NFPA 70e 2021 Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace is one of the foremost consensus standards for electrical safety and covers electrical worker protection from the electrical hazards of shock, arc flash and arc blast.
There is a relationship between NFPA 70e and the National Electrical Code (NEC):
• The National Electrical Code (NEC) governs the design and installation of electrical systems but not actually how to perform work.
• The NFPA 70E 2021 governs safe work practices for electrical construction and maintenance workers but not how to design or install electrical systems.
• The two standards have identical scopes and share many of the same definitions. They also both cover indoor wiring in buildings. Neither of the standards govern utility construction.
While NFPA 70E technically applies to all workplaces, it is mostly enforced on construction sites and industrial, commercial and institutional power systems.
• The NEC is adopted for regulatory purposes by states and is enforced by electrical inspectors.
• NFPA 70E 2021 is not adopted for regulatory use. Instead, companies, who require electrical contractors to follow NFPA 70E safety practices while working on their property, enforce it.
NFPA 70E 2021
NFPA 70E explains how electrical workers can recognize and protect themselves from these electrical hazards:
• Electric shock and electrocution (directly affecting the body)
• Arc-flash (explosive energy in the form of a fireball)
• Arc-blast (shrapnel and gas explosion at high energy levels)
The NFPA 70E standard doesn’t regulate other construction hazards such as fall protection, safe ladder and scaffold use, hazardous substances and breathing respirators. These construction safety regulations are covered by OSHA.
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The following is a detailed breakdown of how the NFPA 70e is organized:
Chapter 1 - Safety–Related Work Practices - is the central part of the NFPA 70e regulations. It covers electrical safety training requirements for Qualified and Unqualified electrical personnel and determines who is permitted to work on or near exposed energized parts. It also requires an Electrical Safety Program and specifies what that electrical safety program should include. Requirements for Lockout/Tagout are also covered, as well as the procedures for the three levels of Lockout/Tagout control: individual, simple, and complex.
Chapter One is also the home of the “hot topics”: Electrical Hazard Analysis for Shock and Flash, Energized Electrical Work Permits, Approach Boundaries for Shock, Arc-Flash Boundaries, and selection of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for electrical safety.
Chapter 2 - Safety-Related Maintenance Requirements - is a chapter that basically requires that electrical components, wiring, and equipment be maintained in a safe condition. Most electricians will find that this chapter only documents what they already know as good electrical maintenance practice.
Chapter 3 - Safety Requirements for Special Equipment - covers batteries, lasers and power electronic equipment. This chapter addresses a few very specific types of electrical equipment that may have hazards different than the common shock and flash hazards. Many facilities now use lasers in laboratories and in workshops, and batteries are common for many uses including in UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) systems. Included in chapter 3 is a section on Safety-Related Work Practices for Power Electronic Equipment which specifically includes such things as electric arc welding equipment, and process equipment that have rectifiers and inverters such as: motor drives, UPS systems, and lighting controllers.
Chapter 4 - Installation Safety Requirements; is a very truncated version of the NEC®. This chapter is based on applicable sections of the NEC®, but is not intended to be used in lieu of the NEC®.
Annexes A through M include very useful information such as defining approach boundaries, how to calculate flash protection boundaries, a sample LOTO procedure, a simplified method for selecting flame-resistant clothing, and a sample Energized Electrical Work Permit.
Chapter 1 Safety-Related Work Practices
Chapter 2 Safety-Related Maintenance Requirements
Chapter 3 Safety Requirements for Special Equipment
Annex A Referenced Publications
If you are a qualified electrical worker, you can enroll in our certified NFPA 70e Arc Flash Training course to protect yourself on the job.