Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace
|Publication Date:||1 January 2015|
Foreword to NFPA 70E
The Standards Council of the National Fire Protection Association announced on January 7, 1976, the formal appointment of a new electrical standards development committee. Entitled the Committee on Electrical Safety Requirements for Employee Workplaces, NFPA 70E, this new committee reported to the Association through the Technical Correlating Committee on National Electrical Code®. This committee was formed to assist OSHA in preparing electrical safety standards that would serve OSHA's needs and that could be expeditiously promulgated through the provisions of Section 6(b) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. OSHA found that in attempting to utilize the latest edition of NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code® (NEC®), it was confronted with the following problems:
(1) Updating to a new edition of the NEC would have to be accomplished through the OSHA 6(b) procedures. OSHA adopted the 1968 and then the 1971 NEC under Section 6(a) procedures of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. Today, however, OSHA can only adopt or modify a standard by the procedures of Section 6(b) of the OSHA Act, which provide for public notice, opportunity for public comment, and public hearings. The adoption of a new edition of the NEC by these procedures would require extensive effort and application of resources by OSHA and others. Even so, going through the Section 6(b) procedures might result in requirements substantially different from those of the NEC, thereby creating the problem of conflict between the OSHA standard and other national and local standards.
(2) The NEC is intended for use primarily by those who design, install, and inspect electrical installations. OSHA's electrical regulations address employers and employees in their workplaces. The technical content and complexity of the NEC is extremely difficult for the average employer and employee to understand.
(3) Some of the detailed provisions within the NEC are not directly related to employee safety and, therefore, are of little value for OSHA's needs.
(4) Requirements for electrical safety-related work practices and maintenance of the electrical system considered critical to safety are not found in the NEC, which is essentially an electrical installation document.