On the Safe Side…NFPA 70E the Standard for Workplace Electrical Safety

On the Safe Side…NFPA 70E the Standard for Workplace Electrical Safety

NFPA 70E 2004 Edition has several significant changes.  The major change is an emphasis on safe work practices.  It establishes thresholds for worker protective apparel based on exposure to arc hazard risk and is designed to protect workers that install, maintain or repair electrical systems.  In Table 1.30.7 (C) (9)(a) from NFPA 70E, classifies Hazard/Risk category from 0 thru 4, which determines required protective clothing (PPE) type and specifies V-Rated gloves and V-Rated tools for the tasks.

Electrical OutletA requirement of 70E is that switchborads, panel boards, MCC’s etc. shall be field marked to warn qualified persons of potential electric arc flash hazards.  This requirement will determine type of clothing needed to work on equipment.  Compliance with this aspect of the standard is expected by January 2009.

Once the Hazard/Risk Category is identified and assigned to a task.  Table 130.7 (C) (10) is a Protective Clothing and equipment matrix that lists the requirements for protective clothing and other protective equipment based on Hazard/Risk Category numbers 9 thru 4.

A summary of NFPA 70E’s PPE Characteristics is as follows: Table 130.7 (C) (11) Protective Clothing Characteristics.

Why should industries comply with 70E?  NFPA 70E is not a law and it has not been incorporated into the Code of Federal Regulations.  OSHA has cited it in cases where lack of compliance has resulted in a workplace accident.

How can an industry be cited?  OSHA might cite non-compliance with 29CFR 1910.335 (a) (1) (i) which requires the use of protective equipment when working where a potential electrical hazard exists; 29CFR 1910.132 (d)(1), which requires employer assessment of workplace hazards and the use of personal protective equipment; or the “general duty clause” sectopm 5 (a)(1) and states “…each employee shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment where are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to casue death or serious physical harm to his employees”.

Hazard Risk Clothing Description Required Minimum Arc – Rating of PPE (Cal/cm2)
0 Non-melting, flammable materials (i.e. untreated cotton, wool, rayon, or silk, or blends of these materials) with a fabric weight at least 4.5 oz/yd2 N/A
1 FR shirt and FR pants or FR coverall (1) 4
2 Cotton underwear-conventional short sleeve and brief/shorts, plus FR shirt and FR pants (1 or 2) 8
3 Cotton underwear plus FR shirt and FR pants plus FR coverall, or cotton underwear plus two FR coveralls (2 or 3) 25
4 Cotton underwear plus FR shirt and FR pants plus multilayer flash suit (3 or more) 40

On the Safe Side is provided by the NEWEA Safety Committee to help increase safety awareness in everyday activities.

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