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NFPE70E Electrical switchgear by CorDEXWhat Is the NFPA 70E? – The Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace

Posted on: 3rd, February 2015

Overview

The 2018 update includes some of the following changes:

  • Continued emphasis on training
  • Distinctions between employer and employee responsibilities
  • A greater focus on hazard elimination
  • Required job safety plan documentation with risk assessments

Training Requirements

Retraining should still occur every 3 years, and the 2018 update indicates that employees must also be retrained if their job duties change, or when procedures are not being followed (as observed by annual inspections or supervision).

Training should include:

  • Specific hazards associated with electrical energy
  • Special precautionary techniques and safety related work practices
  • PPE, insulating and shielding materials, insulated tools and test equipment
  • Emergency response and AED training
  • Skills and techniques to distinguish energized parts determine nominal voltages
  • Approach distances
  • Decision making process and ability to perform job tasks

Training sessions must be documented and verified at least annually, and participants must be able to demonstrate knowledge. To help keep your workplace safe and compliant, check out the CSEM training quote tool for onsite Arc Flash Training.

Employer vs. Employee Responsibilities

Previously, NFPA 70E just addressed the employer when it came to safety-related work practices. Now this section is subdivided as follows:

Employer:

Establish, document and provide training.

Employee:

Must comply with safety related work practices and procedures provided by the employer.

Equipment Labeling

Old Label Versions. The recent update allows labels applied prior to the effective date of this edition of the standard to be acceptable if they complied with the requirements for equipment labeling in the standard in effect at the time the labels were applied (unless changes in electrical distribution system render the label inaccurate). See the Seven Elements of an Arc Flash Label.

Document and Review. Document the method of calculating and the data to support the information for the label and review for accuracy at intervals not to exceed 5 years. Where the review of the data identifies a change that renders the label inaccurate, the label shall be updated.

The owner of the electrical equipment shall be responsible for the documentation, installation and maintenance of the marked label.

Establishing an Electrically Safe Work Condition

Exception for “Simple Procedures”: When it comes to equipment that is cord- or plug-connect – for which exposure to the hazards of unexpected energization is controlled by the unplugging of the equipment from the energy source, and the employee performing maintenance is under exclusive control of the plug – lockout tagout is not required.

The 2018 update also added two additional steps to the process for establishing and verifying electrically safe work conditions:

  • Release stored electrical energy
  • Release or block stored mechanical energy

Learn more about Arc Flash protection

Work Involving Electrical Hazards

Shock Risk Assessment was modified to require documentation and more information regarding additional protective measures.

Arc Flash Risk Assessment was modified to identify hazards, estimate the likelihood of occurrence and if additional protective measures are required.

Two methods for conducting an assessment:

  • Incident Energy Analysis Method
  • Arc Flash PPE Category Method

Complying with NFPA 70E.

Companies are now placing more emphasis on maximising the life of their assets by adopting new inspection methods like infrared surveys into their maintenance plans, ultimately this may increase the number of maintenance engineers interacting with electrical energy.

The risk of an arc flash hazard is only too real across many industries, though there are many ways to reduce the potential occurrence of an arc-flash. Infrared Windows (IR Windows) are one solution available to an electrical engineer to reduce their exposure to live electrical energy when carrying out thermal inspections on energised equipment as they negate the need to remove the panel cover.

This means infrared inspections carried out through installed IR Windows can help towards a facility complying with NFPA 70E requirements.

Conclusion.

Electrical maintenance work can be very dangerous as almost all industries carry out some level of electrical maintenance and ultimately exposing employees to electrical energy whilst performing their duties on a day to day basis. NFPA 70E is vital in the continuing guidance to all industries on the associated hazards when working with electrical energy. An understanding of the standards outlined can potentially improving the reliability and productivity of a facility, whilst more importantly improving the safety of workers by increasing their awareness of these standards.

Arc Flash – The Potential Dangers of Electrical Maintenance and Thermal Surveys.

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