Did you hear the news? NFPA 70B, Standard for Electrical Equipment Maintenance, was recently upgraded from a guide – that is a recommended practice indicating what you should do – to a standard, making it a requirement indicating what you shall do. In our last post we took a look at the relationship between this new standard and its complements: NPFA 70, the National Electric Code, and NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace. But what are the implications of NFPA 70B’s new status as a standard? Tune in to find out from Scott Margolin, Vice President of Technical:
As Scott shares, there are both near-term and mid-term implications to consider.
The good news: in the long run, because equipment will be more regularly and properly maintained, this change will ultimately make for a safer workplace – with fewer injuries.
However, in the near term, there are concerns for worker safety while the transition is being made. It will take several years to get caught up on the preventive maintenance the standard specifies. During this time, we’ll almost certainly have more people in more gear more often – and likely more arcs as a result. In turn, those arcs may lead to more injuries – and unfortunately more significant injuries and potential fatalities – because it’s equally likely that some of the workers performing this “catch up” maintenance may not have the appropriate training, qualifications, or PPE for the work.
Think this doesn’t apply to you because you don’t work energized? Think again. According to OSHA and NFPA 70E, unless you’re pulling wire in new construction that’s neither connected to the grid nor to temporary power, you’re working energized if you have not fully met logout/tagout (LOTO) or Electrically Safe Work Condition (ESWC) criteria. All of the work necessary to establish LOTO or ESWC is energized, as is all the work necessary to turn it back on afterwards. Don’t miss episode 5 of Arc Week Season 3 for a full breakdown on this from industry insiders representing OSHA, the ETA, IBEW, and NFPA 70E.
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