Change Is On The Way! 2015 NFPA 70E

By Jim Phillips | May 15, 2014




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Deja vu?

Déjà vu is that feeling you get when you think you have seen or done something before. NFPA 70E is giving us all déjà vu since it was just three short years ago, in 2011, that we were analyzing changes for the upcoming 2012 edition (see “It’s Almost Here,” May 2011 at It’s time for that feeling once again as we move toward completion of the 2015 edition.

What's new?

Some of the terminology used during this revision cycle has changed. Request for Proposals are now called Public Input (PI), and this revision cycle had 448 PIs. The Report on Proposals (ROP) is now called the First Draft, and what was previously called the Report on Comments (ROC) is referred to as the Second Draft.

The changes this article outlines are based on what was known at the time of writing. It does not include every change made, and much of the language is paraphrased due to space limitations. Since the NFPA Standards Council has not formally approved the final document, there is always the possibility of additional changes. Therefore, always refer to the final approved version when it is published.

Global changes

Several terms used throughout NFPA 70E have been changed for the 2015 edition. The left column in the terms table above refers to the term used in the 2012 edition and the right column lists the new corresponding term for 2015.

Please note: all references to hazard/risk category (HRC) have been deleted throughout the standard. Arc flash PPE category is the revised term.

Article 90 Introduction

90.2 Scope

90.2(A) Covered: The words “safety-related maintenance requirements, and other administrative controls” have been added to what is covered to emphasize the importance of maintenance.

90.2(B) Not Covered: The reference to “Installations underground in mines and self-propelled mobile surface mining machinery and its attendant electrical trailing cable” has been deleted from the not covered section, meaning it is now covered.

Article 100 Definitions


Bare-hand work: This definition has been deleted.

Prohibited approach boundary: All references to the prohibited approach boundary have been deleted throughout the 2015 edition. Once the restricted approach boundary was crossed, there were no other requirements. 


Restricted approach boundary: The word “risk” has been replaced by “likelihood.”

Incident energy: This definition now references thermal energy instead of just energy.

Qualified person: This definition changed from “one who has the skills and knowledge” to “one who has demonstrated the skills and knowledge.” Also the word “recognize” has been changed to “identify and avoid the hazards.”


Hazard: A source of possible injury or damage to health

Hazardous: Involving exposure to at least one hazard

Risk: Refers to a combination of both the likelihood of injury occurrence and the severity

Risk assessment: A process that identifies the hazards, estimates the potential severity of injury or damage to health, estimates the likelihood of the injury occurrence or damage to health, and determines if protective measures are required

Article 110 General Requirements for Electrical Safety-Related Work Practices

This article was reorganized by moving Section 110.3 Electrical Safety Program to 110.1 and moving 110.1 Relationships with Contractors (renamed Host and Contract Employers Responsibilities) to Section 110.3.

The order is now 110.1 Electrical Safety Program, 110.2 Training Requirements, and 110.3 Host and Contract Employers Responsibilities.


110.1(A) General: The language “activity appropriate for the electrical hazards” has been changed to “activity appropriate to the risk associated with electrical hazards.”

110.1(B) Maintenance: This new addition states that “The electrical safety program shall include elements that consider condition of maintenance of electrical equipment and systems.” The addition of this new section means that subsequent sections are renumbered.

110.1(F) Electrical Safety Program Procedures: The reference to both the limited approach boundary and arc flash boundary has been deleted. New language emphasizes that “An electrical safety program shall identify the procedures to be utilized before work is started by employees exposed to an electrical hazard.”

110.1(G) Risk Assessment Procedure: The title was changed to align with the emphasis on risk assessment. The reference to limited approach boundary and arc flash boundary was deleted.


110.2(A) Safety Training: New language was added to emphasize the element of risk. It reads, “when the risk associated with that hazard is not reduced to a safe level.”

110.2(C) Emergency Response Training: This section was renamed and subdivided into four parts.

(1) Contact Release: This section now requires annual refresher training.

(2) First Aid, Emergency Response and Resuscitation: New language now requires annual refresher training for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED). This changed the existing language that required annual certification by the employer.

(3) Training Verification: New language requires that “Employers shall verify at least annually that employee training required by this section is current.”

(4) Documentation: “The employer shall document that the training required by this section has occurred.”

110.2(D)(1) Qualified Person

110.2 (D)(1)(b)(4): The decision-making process was converted to a list of four items that includes the following:

“i) Perform the job safety planning ii) Identify electrical hazards iii) Assess the associated risk iv) Select the appropriate risk control methods from the hierarchy of controls identified in 110.1(G) including selecting the personal protective equipment.”

110.2(D)(1)(e): The term “voltage detector” was replaced with “test instrument.”

110.2(E) Training Documentation

Informational Note No. 1: A new informational note states that the training content could be one or more of the following: the syllabus, curriculum outline, table of contents or training objectives.


110.3: The title of this section was changed from “Relationships with Contractors.”

110.3(C) Documentation: New text was added to this section: “Where the host employer has knowledge of hazards covered by this standard that are related to the contract employer’s work,” there shall be a documented meeting between the host employer and the contract employer.


110.4(C) Ground-Fault Interrupter (GFCI) Protection

(2) Maintenance and Construction: This new section states, “GFCI protection shall be provided for operating or using cord and plug connected tools related to maintenance and construction activity supplied by 125 volt, 15, 20, or 30 ampere circuits. Where employees operate or use equipment supplied by greater than 125 volt, 15, 20, or 30 ampere circuits either GFCI protection or an assured equipment grounding conductor program shall be implemented.”

Article 120 Establishing an Electrically Safe Work Condition

120.1 Verification of an Electrically Safe Work Condition: The title was changed from “Process of Achieving an Electrically Safe Work Condition.”

(5): The term “rated voltage detector” was changed to “rated test instrument” and “through verification on a known voltage source” was added to verify the test instrument is operating satisfactorily.


120.2(B)(3) Retraining: Retraining shall be at intervals not exceeding three years. This rule has been added to the existing language, which also requires retraining when the procedure is revised.

120.2(B)(4) Training Documentation: This new addition requires documenting when each employee receives training required by this section. The documentation shall be made when the employee demonstrates proficiency in work practices involved, and the documentation shall contain the content of the training, the employee’s name and dates of the training.

120.2(E)(4)(e): Additional language was added regarding hold cards. Now a method of accounting for personnel who are working under the protection of the hold card must be included.

120.3(A) Temporary Protective Grounding Equipment: New text states that the location, sizing and application of temporary protective grounding equipment shall be identified as part of the employer’s job planning.

Article 130 Work Involving Electrical Hazards

130.1 General: New language clarifies what Article 130 covers, including the following:

1. When an electrically safe work condition must be established

2. The electrical safety-related work practices when an electrically safe work condition cannot be established

130.2(A)(4) Normal Operation: The word “interaction” can still cause some confusion regarding work practices. This new section states that normal operation of electric equipment shall be permitted where all of the following conditions regarding the equipment are satisfied:

1. The equipment is properly installed.

2. The equipment is properly maintained.

3. All equipment doors are closed and secured.

4. All equipment covers are in place and secured.

5. There is no evidence of impending failure.


130.2(B)(1) When Required: References to the limited approach and arc flash boundaries have been deleted, and the new language states, “When energized work is permitted in accordance with 130.2(A) an energized electrical work permit (EEWP) is required under the following conditions:

“(1) When work is performed within the restricted approach boundary or

“(2) When the employee interacts with the equipment when conductors or circuit parts are not exposed but an increased likelihood of injury from an exposure to an arc flash exists.”

130.2(B)(2) Elements of Work Permit: This section now requires the results of the shock risk assessment rather than shock hazard analysis and must include the voltage to which personnel will be exposed. “Arc flash hazard analysis” was changed to “arc flash risk assessment,” and the working distance must now be included if the incident energy is provided.

130.2(B)(3) Exemptions to Work Permit: This section was reworded and includes the following exceptions:

• Testing, troubleshooting and voltage measuring

• Thermography and visual inspection if the restricted approach boundary (RAB) is not crossed

• Access/egress from an area with energized electrical equipment with no electrical work and the RAB is not crossed

• General housekeeping and miscellaneous nonelectrical tasks if the RAB is not crossed.


130.4(A) Shock Risk Assessment: The title was changed from “Shock Hazard Analysis.”

Table 130.4(C)(a) Approach Boundaries to Energized Electrical Conductors: The prohibited approach boundary was deleted from the table. The second row was changed from 50V–300V to 50V–150V, and the third row was changed from 301V–750V to 151V–750V.


The title was changed from “Arc Flash Hazard Analysis.” The arc flash risk assessment shall determine if the arc flash hazard exists. If it does, the risk assessment shall determine the appropriate safety-related work practices, the arc flash boundary and the personal protective equipment (PPE) to be used within the arc flash boundary.

Informational Note No.1: New language was added to this informational note that states: “Where equipment is not properly installed or properly maintained, PPE selection based upon incident energy analysis or the PPE category method may not provide adequate protection from arc flash hazards.”

130.5(A) Documentation: This new section requires the results of the arc flash risk assessment to be documented.

130.5(B) Arc Flash Boundary: In addition to the existing definition of the arc flash boundary being the distance where the incident energy equals 1.2 cal/cm2, new language has been added permitting the arc flash boundary to be determined by Table 130.7(C)(15)(A)(b) or Table 130.7(C)(15)(B) when the requirements of the tables apply.

130.5(C) Arc Flash PPE: New text emphasizes that only one method shall be used for selecting PPE at the same piece of equipment. These methods include either the results of an incident energy analysis or the arc flash PPE category method but not both. Language was also added to specifically prohibit using the results of an incident energy analysis to specify an arc flash PPE category in Table 130.7(C)(16).

130.5(D) Equipment Labeling: The arc flash labeling require-ments still include the nominal system voltage and arc flash boundary as in the past. However, new language further clarifies how to label the PPE requirements.

The revised language states at least one of the following:

•  Either the available incident energy with the corresponding working distance or the arc flash PPE category in Table 130.7(C)(15)(A)(b) or Table 130.7(C)(15)(B) shall be listed but not both.

•  Minimum arc rating of clothing is required.

•  Site-specific level of PPE is required.

This section now specifies that the owner of the electrical equipment is responsible for the documentation, installation and maintenance of the field-marked label.


Table 130.7(C)(15)(A)(a) Arc Flash Hazard Identification for Alternating Current (AC) and Direct Current (DC) Systems: This new table is used for determining when arc flash PPE is required for both AC and DC electrical systems. The tables use a simple yes or no if arc flash PPE is required and are based on the task to be performed and the equipment condition. Equipment condition parameters include whether the equipment is properly installed and maintained, all equipment doors are closed and secured, covers are in place and secured, and there is evidence of impending failure.

New PPE Category Tables—General Comment: New tables have been developed based on the PPE category. The hazard/risk references have been deleted. Category 0 and the columns for rubber gloves and insulated tools have been deleted. Some of the arc flash boundaries have been rounded to the nearest foot.

Table 130.7(C)(15)(A)(b)—Arc Flash Hazard PPE Categories for Alternating Current (AC) Systems: This table defines the PPE categories for AC systems. Specific tasks have been deleted, and it now lists equipment, arc flash PPE category and the arc flash boundary.

Table 130.7(C)(15)(B)—Arc Flash Hazard PPE Categories for Direct Current (DC) Systems: This table defines the PPE categories for DC systems. Specific tasks have been deleted, and it now lists equipment, arc flash PPE category and the arc flash boundary.

130.7(D)(1) Insulated Tools and Equipment: This section now references the restricted approach boundary instead of the limited approach boundary and applies when working inside the restricted approach boundary of exposed energized electrical conductors or circuit parts where tools or handling equipment might make accidental contact.

130.7(E)(2) Barricades: This section now includes the arc flash boundary. Barricades shall be placed at the greater of the limited approach boundary or the arc flash boundary.

Chapter 2 Safety-Related Maintenance Requirements


200.1 Scope: Informational Note No. 3 now references IEEE 3007.2—IEEE Recommended Practice for the Maintenance of Industrial and Commercial Power Systems.

205.3 General Maintenance Requirements: This expanded section includes new language that states, “The equipment owner or the owner’s designated representative shall be responsible for maintenance of the electrical equipment and documentation.”

A new informational note regarding text and calibration labels was added that states, “Common industry practice is to apply test or calibration decals to equipment to indicate the test or calibration date and overall condition of equipment that has been tested and maintained in the field. These decals provide the employee immediate indication of last maintenance date and if the tested device or system was found acceptable on the date of test. This local information can assist the employee in the assessment of overall electrical equipment maintenance status.”

Deja vu?

Been here before? Yes, we have. The 2015 edition will be the tenth time NFPA 70E has been published since it was introduced in 1979. Each new edition continues to improve electrical safety in the workplace.

About The Author

PHILLIPS, P.E., is founder of and provides training globally.  He is Vice-Chair of IEEE 1584 Arc Flash Working Group, International Chair of IEC TC78 Live Working Standards and Technical Committee Member of NFPA 70E.  He can be reached at [email protected].






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