by Katrina Reed, on Mar 3, 2021 12:00:00 AM
Q: We have a pharmacy in our critical access hospital. It was recently moved to another location within the hospital building. When some base cabinets and counters for work space were installed, electrical wall outlets were covered with the cabinets, instead of having them abandoned or relocated above the counter. This was discovered during an in-house EOC survey of the pharmacy department. Our safety committee needs to have this situation corrected, but we would like to know the regulation that addresses this issue, so we can justify the expenditure to have the electrical work done. I imagine this is found in the NEC, but is there anything in NFPA 101 or NFPA 99 that addresses this as well?
A: Receptacles in a Pharmacy are not required to be tested, so I don’t see any need to have these outlets removed or relocated, unless of course, you need the use of them.
Readers, after the above Q&A was posted, I received numerous responses pointing out that I was incorrect in my answer. NFPA 70-2011, Article 314.29 says this about electrical boxes, conduit, and other enclosures:
Boxes, conduit bodies, and handhole enclosures shall be installed so that the wiring contained in them can be rendered accessible without removing any part of the building or, in underground circuits, without excavating sidewalks, paving, earth, or other substance that is to be used to establish the finished grade.
The National Electrical Code also has requirements about not having boxes enclosing flush devices being installed behind combustible materials, such as cabinets made of wood. So, it is not permitted to hide outlets behind cabinets and other wall-mounted devices.
I regret the error that I made and I thank the many readers who took the time to point that out to me.