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NFPA 70e 2018 Electrical Safety in the Workplace

Is your company ready for a major shift away from how you currently do your electrical work? You need to be.

There are changes, large and small, in the newly revised Arc Flash Standard that will have most facilities and contractors scrambling to bring their workers into compliance. While there has been a strong push in the past two editions of 70e on placing equipment into a de-energized condition, 2018 brings it to the forefront as well as focusing on the worker themselves and their role.

While the limited space here does not allow me to go into the level of detail required, the following will provide an overview.

First order of business will be establishing or updating your company’s Electrical Safety Program. Using NFPA 70e 2018 Article 110.1 (A), General states that the employer SHALL implement and document an overall electrical safety program that directs activity appropriate to the risk associated with the electrical hazards. The electrical safety program must be implemented as part of the employer’s overall occupational health and safety management system.

So what are some of the steps needed to accomplish our task of keeping safe our workers that are exposed to electrical hazards?

Step One. Develop an Electrical Safety Program (110.1(E)). This standard lays out the principles upon which the program is based. Using NFPA 70e Annex E as your guide, develop your electrical safety program to cover electrical and other hazards your workers may be exposed to. Subjects such as inspecting, evaluating electrical equipment, planning and de-energizing are covered. Also included in this step is developing programs and procedures, including training of how and when the employees will apply them. Procedures are used to identify the electrical hazards and to develop JOB SAFETY PLANS to eliminate those hazards or control the associated risk of those hazards that cannot be eliminated.

Step Two. The employer SHALL train their employees that are exposed to electrical hazards to understand the specific hazards associated with electrical energy. Training is to include the safety-related work practices and procedure requirements, as necessary, to provide protection form the electrical hazard associated with the respective task or assignment. The person SHALL be a “Qualified Person”.

Step Three. Establish an Electrically Safe Work Condition (120.1. (A)also look to Annex G) In brief the employer SHALL establish, document, and implement a lock-out/tag-out (LOTO) program. The employer must supply the necessary equipment, training and auditing of the LOTO program.

Step Four. Working While Exposed to Electrical Hazards (130.3) Safety related work practices SHALL be used to safeguard employees from injury. This includes a Shock Assessment (130.4) to determine Shock Protection Boundaries (Table 130.4(D)(a) & or (b), both Limited and Restricted. Thereafter an Arc Flash Assessment (Table 130.5(C)(a)) will guide you to the Arc-Flash PPE categories as well as the Arc-Flash Boundary.

Step Five. Selecting the proper PPE. For AC current, the PPE Table 130.7(C)(15)(c) can be used to determine what level of Arc Flash PPE is require (levels 1-4). There will be other tables to determine auxiliary items such as voltage rated tools, gloves and etc.

Again this is a glimpse of what the new standard requires. For a more in-depth understanding, I encourage you to buy a copy of NFPA70e 2018 and read it for yourself…its only 98 pages! Or give us a call at Bailey Safety to schedule training and/or assistance with writing and auditing your program.

John Henle
Bailey Safety
OSHA 1926 Outreach Trainer