NFPA 70E HDBK
Handbook for Electrical Safety in the Workplace
|Publication Date:||1 January 2015|
It is important to understand that the National Electrical Code (NEC) applies to installations (premises wiring systems), and NFPA 70E applies to employee workplaces that are located on premises that have premises wiring systems. Installations and employee workplaces are located on various types of premises. A premises is a location that may consist of buildings, other structures, and grounds, or any combination of the three. NFPA 70E is not intended to be applicable to workplaces or work environments found in all types of premises. When locations become employee workplaces, 90.2 makes clear which employee workplaces and the premises thereon are intended to be covered by the work policies (practices), procedures (including practices), and process controls (metrics) found in this document.
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 after the load side of the service point, which is where the owner of the facility or the owner's representative 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.
On the utility side of the service point - the part owned, operated, and maintained by the utility company - utility-type safety rules are often followed, such as those included in ANSI C2, National Electrical Safety Code. Although not required by NFPA 70E, an employee on the utility side of the service point that is not qualified to follow the utility-type safety rules is required by OSHA to follow the safety procedures identified in its general industry safety standards and as defined by NFPA 70E.
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, safe from unacceptable risk associated with the use of electricity in the workplace. By the use of an appropriate mix of safety controls from the hierarchy of safety controls, as explained in Informative Annex F, the risks associated with the use of electricity in the workplace can be reduce to an acceptable level. (See Informative Annex P commentary for more information on the hierarchy of safety controls.)
Some of the controls included in the hierarchy of safety controls are the following:
• Engineering controls (enclosures)
• Awareness (warnings, such as arc flash hazard equipment label)
• Administrative controls (safe work policies/procedures including practices, and process controls/metrics)
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 practically eliminated.
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary essentially defines the word practical as "capable of being put to into use or action." The safety controls being discussed here are not impractical or unrealistic; they are sound, viable, workable applications of safety procedures and policies that will be implemented by the employer and employee.
When electrical equipment is used in accordance with its listings or the manufacturer's instructions - providing it has been properly installed and maintained - the risk of injury from the use of electricity should be minimal, especially under normal operating conditions. However, as indicated by use of the word practical, the 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.
Where electricity is used in the workplace, 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 the potentially dangerous situations. Employees need to be qualified to perform required tasks involving interaction with equipment utilizing electricity. The safe work procedures identified in NFPA 70E are meant to be used by qualified persons, not by inadequately or untrained workers.
NFPA 70E, like many safety standards, defines requirements that are based on the safety controls identified in the hierarchy of safety controls starting with the most effective safety control and ending with what is considered the least effective safety control (see Informative Annex P for more on the hierarchy of safety controls). This document utilizes or identifies all of the safety controls identified in this hierarchy, but one of the main strategies is that of creating an electrically safe work condition. Only under limited circumstances is energized electrical work allowed to be performed without creating an electrically safe work condition.
Electrical equipment is to be considered energized until an electrically safe work condition is established by taking the steps necessary to verify that de-energization has taken place and will remain in effect. The process of creating an electrically safe work condition involves risks from which the employee is to be protected by following appropriate safe work procedures and by the use of appropriate PPE. Creating an electrically safe work condition is the use of elimination, which is the first of the safety controls covered in this document (see Informative Annex P and the inside cover of this handbook for more on the hierarchy of safety controls).
The use of PPE is the last and least effective safety control that can be used before an event happens, but it is still an important safety control for avoiding injury from electrical hazards. This standard covers in detail the selection, use, and care of PPE. NFPA 70E establishes safety processes that use policies (principles), procedures (including practices), and program controls (monitoring) to reduce the risk associated with the use of electricity in the workplace to an acceptable level. It is all about practical, accomplishable electrical safety and about the worker going home safe at the end of the day to his or her family.