NFPA 70E has since been revised in 2021, though updates pertaining to AR / FR clothing were minor.
NFPA 70E requirements for safe work practices protect personnel by reducing exposure to major electrical hazards. Originally developed at OSHA’s request, NFPA 70E helps companies and employees avoid workplace injuries and fatalities due to shock, electrocution, arc flash, and arc blast, and assists in complying with OSHA 1910 Subpart S and OSHA 1926 Subpart K.”
Recently, NFPA issued an updated version of the standard that includes several changes. As part of our effort to keep electrical workers up-to-date on the latest safety initiatives we have summarized those changes most likely to have an impact on your day-to-day performance of your job.
110.1 (H) Risk Assessment Procedure
New requirement that electrical safety programs shall (in this context meaning “must”) include a risk assessment procedure that must now address the potential for human error. In addition, it dictates that preventive and protective risk control methods be implemented in accordance with the following hierarchy:
- Engineering controls
- Administrative controls
110.1 (I) Job Safety Planning and Briefing
Job Briefing requirements have been expanded and clarified significantly. Each employee being exposed to electrical hazards must be briefed on a Job Safety Plan by a qualified person and the briefing must be documented. The job safety plan must include:
- A description of the job and individual tasks
- Identification of electrical hazards associated with each task
- A shock risk assessment for applicable tasks
- An arc flash risk assessment for applicable tasks
- Work procedures involved, special precautions, and energy source controls
Updated job safety planning and job briefings are now required in the event the scope of the job changes in a way that might affect the safety of employees.
110.1 (J) Incident Investigations
And the safety program must also include elements to investigate electrical incidents, should they occur.
110.2 (A) (5) Lockout/Tagout Training
Employers are now required to provide each employee with training in lockout/tagout procedures, and document that training at its successful completion. Re-training is required at least once every three years, when the procedures change, or when an audit reveals non-compliance.
120.2 Lockout/Tagout Principals and Procedures
Employers are explicitly responsible for providing the equipment and training necessary to enact lockout/tagout principals consistent with the requirements of Article 120. They are also responsible for auditing their employees’ compliance with lockout/tagout procedures.
130.5 (A) Arc Flash Risk Assessment
Arc flash risk assessments must be performed to identify arc flash hazards, estimate the likelihood of occurrence of injury or damage, and to determine if additional protective measures or PPE are required.
Table 130.5(G) Selection of Arc Rated Clothing and PPE
The standard now includes a table to provide guidance on what PPE is required depending upon the potential incident energy exposure.
130.5 (H) Equipment Labeling
Labeling of electrical equipment must now include the arc flash PPE category from Table 130.7 (C) (15) (a) or Table 130.7 (C) (15) (b), but not both. Current labeling that complies with pre-existing labeling requirements in effect at the time the labels were applied does not need to be revised unless changes to the electrical distribution system renders the current labeling obsolete. Data used to calculate labeling must be reviewed at least every 5 years. The OWNER of the electrical equipment is responsible for documenting, installing, and maintaining all labels.
Table 130.7 (C) (7) Rubber Insulating Equipment, Maximum Test Intervals
A clarifying note has been added to the effect that new insulating equipment is not permitted to be placed into service unless it has been electrically tested within the previous 12 months for blankets and sleeves and 6 months for gloves. Insulating equipment that has been issued for service but not yet used is not new and is required to be retested in accordance with the intervals specified above.
330.3 Hazardous Energy
This addition defines the energy level thresholds at which special precautions must be taken.
- For voltage and current
- AC systems – greater than or equal to 50 volts ac and 5mA
- DC systems – greater than or equal to 100 volts dc and 40 mA
- For stored energy
- Greater than or equal to 0.25 joules at 400 volts or greater
- 1 joule at greater than 100 volts up to 400 volts
Deletion of References to External Standards
Perhaps the biggest change to the 2018 edition of NFPA 70E is what has been removed from the document: all mandatory references to third party standards have been removed. In previous iterations, 70E referred to standards issued by ASTM, ANSI, and other agencies and organizations. However NFPA has concluded that this practice is incompatible with the organization’s style guide which prohibits references to third party standards in documents issued by NFPA. Standards such ASTM F-1959 (Arc Ratings) and ASTM F-1506 (requirements for garments, labeling etc) are now in informational notes, rather than mandatory references. As a result, new guidelines determine how a supplier should classify their products, allowing any of the following methods:
- Self-declaration with a Supplier’s Declaration of Conformity, or
- Self-declaration under a registered quality management system and product testing by an accredited laboratory and a Supplier’s Declaration of Conformity, or
- Certification by an accredited independent third-party certification organization
At first glance, this might seem to be a major issue. However, the practical impact of this change is probably less than it might seem. OSHA requirements and other safety standards and guidelines remain in effect whether they are referenced in the 70E standard or not.
We hope this summary of the most significant changes to NFPA 70E in the 2018 edition is helpful to your efforts to maintain a safe and compliant workplace. We remind you however, that there are more changes to the standard that are not discussed here. To ensure full compliance, we urge you to download the latest version of the standard at the NFPA website.