In October 2014, NFPA released the 2015 edition of NFPA 70E, a voluntary standard developed to reduce exposure to major electrical hazards in the workplace. This standard includes guidance on risk assessments, selecting appropriate PPE, training, and practices that support safe work conditions, with the goal of avoiding workplace injuries and fatalities from shock, electrocution, arc flash, and arc blasts.
To make it as easy as possible to establish a safe working environment, NFPA 70E is designed to be straightforward and user-friendly. However, the 2015 edition introduces four key changes that represent shifts from the 2012 edition and require adjustment for some employers and workers.
With more than 30 years of experience in the flame resistant (FR) clothing industry, Tyndale’s knowledge of industry standards keeps your workers safe and you informed of changes that impact your workforce. We are here to help companies with questions like this one:
The new edition of NFPA 70E requires shirts to be tucked in. Does this requirement include sweatshirts?
Tyndale Weighs in:
In the 2015 edition, NFPA 70E requires that “Clothing shall cover potentially exposed areas as completely as possible. Shirt and coverall sleeves shall be fastened at the wrists, shirts shall be tucked into pants, and shirts, coveralls, and jackets shall be closed at the neck.” (Section 130.7, part 9(d); page 31)
In Tyndale’s experience, sweatshirts are typically worn as outerlayers—that is, over FR baselayer button down shirts that provide the required arc rated protection. As such, these would more appropriately be considered outerwear, be additional protection, and would not apply to the 70E requirement for shirts to be tucked in—so long as the FR inner layer is properly tucked in and meets the arc rated PPE requirements as a stand along garment.
However, if the sweatshirt is being worn as the only layer of protection—in place of a shirt, with no underlayer—then the sweatshirt should be tucked in to ensure continuous coverage of the skin beneath.
In both cases, to provide the most complete coverage, sweatshirt sleeves should stay down at the wrists and sweatshirts with zippers should be fully closed to ensure complete coverage—particularly if the sweatshirt is being used as part of a layering system to achieve a minimum protective threshold mandated by your company’s safety policy.
When working in energized areas, always adhere to your company’s safety policy and wear the proper PPE based on the risk assessment. To maximize your protection, be sure to remember NFPA 70E’s recommendation for clothing to cover potentially exposed areas as completely as possible.