVO Training Institute since 1989 and has been director since 2000. Since joining AVO, he has served in various engineering and training positions.

Besides the arc flash hazard course at T&D University, Neitzel will also be conducting a 4-hour tutorial at the IEEE Pulp and Paper Conference (June 24-29) in Williamsburg, Virginia. The tutorial is on NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace and is titled “Understanding NFPA 70E-2004 Requirements.”

With the arc-flash hazards course at T&D University as with any of his other courses, Neitzel hopes to instill in everyone who attends a desire to follow the requirements and guidance of the OSHA regulations and the NFPA 70E concerning electrical safety, safe work practices and procedures, and personal protective equipment to protect themselves from this potentially deadly electrical hazard.

“I love what I am doing,” he said. He educates workers to help prevent injury and death. He also loves to be with his wife of 40 years in which he shares many common interests such as gardening, landscaping, shopping and grandkids.

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