What is NFPA 70 and how does it relate to NEC and NESC?

In previous posts, we explained the National Electric Code (NEC) and the National Electric Safety Code (NESC). Today, we’re focusing on NFPA 70E and how it relates to those codes. There’s even an easy-to-read comparison chart so you can see the differences at a glance.

We’ll start with a high-level overview of NFPA 70E (for a deeper dive, check out this post). NFPA 70E addresses electrical safety requirements necessary to safeguard employees during activities such as the installation, operation, maintenance, and demolition of electric conductors, electric equipment, signaling and communications conductors and equipment, and raceways.

While the NEC is useful for those responsible for maintenance and engineering of electrical equipment, NFPA 70E is a voluntary standard purposely geared toward workers and employers to understand and implement safety precautions. While OSHA uses the General Duty Clause as the basis for citations, OSHA commonly cites information from NFPA 70E for support to enforce compliance regarding electrical safety.

So, how do all these standards – NEC, NESC, and NFPA 70E – interact with each other? Scott explains below:


Altogether, NEC, NESC, and NFPA 70E form a three-legged stool for safe electrical installation, maintenance, and repair. Check out the comparison chart below for additional guidance:

Electrical Safety Standard Published by Revision Cycle Voltage Application Major Differentiation
National Electric Code (NEC) National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 3 years Generally, under 1,000 volts Inside wiring. Covers how to design and install electrical systems
National Electrical Safety Code (NESC) Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 5 years Generally, over 1,000 volts Outside wiring. Power, Transmission and Distribution, and Generation. Sets the ground rules for practical safeguarding of workers during the installation, operation, or maintenance of electric supply and communication lines and associated equipment.
NFPA 70E National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 3 years Generally, under 1,000 volts Inside wiring. Describes safe work practices related to proper design and installation.

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