Last July, 2014, the National Fire Protection Association issued their 2015 edition of NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace. Since the first edition in 1979, NFPA 70E has been at the vanguard of electrical safety. Previous versions of this standard form the basis of OSHA Subpart S regulations. Both OSHA Compliance Officers and industry electrical safety professionals have long recognized this standard as an essential authoritative reference. An important change in the 2015 edition includes the shift in focus on the management of risk rather than on the hazard. This change reflects a broader health and safety trend that focuses on the risk or probability of harm from a hazard. This change affects all terminology with the standard that had used “hazard”. For instance, the term “arc flash hazard analysis” is now referred to as “arc flash risk analysis”.
Regarding the scope of the NFPA 70E standard, there has been considerable discussion among many involved in electrical safety. Does the standard apply to normal electrical operations or only to instances under abnormal conditions of repair and maintenance? In the previous edition, the hazard/risk category 0 provision was widely interpreted that any interaction with energized electrical equipment over 50 volts, even under normal operating conditions, required the operator to take some form of protective action. This interpretation of scope has largely been addressed with the removal of Hazard/risk category 0 from Table 130.7(C)(16). NFPA states the following: “Hazard/risk category will now be referred to as PPE category. Hazard/risk category 0 was deleted because the new PPE table only specifies PPE for work within the arc flash boundary. If there is no arc flash hazard, then no arc flash PPE is required and it is therefore not necessary on a table devoted to PPE.”
Colden Corporation’s electrical safety service brief (PDF) provides additional information on how we can help our clients manage electrical safety risk. Copies of the latest 2015 version can be found at the NFPA website.