The famous phrase “The more things change, the more they stay the same” has never been further from the truth than when it comes to NFPA 70E, the Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace. Many changes occur with each new edition in an effort to continually improve electrical safety. It seems like the ink was barely dry on the 2012 edition when the revision cycle began all over again for the 2015 edition. You read that correctly—2015!

However, this time around, not only will there be changes to NFPA 70E, but the entire revision process has also changed. No more report on proposals (ROP) or report on comments (ROC).

Get involved with change!
Like so many other people, when a new edition is released, I often hear comments such as, “Why don’t they word it like... ,” “I think this section should be... , ” or “I have a thought for the next edition...”. Do you have a good idea? Here is your opportunity to get involved. Since NFPA 70E is a consensus standard, the public is involved in the process and can provide proposals. Interested? There still is time to submit your proposal (now known as public- input), but you must hurry. The deadline for public input is June 22, 2012.

Input stage
The revision cycle begins with a call for the public to submit proposals, now known as the public input stage (formerly known as the proposal stage). This is where recommendations are sought from the public that may be used to develop the first draft of the next edition. To submit a recommendation for the 2015 edition, use an NFPA public input form, which can be found at www.nfpa.org.

The actual development of a first draft is a significant shift from past revision cycles. Rather than the committee reviewing each public proposal and then accepting or rejecting each one as in the past, the focus of the committee now is to develop a complete draft of the revised standard. The committee will then segment the revisions in the first draft into individual revisions (known as first revisions) for the purpose of balloting. By developing a draft at this earlier stage of the revision cycle, the committee can ballot the actual revised text rather than the proposal. This is designed to clarify and improve the overall process.

First draft report
After the balloting is complete, a first draft report (formerly known as the ROP) is produced. This report contains a complete record of the first stage, including all public input, committee statements and other relevant input. This report will be published on the new NFPA standards development website as an online publication.

Comment stage and second draft report
The comment stage is similar to the comment stage of the previous process. During this stage, the public can review the first draft report, and interested parties can submit public comments to propose further changes.

Once the committee has completed work and balloted the second draft, a report of activities including comments, committee actions and statements and a complete second draft with appropriate links to all comments will be published on the NFPA website. This is known as the second draft report (formerly called the ROC). Soon after this report is posted, notices of intent to make amending motions (NITMAMs) can be filed.

The end?
Once the next revision cycle is complete and the 2015 edition of NFPA 70E is published, new changes will make it better than ever. The entire revision process takes a monumental effort and includes the public, the NFPA 70E committee, NFPA staff and countless others—all with one goal: to continue to improve electrical safety in the workplace.

Before you know it, the 2015 edition will be here, the ink will barely be dry and we will begin thinking about doing it all over again. However, when it comes to NFPA 70E, the more things change, the more things improve.

Note: This is a very brief summary of the revision process. For complete details of the cycle and regulations, visit www.nfpa.org.


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.