The Shocking Truth

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Terry Becker’s ESPS is now part of Danatec

Written by Jenson Quon

Sitting across from Terry Becker, P.Eng., CESCP, IEEE Senior Member, I could feel the energy emanating from him as he was waiting for my questions with great anticipation.

“This is neat, really neat, what you’re doing,” says Terry. You’d think a man of his experience would be used to interviews, perhaps even tired of them, but you can tell he just isn’t. He wants to learn more about me and hopes in turn to pass on some of his knowledge on to me.

Terry Becker started his career in the oil and gas industry as a junior electrical engineer working on capital projects, electrical equipment maintenance and Canadian Electrical Code compliance before he was originally recruited in 1999 by PanCanadian Petroleum, which would eventually evolve into what many know today as Encana Corporation. In the eight years that Terry worked there he also attended many chemical and electrical engineering related conferences. One of these conferences struck a chord with Terry.

“I went to a conference in probably 2004 and there was a presentation on the NFPA 70E Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, and the presentation was on arc flash and I had never heard of arc flash from my schooling as an engineer or in my career up to that point in time,” Terry recounts the seminal moment that would change his career path. “So, I was taken aback and was quite surprised and I saw some videos of arc flash and I said, ‘Wow, we have a problem.’ We don’t have arc flash as an identified hazard at Encana Corporation and we have a lot of electricians doing work for us and this hazard is significant.”

The presentation would also go on to expand more on electric shock as an identified hazard. Both arc flash and electric shock, having not been identified as hazards, really set in motion for Terry a crusade of sorts at Encana and beyond. He realized that very few in his industry knew about this gap in knowledge and he made it his own personal mission to ensure that electrical safety was at the forefront for Encana.

Holding up a yellow copy of the 2018 Edition of the NFPA 70E Standard, he can’t even believe that he has been looking into this for 14 years.

“I talked to some of my colleagues in the industry and no one had heard about or addressed it properly. So, what I think happened was that my passion – my passion was increasing in that there was something here that needed to be solved and I wanted a solution for Encana and for industry at the time. As an industry, we needed to understand arc flash and what an electric shock hazard was.”

In 2005, Terry created Alberta’s first volunteer arc flash committee along with some industry partners. Terry’s passion continued to grow as he was engaged in the struggle for an answer to the arc flash hazard dilemma. How do we identify it? How often are workers exposed? These were the kinds of questions that ran through Terry’s mind at the time. There was a clear gap in knowledge in the industry as electrical workers were potentially shocked every day, and non-electrical workers also faced the same hazards with no relevant training or information.

“Something that was really new back in 2005 and 2006 was arc flash clothing for workers who were exposed – this was all brand new. No one knew about this clothing – there was no training,” laments Terry about the first years of electrical safety. “So, I was at the forefront of trying to establish, not only for the gas industry, but for the industry in general, that we needed to identify these hazards and when workers were exposed, and we needed something to prevent exposure and in turn protect them by identifying personal protective equipment that the workers needed to use.”

Terry inquired about the safety standards in the industry and approached the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) to see if they had anything in development regarding arc flash and shock. It turned out the CSA had no mandate to create a standard for electrical safety, so in the fall of 2005, Terry was invited by the CSA Technical Committee to begin work on what would become known as the CSA Z462 Workplace electrical safety Standard.

While Terry was working at Encana for a safer work environment and collaborating with the CSA in 2006 on the development of the Workplace electrical safety Standard, it struck Terry that he had begun to accumulate enough knowledge as a subject matter expert.

“All along my career, I wanted my own company and I think a lot of people have this entrepreneurial spirit, so I said, ‘You know what? How do I do that?’ I didn’t know, so I wrote a business plan and I created a company name and a logo. That company was Electrical Safety Program Solutions Inc. (ESPS), a long-winded company name, but the company name I knew was the solution to the problem.”

Starting a business isn’t without risks and Terry knew that. He took out a second mortgage on his house to start up the company with blessings from his wife. In 2007, the company was officially in business making 2017 the tenth year it’s been in business.

Danatec Educational Services Ltd. was an industry partner to ESPS. Alina Martin, president of Danatec, took an interest in arc flash and shock in 2012 and naturally partnered with Terry’s company as a reseller of his online electrical safety courses. In late 2016, Alina approached Terry to see if he would be interested in working more closely with Danatec, formally asking Terry if he would consider merging. Terry recognized the potential in partnering with Danatec, and the official acquisition took place on August 1, 2017.

“It was a surprise,” recalls Terry. “All along I’ve had this great respect for Alina and what she has done with Danatec. If you’ve ever met Alina or dealt with her, you’d know that she is an amazing business woman, an amazing leader and has taken Danatec to a different level.”

Terry takes a deep breath, smiles with pride and states, “ESPS is now officially a part of Danatec, and with it formally being a part of Danatec it’s a significant step for arc flash and shock hazard management for Canada. I’m happy to be here. I’m excited to be in charge of the electrical division as part of Danatec and work with a bunch of great people at this company.”

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