Happy New Year! Even though we are only a few weeks into the new year, NFPA celebrated 2012 several months ago with the introduction of the ninth edition of NFPA 70E, the Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace.

In May 2011, electrical contractor published my article (“It’s Almost Here”) about the more significant changes that were proposed for the 2012 edition (based on a draft of the standard). As a follow-up, it is time to dig a little deeper and look at additional changes that were not included in the earlier article.

110.3(G)(1) Job Briefing
New language makes information from the energized electrical work permit (when required) part of the job briefing.

110.3(H)(1) Electrical Safety Program
Previously, the employer determined the frequency of auditing the electrical safety program. Now the frequency of the audit shall not exceed three years.

110.4(C) Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) Protection
A new section was added that requires employees to be provided with GFCI protection where required by state, federal and local codes and standards. In addition, protection requirements also are defined when an employee is using cord-and-plug-connected equipment outdoors.

110.5 Underground Electrical Lines and Equipment
A new requirement was added regarding identifying and marking the location of electrical lines and equipment and for performing a hazard analysis if there is a reasonable possibility of contacting electrical lines or equipment during the excavation.

130.3(C) Equipment Labeling
The 2009 edition required “either the available incident energy or the required level of PPE” to be on the label (emphasis added). Based on an earlier draft of the 2012 edition, it seemed like we were headed toward similar language with “select only one.” However, the final language was changed to “select at least one of the following” and includes these choices:
• Available incident energy and the corresponding working distance
• Minimum arc rating of clothing
• Required level of PPE
• Highest hazard/risk category for the equipment

In addition, the nominal system voltage and arc flash boundary also are required to be listed on the label.
This revision provides the user more flexibility about what information is included on the label.

130.7(A) Personal and Other Protective Equipment—Informational Note
An informational note was added describing how normal operation of enclosed electrical equipment operating at 600 volts or less that has been properly installed and maintained is not as likely to expose a person to an electrical hazard.

205.2 Single Line Diagram
New text—“in a legible condition and shall be kept current”—was added to the existing requirement of maintaining a single line diagram. This addition emphasizes that the diagram needs to remain up-to-date and reflect the current electrical system.

Informative Annexes
Although the requirements of NFPA 70E are found in the first 56 pages that make up the standard’s three chapters, the 16 informative annexes also contain a lot of important information. Although not officially part of the requirements of NFPA 70E, the 41 pages of annexes provide guidance that ranges from calculation methods to hazard/risk evaluation procedures to guidance in the selection of arc-rated protective clothing and personal equipment. Several of the annexes had significant changes, and a new annex was added.

Informative Annex D—Incident Energy and Arc Flash Boundary Calculation Methods
An arc flash hazard analysis often includes performing incident energy and arc flash boundary calculations. Annex D contains several methods that can be used, including many equations from IEEE 1584, IEEE Guide for Performing Arc Flash Hazard Calculations.

Two additions of note were made to this annex. The first incorporates what the industry refers to as the “2-second rule” from IEEE 1584. Depending on various conditions, such a person’s ability to quickly move away from an arc flash, the use of a 2-second cutoff for the arc flash duration may be used in the calculations.

The second addition is an equation for calculating the incident energy from a direct current (DC) arc flash. This section references additional technical papers and research related to DC arc flash.

Informative Annex F—Hazard Analysis, Risk Estimation and Risk Evaluation Procedure
This annex has been greatly expanded to provide guidance for risk assessment, which includes risk estimation and risk evaluation. This approach can be helpful in determining the appropriate protective measures necessary to reduce the probability of harm occurring in the circumstances under consideration.

Informative Annex G—Sample Lockout/Tagout Procedure
This annex provides guidance for the development of lockout/tagout procedures that satisfy the requirements found in 120.2 of NFPA 70E. Similar to 120.2, “Individual Employee Control Procedure” has been deleted as one of the methods that can be used. Only two methods are now listed, including both simple and complex lockout/tagout procedures.

Informative Annex H—Guidance on Selection of Protective
Clothing and Other Personal Protective Equipment
This annex previously outlined a simple two-category approach for flame--resistant (now arc-rated) clothing systems. It has now been expanded into four sections. The first section is for the selection of arc-rated clothing and other personal-protective equipment (PPE) when hazard/risk categories are used. The second section outlines the use of a simplified two-category approach, similar to the 2009 edition. The third section provides guidance for the selection of appropriate arc-rated clothing and PPE based on the incident energy exposure. The fourth section provides a two-level approach for arc-rated clothing and PPE selection based on knowing the bolted short-circuit current, protective-device clearing time and voltage.

Informative Annex J—Energized Electrical Work Permit
Article 130.2(B)(2) defines the requirements of the energized electrical work permit (EEWP). A few changes were made to these requirements, and the sample EEWP contained in Annex J was revised to reflect the changes.

Informative Annex M—Layering of Protective Clothing and Total System Arc Rating
New language was added that states non-arc-rated garments should not be used to increase the arc rating of a garment or clothing system.

Informative Annex O—Safety Related Design Requirements
A new section was added regarding arc energy reduction. The new text refers to the use of circuit breakers that are rated or can be adjusted to 1,000 amperes or more. A list is provided of effective arc flash energy-reducing methods which includes zone-selective interlocking, differential relaying and an energy-reducing maintenance switch with a local status indicator. These three methods are the same as those referenced in Section 240.87 of the 2011 edition of the National Electrical Code.

Informative Annex P—Aligning Implementation of This Standard With Occupational and Safety Management Standards
This new annex has been added to provide guidance for implementing NFPA 70E within the framework of ANSI/AIHA Z10 and other recognized occupational health and safety management system standards.

Have a good idea?
Of the 103 pages of the 2012 NFPA 70E, an important one isn’t numbered. It is the last page, labeled the “NFPA Document Proposal Form.” NFPA 70E continues to improve with every revision cycle. Often the improvements result from someone’s good idea. This revision cycle had 548 proposals. How many will there be in the next cycle? Let the good ideas flow!


PHILLIPS, founder of www.brainfiller.com and www.ArcFlashForum.com, is an internationally known educator on electrical power systems and author of “Complete Guide to Arc Flash Hazard Calculation Studies.” His experience includes industrial, commercial and utility systems, and he is a member of the IEEE 1584 Arc Flash Working Group. Reach him at jphillips@brainfiller.com.