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The ASCO Joint Commission Reporting Package

There are multiple reasons why facilities implement a backup power system testing program. Among them, it is simply necessary to test backup power systems periodically to verify that they remain able to provide emergency power whenever outages occur on the normal power source.

Not only is routine testing a best practice, but it can also be required by industry codes. For instance, NFPA 99 – Health Care Facilities Code calls for healthcare facilities to implement a regular program of testing in accordance with NFPA 110 – Standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems, which specifies minimum test requirements for backup power systems. NFPA 70 – National Electrical Code requires testing according to equipment manufacturer directions as well as the requirements of authorities having jurisdiction and refers to NFPA 99 for guidance on periodic testing.

The Joint Commission Test Requirements

In the USA, The Joint Commission accredits hospitals and their operations, and this accreditation is a condition for reimbursement from insurance programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. The Joint Commission’s Hospital Accreditation Standards set forth criteria for managing and testing emergency power systems. Some of the requirements direct users to the NFPA standards for additional information. Several key requirements are shown in the following table.

Elements of Performance for Genset Testing

Requirement ID
Description
Frequency
EC 02.05.07 EP 4 Inspect the entire EPSS, including all components and batteries* Weekly
EC 02.05.07 EP 5 Test each generator from a cold start for at least 30 minutes under load Monthly
EC 02.05.07 EP 6 For diesel-powered generators tested under EC 02.05.07 EP 5 above, test under dynamic load equalling 30% or more of nameplate rating or at the exhaust gas temperature recommended by the manufacturer. Non-diesel gen-sets may be tested using the available load. Monthly
EC 02.05.07 EP 7 Test all automatic and manual transfer switches Monthly
EC 02.05.07 EP 8 Test fuel quality to ASTM Standards Annually
EC 02.05.07 EP 9 Test each genset for four hours Triennial
EC 02.05.07 EP 10 For diesel-powered generators tested under EC 02.05.07 EP 9 above, test at 30% or more of nameplate rating under static or dynamic load or at the exhaust gas temperature recommended by the manufacturer. Non-diesel gen-sets may be tested using the available load. Triennial
*EPSS - Emergency Power Supply System, as defined in NFPA 110
Testing Challenges

The Hospital Accreditation Standards specify using a dynamic load such as building load, which can change from moment to moment. During monthly tests, generators must be continuously loaded to at least 30 percent of their nameplate capacity (or a minimum engine exhaust temperature) for at least 30 minutes. For more information, see the ASCO Power Technologies document entitled Load Banks for Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities.

Based on the referenced standards, an effective test program involves at least 12 test events per year, including a longer annual test, and many healthcare facilities conduct weekly tests as well. This requires facilities to schedule the events and dedicate the necessary personnel. Among their duties will be the recording of data and the compiling of reports, which must be available for Joint Commission auditors, whose work influences the accreditation or re-accreditation of a healthcare facility.

Recording data sounds straightforward, but the task is made onerous by the amount of information required. In a facility that uses engine-generators, paralleling switchgear, and automatic transfer switches, salient information is required from each device. The following parameters are just some of the information needed to assess whether the performance of a backup power system has complied with code requirements. For gensets and paralleling gear, this includes the times at which Engine Start Signals were applied and removed, as well as the power output of the generator and the exhaust temperature of its engine. For transfer switches, this includes the time when the utility source became unacceptable, when the corresponding transfer was initiated, the resulting switch position, and times when delays were invoked and synchronization was achieved.

The traditional method for obtaining this information was to manually record it, which requires someone to travel to equipment; inspect an interface; and record the needed values. The scale of the collection effort becomes clearer when the quantity of devices and frequency of testing are considered. A central hospital in a small city could be equipped with four generators, extensive paralleling switchgear line-ups, and three dozen transfer switches. Trying to effectively obtain the needed data presents multiple problems.

Discontinuous Data: The Joint Commission criteria require 30 or more percent load for a minimum of 30 minutes. If the amount of load drops below 30 percent at any moment, the test is noncompliant. Manually checking displays on generators can result in discontinuous data.

Limited Real-Time Feedback: When equipment is located throughout the facility, it is difficult to simultaneously assess the equipment status and circuit conditions. Instead, staff may need to move across a facility each time data is needed from a device. This can be surmounted by adding some form of data logger to each device, but the feedback will not be in real-time; rather one can verify whether the results are compliant only after a test is over and someone travels to each device to collect the data.

Human Error: Data collection may also require personnel to operate controllers to obtain the data. This offers opportunities for human error when (1) operating the controls, and (2) reading or recording the data.

Labor-Intensive Reporting: Manually recording data usually means manually compiling test reports. If the data is written, it typically needs to be entered manually into a spreadsheet for evaluation. If the information was logged on each device, the files need to be downloaded and compiled into a spreadsheet. Thereafter, an evaluation is performed to verify whether the data meet the Joint Commission requirements. In many instances, a non-compliant condition may first be noted long after the test event is complete.

The Advantages of the ASCO Joint Commission Reporting Package

ASCO’s Joint Commission Reporting Package logs data from enabled critical power devices via Modbus, evaluates and annunciates conditions in real-time, then automatically compiles test data into reports and distributes these to authorized recipients. It solves the challenges associated with backup power system testing as follows.

Continuous Data Logging: The Joint Commission Reporting Package is based on the same platform that powers ASCO’s acclaimed Critical Power Monitoring Appliances. This solution establishes communications between critical power devices to collect the operating data needed for verifying compliance. Continuous data logging at each device is centrally recorded by an industrial-grade personal computer, avoiding data gaps that could result in a non-compliant result.

Actual Real-Time Feedback: Because test data is continually sent to a central device for processing and storage, real-time feedback can be gained in multiple ways:

• First, the data from all monitored devices can be processed and displayed at a central location. This eliminates the need for staff to move about a facility to gather temporally disparate information. Rather, concurrent data from all devices are displayed to provide a complete and accurate real-time description of equipment status and power conditions.
• Second, users can be immediately notified when some parameter of a test is noncompliant. In this instance, a user may elect to extend the test to achieve the needed runtime and collect compliant data before the test run is terminated.

With these capabilities, users can know whether power system data is compliant as it is acquired, not after the test is over. During a test, the system can instantly recognize when the test data violate the “30/30 Rule” and can allow operators to extend a test to capture data from the necessary amount of compliant run-time. Avoiding a negative result can help a facility avoid a corresponding obligation to run a longer and more intense annual test.

Increased Accuracy: Because data are logged without human involvement, there is less potential for errors from misread or misrecorded data. This can increase compliance by avoiding mistakes produced by manual processes, not only in the collection of data but in its evaluation as well.

Labor-Intensive Reporting: When a test is complete, the ASCO Joint Commission Reporting Package automatically compiles a test report, then stores and distributes the records. There is no data entry step and no configuring of spreadsheets to evaluate the result. All this is completed automatically, and data are immediately labeled as “Pass” or “Fail”. Errors in data management and evaluation are avoided because to process is automated. The following figure shows excerpts from a report generated by a Joint Commission Reporting Package.

ASCO’s Joint Commission Reporting Package can also be used to evaluate the performance of backup power equipment used for non-critical and non-safety loads.
Fewer Test Events

When actual utility outages occur, the Joint Commission Reporting Package automatically logs runtime and output and evaluates the data against test criteria. If the outage results in a run that exceeds the 30/30 Rule, it will indicate that the data comprise a compliant test event, potentially enabling a facility to cancel a scheduled test. This outcome supports compliance with the Joint Commission requirements while reducing the disruptions and costs associated with operating the backup power system and transferring load to it.

References

The Joint Commission, Hospital Accreditation Standards,

National Fire Protection Association

NFPA 99 – Health Care Facilities Code,
NFPA 110 – Standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems,
NFPA 70 – National Electrical Code

Further Reading

ASCO White Papers:

The Value of Automated Power Compliance Reporting
Load Banks for Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities

ASCO Technical Briefs:

Joint Commission Genset Testing Requirements
Power Outages Should be an Expected Operating Condition
Is Your Backup Power System Ready? Prove It.

For additional information, contact ASCO Customer Care.