The 2018 edition of NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®, addresses issues that should be put into practice at any workplace, whether there are electrical risks or not. New voluntary requirements and guidance cover risk assessment, the hierarchy of controls, human error, job safety planning, management systems, work performance and workplace culture.

  • Risk assessment: 70E 2018 mandates a risk assessment that requires you to address human error and its negative consequences on people, processes, work environments, and equipment. 
  • The standard defines risk assessment as an overall process that identifies hazards, estimates the likelihood of occurrence of injury or damage to health, estimates the potential severity of injury or damage to health, and determines if protective measures are required.
  • Hierarchy of risk control measures:  Eliminating the risk is the first priority. If not feasible, substituting a lower risk process is the next alternative. Depending on feasibility, resources, and conditions, the hierarchy goes on to mandate, in rank order, engineering controls, awareness, administrative controls, and use of personal protective equipment. 
  • Job safety planning: This is a new requirement. The Job Safety Plan must be completed by a competent person; be documented; and include the following information:
  1. A description of the job and the individual risks;
  2. Identification of the electrical hazards associated with each task;
  3. A shock risk assessment for tasks involving a shock hazard;
  4. An arc flash risk assessment for tasks involving an arc flash hazard;
  5. Work procedures involved, special precautions, and energy source controls.
  • Human performance: Principles of human performance are:
  1. People are fallible and even the best people make mistakes;
  2. Error-likely situations and conditions are predictable, manageable, and preventable;
  3. Individual performance is influenced by organizational processes and values;
  4. People achieve high levels of performance largely due to encouragement and reinforcement received from leaders, peers and subordinates;
  5. Incidents can be avoided by understanding the reasons mistakes occur and applying lessons learned from past incidents.
  • Error precursors: These include task demands – mental, physical or team requirements to perform that exceed the capabilities or challenge the limitations of the individuals assigned the task; work environment; individual capabilities – mental, physical and emotional characteristics do not match the demands of the task; and human nature – traits, dispositions and limitations common to all persons incline an individual to err under unfavorable conditions.
  • Work performance red flags: Individuals or groups exhibit self-imposed production pressure.
  • Work activities are considered routine. Individuals are quick to make risky judgments without taking the time to fully understand the situation. Past success without adverse outcomes becomes the basis for continuing current practices. Individuals are not willing to report high-risk conditions.
  • Workplace culture 70E 2018 calls for all employees at a workplace to cultivate and consistently exhibit a culture that supports the use of human performance tools and principles; promotes open communication; values preventing error-likely situations and conditions; and establishes a blame-free culture that supports incident reporting and proactively identifies and reacts appropriately to risk.