Electrical safety is a serious issue and it is imperative that plant managers, safety managers, facility managers, electricians, maintenance personnel and contractors receive proper training on the NFPA 70E-STANDARD for Electrical Safety in the Workplace. Having the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) on hand is not enough. Workers must be educated and have a good understanding of the importance of NFPA 70E. OSHA relies on this document to assist in evaluating electrical safety programs.

Understand & prepare for hazards

Electrical safety begins with understanding the hazards such as electrical shock and electrical arc flash. If skin comes in contact with electricity, it may be fatal. In an electrical arc flash, temperatures can reach 35,000°F, which is four times hotter than the surface of the sun. Fatal burns can occur at a distance as far as 10 feet. Before starting a job, perform a shock hazard and arc flash analysis to establish proper boundaries. As you prepare to start the job, make sure you have the proper PPE needed to complete the task, then lock out/tag out the equipment and verify the power is off. Until you confirm the power is off, it is considered live. Once those steps are completed, you can proceed with the task.

Training in NFPA 70 E will provide employees the knowledge in electrical shock and arc flash hazard analysis in the hazard risk category. In addition, instructions are provided for arc flash protection boundaries, how to approach energized electrical conductors and circuit parts, voltage and cal ratings and proper PPE needed to perform the specific task.

All the right reasons

Besides the OSHA requirement, following the electrical safety guidelines of NFPA 70E is the responsible and ethical thing to do. Many people think they do not need to follow the NFPA 70E procedures because they have done the same job for a long time and are careful enough day-to-day. However, unsafe conditions are present everywhere, and accidents do occur. If you could speak to someone who was injured working on an electrical job, I am sure they would tell you they never thought it would happen to them. It only takes a second for a distraction to lead to injury. The cost of the proper PPE and training is minimal compared to the risk of serious injury or, worse yet, a fatality.

If you are not in compliance and need NFPA 70E training, there are many consultants available to come to your facility to train your personnel. You may also contact NFPA directly, as they offer 70E classes throughout the country.