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Electrical Safety – NFPA 70E Chapter 1 Overview

- May 30, 2017 by Leslie Stoll, CSP ARM (View all posts by Leslie)

In my last blog, I discussed the basics of NFPA 70E. In this blog, I’ll dig a little deeper by discussing Chapter 1– Safety Related Work Practices. OSHA has already started issuing citations based on NFPA 70E, so it’s time to start looking at your company’s compliance efforts. Keep in mind, this is only a brief overview of some important aspects of the standard, so it ‘ll be important to seek out more information as you see fit.

Definitions

NFPA 70E has defined essential verbiage for electrical safety in the first section of the standard. Their definition of a Qualified Electrical Worker is the only one that I will dive into here. A qualified electrical worker does not need to be a formally trained electrician (although it won’t hurt if they are). According to the NFPA, a qualified person is defined as, “one who has demonstrated skills and knowledge related to the construction and operation of electrical equipment and installation and has received safety training to identify and avoid the hazards involved.”

So, who is responsible for deeming someone qualified? According to the NFPA, the employer will through, “regular supervision or through inspections conducted on at least an annual basis that each employee is complying with the safety-related work practices required by [NFPA 70E]”. But this will be difficult to comply with unless a written electrical safety program is created.

General Requirements for Electrical Safety Related Work Practices

Employers should implement an electrical safety program that outlines electrical activities, hazards and controls. It should include a method to assess and control electrical risk before starting work and a process for briefing employees on exposure and controls before each job. Employers must also develop a means for training and evaluation of employees. Training must be specific to the exposures and potential injuries that employees face.

In other words, if a company policy prohibits any employee from entering an electrical control panel, then the training need not cover how to safely access the panels but rather that the panels are not allowed to be opened. Employees who are not working directly with electrical risk should be trained as unqualified persons on electrical safety related to the scope of their exposure.

Other topics covered in Chapter 1 include:

  • Emergency response to electrical incidents and injuries
  • Responsibilities of a host employer and a contract employer
  • Use, design, rating, inspection and repair of electrical equipment including testing instruments, grounding equipment, electrical cords, GFCI’s and more

There’s a lot of great information in Chapter 1. The entire standard is referenced in OSHA 1910 Subpart S and OSHA 1926 Subpart K so, it’s worth reviewing yourself. If you do not already have access to the NFPA 70E standard you can view a copy at NFPA.org.

For more information on electrical safety check mySafetynews.com for future blogs on the subject.  If you’d like to get started developing an electrical safety program today, check out the grant material resources from OSHA.

 

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