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Q: My question is about an electrical panel. Is an electrical panel, which is located in a special care unit of a skilled nursing home facility, required to be locked if the residents can access the panel?
A: The 2012 Life Safety Code and the NFPA 99-2012 Health Care Facilities Code do not have specific standards that prohibit unlocked electrical panels in existing conditions. (NFPA 99-2012, section 22.214.171.124.1.3 does limit access for new construction or renovation situations.). However, CMS and the accreditation organizations will expect these electrical panels to be inaccessible by people who are not authorized, and some AHJs even have specific standards that prohibit it.
But the bottom line is, any surveyor could cite you for unauthorized access to electrical panels if they believe there was a potential for danger to a patient. An example would be an unlocked circuit breaker panel in a public corridor that controls power to electrical receptacles in a patient room. That would likely draw a finding from a surveyor under a standard that requires you to have a safe environment for your patients. My suggestion is that you should lock all of your electrical panels.