NFPA 70E HDBK
Handbook for Electrical Safety in the Workplace
|Publication Date:||1 January 2018|
The scope describes in general terms what this document covers and includes sufficient details to explain the range or limits of what is covered. It is important to understand that the NEC applies to electrical installations (premises wiring systems), and NFPA 70E applies to employee workplaces that are located on premises that have premises wiring systems. A premises is a location that may consist of any combination of buildings, other structures, and grounds. When locations become employee workplaces, 90.2 clarifies which premises are intended to be covered by the work policies, procedures, and process controls found in this document.
(A) Covered. This standard addresses electrical safety-related work practices, safety-related maintenance requirements, and other administrative controls for employee workplaces that are necessary for the practical safeguarding of employees relative to the hazards associated with electrical energy during activities such as the installation, removal, inspection, operation, maintenance, and demolition of electric conductors, electric equipment, signaling and communications conductors and equipment, and raceways. This standard also includes safe work practices for employees performing other work activities that can expose them to electrical hazards as well as safe work practices for the following:
(1) Installation of conductors and equipment that connect to the supply of electricity
(2) Installations used by the electric utility, such as office buildings, warehouses, garages, machine shops, and recreational buildings that are not an integral part of a generating plant, substation, or control center
Informational Note: This standard addresses safety of workers whose job responsibilities involve interaction with energized electrical equipment and systems with potential exposure to electrical hazards. Concepts in this standard are often adapted to other workers whose exposure to electrical hazards is unintentional or not recognized as part of their job responsibilities. The highest risk for injury from electrical hazards for other workers involve unintentional contact with overhead power lines and electric shock from machines, tools, and appliances.
Section 90.2(A) defines employee activities that require realistic safety-related work procedures. These activities include planned interaction with the electrical distribution system and connected equipment (such as installation, inspection, operation, maintenance, and demolition) and can also include unanticipated interaction (such as when employees are painting, tree trimming, or using lifts or ladders). This standard is also intended to cover employees when they are interacting with electrically powered machines, tools, and appliances.
Some complexes - such as college campuses and industrial, military, or multi-unit type facilities - frequently include utility-type generating facilities, utility-type substations, or utility-type electrical distribution systems. Often these installations are not electrically self-sufficient and are connected to utility power systems. The point of connection between the utility power system and the owner's electrical system is defined as the service point. The NEC, NFPA 70E, and NFPA 70B are applicable to conductors and equipment on the load side of the service point, which is where the facility is responsible for the installation, operation, and maintenance during its full life cycle, from initial installation through operation and maintenance, up to and including its decommissioning and legal disposal.
The purpose of this standard is to provide a practical safe working area for employees relative to the hazards arising from the use of electricity.
The purpose of NFPA 70E is to provide a practical, safe working area for employees, which is safe from unacceptable risk associated with the use of electricity in the workplace. By the use of an appropriate mix of risk controls from the hierarchy of risk control methods, as required by 110.1(H) and explained in Informative Annex F, the risks associated with the use of electricity can be reduced to an acceptable level.
Work that is performed on exposed energized electrical conductors or circuit parts is dangerous. NFPA 70E, like many safety standards, defines requirements that are based on the risk controls identified in the hierarchy of risk control methods, starting with the most effective risk control and ending with what is considered the least effective risk control. This standard utilizes or identifies all of the risk controls identified in this hierarchy, but the primary protective strategy when an electrical hazard is present must be to establish an electrically safe work condition. After this strategy is executed, all electrical energy has been removed from all conductors and circuit parts to which the employee could be exposed. Only under limited circumstances is energized electrical work allowed to be performed without creating an electrically safe work condition.
NFPA 70E establishes safety processes that use policies, procedures, and program controls to reduce the risk associated with the use of electricity to an acceptable level. The core objective here is practical, accomplishable electrical safety that results in the employee going home safe at the end of the day. The risk controls discussed in this standard are not impractical or unrealistic; they are sound, viable, workable applications of safety procedures and policies to be implemented by the employer and employee.
When electrical equipment that has been properly installed and maintained is used in accordance with its listings and the manufacturer's instructions, the risk of injury from the use of electricity should be minimal, especially under normal operating conditions. Safety can only be what is reasonably actionable, and all risk associated with the use of electricity in the workplace may not be eliminated. The risk, however, must be reduced to an acceptable level. By reducing to an acceptable level the risks associated with the use of electricity, injuries - including fatalities - from the use of electricity in the workplace should be able to be managed to the extent that they are virtually eliminated.
Prudent decision-making is necessary in order for employees to keep clear of situations where the risk of injury is unacceptable. Where the risk of injury is unacceptable, proper training and supervision will educate employees on how to avoid potentially dangerous situations.
As is the very nature of a standard, each requirement contained within may not be the best practice that can be employed for a specific condition but is the minimum threshold of what must be done. A standard cannot contemplate all conditions that could exist for every piece of equipment, it cannot foresee every hazard present at every installation, and it cannot anticipate the actions of every employee at every company.
Users should not limit themselves to meeting the minimum requirements - they should consider appropriate additional precautions beyond those provided in a standard to address their specific situation.