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Written by Steve Hudgik
NFPA 70E is published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). It provides standards defining work practices for protecting workers from an electrical hazards, including arc flash hazards, during the installation, inspection, operation, maintenance and demolition of electric conductors and equipment.
NFPA 70E also specifies safe work practices for employees who may not be directly working on electrical equipment, but who are performing work that might expose them to electrical hazards.
The NFPA 70E standard covers all work activities related to electrical energy, including some types of electrical related work that is not anticipated to directly exposure workers to electrical energy, with the following exceptions:
A) Electrical systems on ships or watercraft, railroad rolling stock (including signaling), aircraft and automotive vehicles. NFPA 70E does apply to floating buildings and motor homes.
B) Underground mines and self-propelled mobile surface mining machinery.
C) Installations of communications equipment under the exclusive control of communications utilities, and which is located outdoors or in interior locations used exclusively for such installations.
D) Certain electrical installations that are under the exclusive control of an electric utility.
We recommend having a printed copy of NFPA 70E available as a reference. It may be purchased on the NFPA web site at: www.nfpa.org.
NFPA makes a copy of NFPA 70E available which can be read online at no charge. You will need to register with NFPA before you can get access to the online version. Go to: www.nfpa.org/aboutthecodes/AboutTheCodes
No, they are not.
The National Electrical Code (NEC), also known as NFPA 70, sets the standards for the design and safe installation of electrical wiring and equipment. It ensures the electrical system is safe.
NFPA 70E provides the standards for safe electrical work practices.
From a practical standpoint, yes. You must be in compliance with NFPA 70E or you risk an OSHA citation.
However, OSHA does not reference NFPA 70E nor specifically require compliance with NFPA 70E. So the answer is also "no."
There are several ways OSHA may cite you for non-compliance with NFPA 70E, even though OSHA standards do not require compliance. For example, the OSHA General Duty Clause states that as an employer you must:
"...furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees."
If you are not in compliance with NFPA 70E, then OSHA can say you are not providing a workplace that is free from recognized hazards and issue a citation under the General Duty Clause.
However, there are specific OSHA standards that might be cited. The two most likely are:
29 CFR 1910.335(a)(1)(i) – "Employees working in areas where there are potential electrical hazards shall be provided with, and shall use, electrical protective equipment that is appropriate for the specific parts of the body to be protected and for the work to be performed."
29 CFR 1910.132(d)(1) - "The employer shall assess the workplace to determine if hazards are present, or are likely to be present, which necessitate the use of personal protective equipment (PPE)."
1910.132(d) goes on to state that the employer shall: "Select, and have each affected employee use, the types of PPE that will protect the affected employee from the hazards identified in the hazard assessment..."
Both of these OSHA standards require PPE, but they do not provide specific information about how to conduct an assessment nor specifically what PPE is required for various hazard levels. NFPA 70E provides this information, and is the accepted standard. Thus if you are not in compliance with NFPA 70E, OSHA may cite you for being in violation of one or both of these OSHA standards.
29 CFR 1910.333(a) may also be cited by OSHA. It states:
"Safety-related work practices shall be employed to prevent electric shock or other injuries resulting from either direct or indirect electrical contacts, when work is performed near or on equipment or circuits which are or may be energized. The specific safety-related work practices shall be consistent with the nature and extent of the associated electrical hazards."
NFPA 70E states that a qualified person is someone who has skills and knowledge related to the construction and operation of electrical equipment and installations, and has received safety training to recognize and avoid the hazards involved.
A journeyman electrician may or may not be a qualified person. A journeyman is proficient at doing the work, but may not have the training and skills required to recognize and avoid electrical hazards.
This highlights the major difference between a qualified and unqualified person. A qualified person must not only have the necessary work skills, they must be trained and have the ability to recognize and respond appropriately to any hazards.
If the assistant is outside the arc flash boundary no arc flash protection is required by NFPA 70E. If the assistant is outside of the restricted approach boundary, then shock protection PPE is not required by NFPA 70E. However, it is still a good work practice for the assistant to be using appropriate PPE. For example, he may need to hand a tool to the worker who is within the arc flash boundary and this could make a circuit resulting in a shock hazard. Or he may be holding a meter for the worker inside who then places the meter leads on a power source that exceeds the rating of the meter.
8. What is the best way to avoid an electric arc flash? (What is the most important practice?)
The best way is to only work on un-energized equipment and be sure it is locked out. Don't assume a circuit is de-energized. Lock it out using your LOTO lock.
This is also required by OSHA's 29 CFR 1910.333(a)(1) which states:
"Live parts to which an employee may be exposed shall be de-energized before the employee works on or near them, unless the employer can demonstrate that de-energizing introduces additional or increased hazards or is infeasible due to equipment design or operational limitations. Live parts that operate at less than 50 volts to ground need not be de-energized if there will be no increased exposure to electrical burns or to explosion due to electric arcs."
Unless the equipment must remain energized – lock it out!
No. There may be electrical energy from other sources. Always test to be sure the equipment is de-energized and be aware of the signs that electrical energy is present.
Also, you need to be aware of other types of hazards, such as energy stored in mechanical hazards.
No. NFPA 70E requires that the equipment owner do an arc flash analysis and that the equipment owner create and apply appropriate labels. You do not know the circumstances under which the equipment was tested. The source of electrical power affects the hazard level and equipment must be assessed in the situation in which it will be used.
The NFPA 70E 2012 code requires that at least one of the following must be included on the label:
Where do arc flash labels come from? Since arch flash labels must provide information that is specific to the electrical equipment, they are printed as custom labels. Having a DuraLabel custom label printer is a common way to make the needed arc flash labels. With a DuraLabel label printer you have a printer that can make a wide variety of labels in addition to NFPA 70E required arc flash labels. You have a more productive machine, you address multiple labeling needs throughout your facility, and you get a very fast ROI.
Call 1-888-326-9244 today and ask about special offers on DuraLabel NFPA 70E labeling kits.