NFPA 70E: Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace
Introductory text to buying the latest edition of NFPA 70E: “OSHA bases its electrical safety mandates on NFPA 70E®: Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®. Prevent accidents and comply!” Not exactly inviting, but let’s explore NFPA 70E some more.
NFPA 70E standards work with OSHA regulations to govern electrical safety in the workplace. Getting your company compliant can be
difficult, confusing, and sometimes frustrating. We’ve put together this page to help familiarize you
with NFPA 70E and some quick checklists that might help.
The new edition of the NFPA 70E is coming in 2008 and must be adopted by 2009. It is never to early to start
planning and preparing. We are going to do our best to keep you up-to-date and informed on these items
that might affect you, your workplace, and your business. As we learn more about NFPA 70E you will find that
The importance of NFPA 70E and workplace safety
It is unclear exactly how many serious electric shock and burn injuries happen in electrical incidents and
arc-flash accidents per year, but according to the Department of Labor, the number is just under 10,000 a year.
Not all electrical accidents result in death, but they often cause scarring, tissue death, loss of limbs,
extreme burns, blindness, and hearing loss.
You don’t want this kind of electrical incident to happen to you or to your coworkers or employees.
Want to be incident free?
While there are a variety of causes for electrical injury, and extended studies going into arc-flash incidents,
the fact is that the single largest hazard remains electric shock. A worker touches an energized part and they get shocked.
So if you want to avoid electrical injuries, simply make sure that all equipment is put into an electrically
safe state before working on or around it. And while that is easier said than done sometimes, it is the one way
to eliminate the highest danger associated with electrical injury.
Why do I care about NFPA 70E
You care because of OSHA. OHSA regulates workplace safety, and their expectations are high. Unfortunately
while OSHA can tell you what to do, they don’t tell you how to do it. That is where the NFPA 70E comes in.
This document is like your how-to guide to compliance. It’s not always perfect but it will get you where you
need to be in terms of most compliance.
- OSHA 29 CFR 1910.269(a)(2)(iii) states: “The employer shall determine, through regular supervision and through inspections conducted on at least an annual basis, that each employee is complying with the safety-related work practices required by this section;” and, “Note: OSHA would consider that tasks that are performed less often than once per year to necessitate retraining before the performance of the work practices involved.”
- OSHA 29 CFR 1910.332 states: “The training requirements contained in this section apply to employees who face a risk of electric shock that is not reduced to a safe level by the electrical installation requirements of 1910.303 through 1910.308.”
- OSHA 29 CFR 1910.269(a)(2) states: “Employees shall be trained in and familiar with the safety-related work practices, safety procedures and other safety requirements in this section that pertain to their respective job assignments. Employees shall also be trained in and familiar with any other safety procedures (such as pole top and manhole rescue) that are not specifically addressed by this section, but that are related to their work and are necessary for their safety.”
But what should those inspections consist of? What are the specifics of the training you are required to have/offer? It can be pretty vague.
History of NFPA 70E
NFPA 70E standard was the first nationally recognized standard for electrical safety in the United States, and was the reference document used for the Electrical Safety-Related Work Practices (ESRWP) regulation (OSHA 29 CFR 1910.331 through .335).
The first edition was released in 1976 at the request of OSHA to help provide consensus on electrical safety standards.
As of 2007 it has been revised seven times with new editions expected in 2008 and 2009.
NFPA 70E covers in detail safety-related work practices, critical safety-related items including training
requirements for qualified and unqualified personnel. But even the definition by OSHA of what a qualified person
can be vague, and the NFPA 70E steps in to help simplify and clarify.
The NFPA 70E also provides tables and charts including choosing appropriate PPE by task and associated HRC (hazard/risk category).
So while navigating OSHA regulation can seem daunting, the NFPA 70E can help make things clear, and keep your
workers and your business protected.
How to be in compliance
Protect your workers from electrical injury and make sure all workers are trained properly in the use of all
equipment and potential hazards. That is the bulk of it. If you actually care about workplace safety then
you are 90% of they way. Believe it or not, OSHA takes into consideration whether or not you actually care
and whether or not you are actually trying.
Apart from proper training on equipment and hazards, a major component of compliance especially in the 2008
edition is the importance of all workers having appropriate PPE. Below we’ve compiled a short list of
what you can do to help be in compliance.
Steps to take
Easy and immediate actions
- Never work on hot or live equipment. Ever.
- Begin immediate awareness and policies for working on de-energized equipment, always.
- Wear all-cotton, fire resistant clothing.
- Go out and look at how your company operates and what your workers are actually doing
- Use interim hazard warning labels on electrical equipment.
- Begin documenting everything, immediately. If it isn’t written down and dated, you didn’t do it!
- Begin studying up on NFPA Standard 70E and IEEE 1584-2002, Guide for Performing Arc Flash Hazard Calculations. In this case, not knowing CAN KILL YOU or your workers.
Long term goals
- Work on improving and enhancing safe work practices, procedures, and training.
- Use the knowledge gained from field inspections and NFPA 70E recommendations.
- Review existing LOTO procedures to ensure they include all control panels.
- Review previous employee LOTO training, keep logs, and assess whether any personnel require retraining.
- Make sure to train all electrical workers and any related personnel in Arc-flash hazard awareness.
- Perform audits on tools, equipment, and employee training
- Conduct tool audits. Make sure all employees have safe tools for the job, and determine if new tools need to be purchased.
- Conduct arc-flash hazard analysis to determine flash protection boundary on switchboards, panel boards, industrial control panels, motor control centers, and other related equipment.
- Assess PPE requirments based on the boundary results from arc-flash hazard analysis.
- Require appropriate clothing and apparel for electrical workers.
- Provide appropriate PPE. Understand that the PPE may have to be replaced when better information is available.
Get the current edition of NFPA 70E
You can get the current edition of NFPA 70E: Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace at
Current Edition: 2004
Next Revision Cycle: Annual 2008
(A) Covered. This standard addresses those electrical safety requirements for employee workplaces that are necessary for the practical safeguarding of employees in their pursuit of gainful employment. This standard covers the installation of electric conductors, electric equipment, signaling and communications conductors and equipment, and raceways for the following:
(1) Public and private premises, including buildings, structures, mobile homes, recreational vehicles, and floating buildings
(2) Yards, lots, parking lots, carnivals, and industrial substations FPN: For additional information concerning such installations in an industrial or multibuilding complex, see ANSI C2-2002, National Electrical Safety Code.
(3) Installations of conductors and equipment that connect to the supply of electricity
(4) Installations used by the electric utility, such as office buildings, warehouses, garages, machine shops, and recreational buildings, that are not an integral part of a generating plant, substation, or control center.
Material covered in this document was in part drawn from several sources including:
The Electricity Forum-NFPA 70 compliance checklist ,
occupationalhazards.com: NFPA 70E: What Does it Mean to You? ,
and from the NFPA.org
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