Industrial Electrical Code Violations You Probably Didn’t Know About

As an electrician working in industrial settings, I frequently come across electrical installations that are not up to code. Many facility managers and business owners are unaware of some of the more obscure violations of the National Electrical Code (NEC) that exist in their buildings. In this article, I will cover several industrial electrical code infractions that often fly under the radar.

Improper Conductor Ampacity Ratings

Using undersized wires is one of the most common electrical violations I find. The NEC requires electrical conductors to be sized according to their ampacity, which is the maximum current they can safely carry. Yet, I routinely see circuits wired with conductors that are rated too low for the equipment they supply. For example:

I always recommend upsizing wiring to the next largest standard size to provide a safety margin. It's a small investment that can prevent major problems.

Missing Overcurrent Protection

Overcurrent devices like circuit breakers and fuses are vital for safety. They interrupt excessive current to prevent wire overheating and fires. Yet I frequently find circuits without any overcurrent protection at all, especially for large equipment like HVAC units and industrial machines.

Some examples I see:

This violates NEC requirements for overcurrent protection in nearly every circuit. Properly sized overcurrent devices must be installed to reduce fire risks.

Neutral-Ground Bonding Issues

The neutral and ground wires in an electrical system must be properly bonded according to NEC guidelines. I often discover improper neutral-ground connections in industrial facilities, including:

Proper neutral-ground bonding maintains electrical stability in the system. Having a qualified electrician assess bonding is worthwhile.

Exposed Live Parts

Energized electrical parts like buses, terminals, and connections must be enclosed to prevent accidental contact according to NEC 110.27. Yet I frequently find uncovered live components in industrial settings, creating a risk of dangerous shocks. For example:

Installing proper enclosures and covers for live parts greatly reduces shock risks for workers near electrical systems.

Failure to Provide Overload Protection

Industrial motors and machinery require overload protection under NEC Article 430. This helps prevent overheating and equipment damage if currents exceed safe levels. However, I discover motors and machines without overload protection, including:

Lack of overloads leaves equipment vulnerable to damage, breakdowns, and even fires. Professional installation of overload protection is essential.

Improper Conductor Terminations

Secure, robust connections are vital for safe, reliable electrical systems. However, I find wiring issues like loose connections and undersized lugs frequently in industrial settings. For example:

Proper terminations resist vibration, corrosion, and overheating. It takes some extra effort upfront to make reliable connections that will last.

Inadequate Grounding Electrodes

The NEC requires electrical systems to be grounded to the earth to prevent shocks and stabilize voltage. However, I often discover inadequate grounding in industrial facilities, like:

Regular inspection and improvements to grounding electrodes are needed to account for changes over time. Installing grounding systems to NEC standards provides maximum safety.

Noncompliant Industrial Control Panels

Industrial control panels with PLCs, VFDs, and complex wiring fall under strict NEC standards. But many existing panels do not meet requirements like:

Upgrading outdated industrial control panels is advised to avoid arc flash hazards and improve reliability. Following UL, NEC, and NFPA 79 standards is key.


There are many obscure electrical code requirements that are overlooked in industrial facilities, potentially creating major hazards. As an electrician, I make it a priority to identify and correct issues like undersized wiring, missing overcurrent protection, poor terminations, and inadequate grounding. Staying up-to-date on changing NEC rules and best practices keeps workers safe and prevents electrical fires, failures, and downtime. I recommend having a qualified electrical contractor conduct regular assessments to catch problems before they cause harm. Following code standards takes diligence, but it pays off in better safety and reliability.