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November 3, 2017

Important NFPA 70E Changes for 2018

2018 edition of NFPA 70E
Like many other workplace safety items, electrical equipment and safety device technologies evolve and change almost constantly. That's why the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) releases an updated version of its NFPA 70E: Standards for Electrical Safety in the Workplace every three years. And 2018 brings a new, updated version intended to help you comply with OSHA 1910 Subpart S and OSHA 1926 Subpart K. 

What's New in the 2018 NFPA 70E

The 2018 edition of NFPA 70E reflects the latest information about the effects of arc flash, arc blast and direct current (DC) hazards, and recent developments in electrical design and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The 2018 NFPA 70E emphasizes the need to use the hierarchy of risk controls, by moving it from an informational note into the text of the Standard. NFPA 70E now explicitly states that the first priority must be the elimination of the hazard.
Other changes in this edition noted by NFPA include:

  • A modified arc flash hazard identification table [Table 130.7(C)(15)(A)(a)] makes it easier to determine the likelihood that an arc flash could occur.
  • Reorganized Article 120 presents the requirements for establishing an electrically safe work condition in a logical order of application of the program.
  • Changes to Article 320 introduce voltage thresholds of 100 Vdc specifically for batteries and battery rooms to cover the unique situations in these locations.
  • Extensively revised Article 330 on lasers now focuses on safety-related maintenance issues rather than issues associated with laser use.
  • Article 350 introduces an Electrical Safety Authority as a possible authority having jurisdiction for laboratories.
Shock and arc flash hazard Appropriate PPE required

A recent article in OH&S, written by David Weszely, Safety and Training Manager at Lewellyn Technology, discusses some of the most important updates to NFPA 70E. Here are some key points from his article:

A "qualified person" is required to complete a Job Safety Analysis (JSA) before starting work. 

New article 130.7 (C)(16) personal protective equipment conformity assessment is intended to promote consistency regarding personal protective equipment testing. The conformity assessment would be effective on Jan. 1, 2018. 

Arc flash and shock hazard risk assessment now include the "potential of human error." When filling out a JSA or a job safety plan, a new "human error concept" is to be applied to workplace electrical safety under the concept of a human performance factor. To address these characteristics, a "qualified person" will need to be trained in these factors:
  • Identify possible causes of human error
  • How human performance can affect job performance
  • Using human performance tools provided in Annex Q
  • Completing a job site review of human performance tools used

Electrical safety programs
must include a section on how to investigate an incident/accident.

Advice on how to get up to date with 2018 NFPA 70E:

  • Make sure all "qualified workers" have access to the 2018 NFPA 70E standard.
  • Ensure your electrical safety program is updated.
  • Schedule on-site NFPA 70E electrical safety training.

More about NFPA 70E from the NFPA:

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, 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.

NFPA 70E and Electrical Safety Resources:

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