Who enforces NFPA 70E?
Overall enforcement of NFPA 70E is the employer of the electrical worker. It is the employer's responsibility to establish, document, implement the safety-related work practices and procedures required by NFPA 70E. The employer is also resposible for providing employees with training in safety related work practices and procedures.
The requirement to use NFPA 70E is often directed by an employer through their electrical safety program. Most large companies have an audited arc flash/electrical safety program but many smaller companies do not have one and this is a potential liability issue.
Does OSHA enforce NFPA 70E?
The short answer is no, because NFPA 70E is not Incorporated by Reference in 29 CFR 1910.6. However, OSHA has several comparable standard requirements that are enforceable:
29 CFR 1910.132 (d)(1): Requires employers perform a personal protective equipment (PPE) hazard assessment to determine necessary PPE.
29 CFR 1910.269 (l)(8)(i): Requires estimate of incident energy be determined.
29 CFR 1910.332 (b) Content of training. (1): Practices addressed in this standard. Employees shall be trained in and familiar with the safety-related work practices required by 1910.331 through 1910.335 that pertain to their respective job assignments.
29 CFR 1910.333 (b)(2)(iv)(B): A qualified person shall use test equipment to test the circuit elements and electrical parts of equipment to which employees will be exposed and shall verify that the circuit elements and equipment parts are deenergized…”
29 CFR 1910.335 (a)(1)(i): Employees working in areas where there are potential electrical hazards shall use electrical protective equipment appropriate for the specific parts of the body for the work being performed.
29 CFR 1910.335 (a)(1)(iv): Requires employees wear nonconductive head protection whenever exposed to electric shock or burns due to contact with exposed energized parts.
29 CFR 1910.335 (a)(1)(v): Employees shall wear protective equipment for the eyes or face wherever there is danger of injury to the eyes or face from electric arcs or flashes or from flying objects resulting from an electrical explosion.
29 CFR 1910.335 (a)(2): Employees shall use insulated tools or handling equipment when working near exposed energized conductors or circuit parts.
29 CFR 1926.28 (a): Employer shall require employees wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) during construction work.
Although OSHA may not specifically enforce NFPA 70E, they can and have cited electrical safe work practice hazards with existing OSHA standards. The best practice is to protect your employees by performing an electric arc flash study; train qualified employees in electrical safe work practices including arc flash hazards; and providing arc rated clothing as well as voltage-rated gloves and tools.