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Author Topic: Cost of safety  (Read 3039 times)

Stephen Swaffer

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Cost of safety
« on: May 31, 2014, 10:38:40 pm »

Quote from Mike from another thread  "For instance, there's a lot of dissension about requiring AFCI breakers in new builds. Now I'm not going to start up that particular debate in this thread (even though it would be interesting), but I know that some southern states have declared "states rights" and don't require their inspectors to require AFCI's. The reason they give is that the $300 additional cost of requiring AFCI breakers on a typical $100,000 build would create a hardship for the developers."

Perhaps we start it here? :)  Actually, it will get worse when the 2014 Code starts to be enforced, but the AFCI debate is really not overly relevant to sound production.  However, the cost of safety is-since most of us cannot write checks as easily as Bill Gates often we must consider cost.  Most of the time safety violations or shortcuts are either caused by lack of knowledge or a desire to keep costs low.  This forum addresses the lack of knowledge issue, what about cost?

I used to argue the $300 added cost (in Iowa we also are mandated to install hard wired/dual sensor smoke detectors adding another$200-$300) was an issue-until a State inspector pointed out that a high percentage of new homes were installing granite counter tops and high end appliances. Many people don't think twice about an additional $300 or more to install upgraded countertops/appliances/or whatever-but then those things "wow"their friends at the house warming-AFCIs? not so much.

In the sound world we face the same issue-spend money on a new proper distro or a new amp/mixer/speakers?  Which will get the most ooohs and ahhs from our customers/friends?  The reality is a business has to do those things that will bring in more customers- no one will hire you cause you have an awesome distro-but often the value is a matter of perspective, and we all (we means me too) have a tendency to think bad things happen to the other guy.

The $300 for AFCis might be too much for the homeowner at his house warming-but what would the value be to the firefighter searching for a child in a smoke filled home?

How much will one accident cost you in bad publicity, to say nothing of legalities and lost sleep?  Probably preaching to the choir here-but just trying to encourage people to view safety costs in the right  perspective.
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Steve Swaffer

Jonathan Johnson

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Re: Cost of safety
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2014, 01:22:27 am »

I think that safety -- even when it costs -- is just good business. While your bid may be higher than some joe who cuts corners, you'll both build a reputation. The contractor that does things safely is also likely to pay attention to detail and quality in other areas as well. The safe contractor will lose a few jobs but be in business for years; the shoddy joe will be off trying some other venture when his reputation means no one will hire him.

I think it's somewhat of a stretch to equate AFCIs with granite countertops, because those are different trades. Equating it with high-end lighting fixtures would probably make more sense. Sure, many people buy a package from a general contractor, but AFCIs get cut because the electrician is trying to compete with other electricians. If there's a few hundred dollars difference in two subs' bids, which one will the GC pick? Does the GC even know or care that one bid specs AFCIs and the other doesn't?

That's one of the dangers of subcontracting: the end customer often has little or no interaction with the actual contractors doing the work, and most consumers are clueless about anything other than cosmetics.
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Stop confusing the issue with facts and logic!

Lyle Williams

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Re: Cost of safety
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2014, 05:32:08 am »

People don't seem to blink an eye at thousands of dollars for speakers, but get bent out of shape buying any power leads not from a thrift shop.

Do your power to the applicable code.  If there is something required that you don't have, put it on your shopping list.  At the top.  Yes, the next thing you buy isn't going to be that waaay coool subwoofer.
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Mike Sokol

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Re: Cost of safety
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2014, 02:26:55 pm »

Also remember that sometimes it's not a direct monetary cost. A lot of it is the cost of "time". That is, you need to make it to the gig early enough that you can confirm power without being rushed by the rest of the crew. When I was doing outside stage tech and in charge of the genny I always tried to get to the location at least an hour in advance of everyone else. That way I could step off the feeder, inspect the grounding system, check fuel level, fire up the generator and check voltages at each position BEFORE the crew started hollering for power. Also this was a great time to confirm if the squints needed an extra neutral tap before the genny was running. I actually had one lighting guy suggest I pull the neutral cam-lock off so he could put in a T while the genny and distro was powered up.  >:(  Of course, that's about the worse possible thing you can do. But as you know, once the generator power is up, nobody wants to take it down for a minute to tap in anything. Getting this all sorted out early is really the best policy, and only costs you some extra time. For my own crew that was being paid a day-rate, that extra hour cost us no dollars (but I would always bring breakfast sandwiches). I would assume that other crews might get paid extra for the early start, but I still think that's worth the $$$ expenditure since one mistake can easily cost thousands of dollars in smoked gear PLUS the potential for loss of life.

Safety is our business (or at least it should be).
« Last Edit: June 01, 2014, 03:30:40 pm by Mike Sokol »
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Mike Sokol
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: Cost of safety
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2014, 03:54:42 pm »


I think it's somewhat of a stretch to equate AFCIs with granite countertops, because those are different trades. Equating it with high-end lighting fixtures would probably make more sense. Sure, many people buy a package from a general contractor, but AFCIs get cut because the electrician is trying to compete with other electricians. If there's a few hundred dollars difference in two subs' bids, which one will the GC pick? Does the GC even know or care that one bid specs AFCIs and the other doesn't?


The "debate" Mike referred to was taking place at the code making level-presumably every bid would have to meet those specs.
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Steve Swaffer

Mike Sokol

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Re: Cost of safety
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2014, 04:46:48 pm »

The "debate" Mike referred to was taking place at the code making level-presumably every bid would have to meet those specs.

Yeah, and the NFPA 70 code has no real power to enforce compliance at a state or local level. It's up to each state and inspector to choose what's important and what parts of the NEC to enforce. That's why there's so much variation in electrical systems even with new builds. Don't get me started on old construction that's been grandfathered in.   
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Mike Sokol
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Re: Cost of safety
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2014, 04:46:48 pm »


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