What Is NFPA 70e

By R.W. Hurst, The Electricity Forum

Electrical Safety Procedures

WHAT IS NFPA 70E?

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 70E is an American standard that provides a standard for best electrical safety work practices to help protect industrial electricians from electric arc flash and arc blast explosions, which often result in potential injury and death. As a result, OSHA has referenced the NFPA 70e. In fact, many organizations have now designed an NFPA 70E Compliance Guide to help protect their electrical personnel from the hazards associated with arc flash.

OSHA acting by adopting the NFPA 70e regulations for safe electrical work practices in 1990, and has proposed a revised standard that meets the most recent edition of NFPA 70E. 

NFPA 70e governs employees who work on or near exposed energized electrical conductors or circuit parts. This includes electrical maintenance personnel, operators, troubleshooters, electricians, linemen, engineers, supervisors, site safety personnel or anyone exposed to energized equipment of 50 volts or more.

The goal of the standard is to keep electrical workers free from the hazards of shock, electrocution, arc flash and arc blast. In support of this goal, NFPA 70E – 2004 version, and the NEC - 2002 require or recommend facilities provide:

OSHA adopted regulations on safe electrical work practices in 1990 based on NFPA 70E, and is proposing a revised standard that conforms to the most recent editions of the standard. Given that the NEC (National Electrical Code) and OSHA have both started referring to it in their documents, citations are now being written based on the electrical safety standard.

NFPA 70e applies to employees who work on or near exposed energized electrical conductors or circuit parts. This includes electrical maintenance personnel, operators, troubleshooters, electricians, linemen, engineers, supervisors, site safety personnel or anyone exposed to energized equipment of 50 volts or more.

The goal of NFPA 70e is to keep electrical workers free from the hazards of shock, electrocution, arc flash and arc blast. In support of this goal, NFPA 70E – 2004 version, and the NEC - 2002 require or recommend facilities provide:

Changes and updates in the 2004 edition help reduce risks and accidents:

  • New requirement for a signed authorization for energized electrical work
  • New language concerning multi-employer relationships requires all contractors on a project to be aware of hazards, PPE, safe work practices, and emergency evacuation procedures.
  • Installation requirements correlate with the 2002 National Electrical Code.
  • New and revised definitions clarify electrical safety issues such as arc rating, incident energy, and restricted approach boundary.
  • Updated PPE requirements reflect the latest technology.
  • Organized like the NEC, this edition's format and organization save time and help eliminate errors!
  • The discussion of Safety Related Work Practices has been moved to Chapter 1, to emphasize the topic's importance.
  • Chapter 1 has been totally reorganized, with all related provisions grouped together in logical progression.
  • Two cross-references let you easily compare provisions in the 2004 and 2000 editions.
  • New Annexes for a Sample Energized Work Permit, General Categories of Electrical Hazards, and a Sample Job Briefing Form, plus an updated Sample Arc Flash Calculations Annex, help you work smarter.

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