Has It Been Three Years Already? Updates to NFPA 70E’s training requirements

By Jim Phillips | Mar 15, 2024
Has It Been Three Years Already? NFPA 70E's training requirements
NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, provides a road map for electrical safety and the necessary training.




Experience may be one of the best teachers, but you don’t want to learn about the hazards of electricity the hard way. I have conducted many investigations and the outcome of this “training method” rarely ends well.

Fortunately, NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, provides a road map for electrical safety and the necessary training.

Time for training!

A new edition of NFPA 70E is published every three years, so it is time again to learn about the latest changes and revisions to the latest (2024) edition. According to NFPA 70E:

110.4(3) Additional Training and Retraining. “Additional training and retraining in safety-related work practices and applicable changes in this standard shall be performed at intervals not to exceed 3 years.”

Why? NFPA 70E moved to a standard three-year revision cycle in 2009 to ensure people are current with the latest requirements. In the early years, the time between revisions varied from 2–5 years.

110.4 Training Requirements. Requirements in this section include identifying and avoiding electrical hazards, using applicable precautionary techniques, PPE and more. One key element is about the qualified person. This person shall be able to perform the job safety planning, identify electrical hazards, assess the associated risk, select the appropriate risk control methods from the hierarchy of controls and more.

According to 110.4(A)(1), the qualified person “shall be trained and knowledgeable…” A common theme during my investigations revolves around whether the person had been properly trained. Simply attending a training program does not translate into being knowledgeable. Did the person understand and retain the information? 

One such investigation involved an electrical worker that was severely injured from an arc flash. When questioned about electrical safety training, they stated they went through training, which was documented by their signature on a sign-in list. However, under deposition during legal proceedings, they admitted they sat in the back with sunglasses on, sleeping through much of it.

Being engaged is critical—a dynamic presentation is invaluable and should include demonstrations, examples, stories and more to help keep attention. Encouraging questions and back-and-forth exchanges are imperative.

Training unqualified persons?

Wouldn’t training unqualified persons make them qualified? Not exactly. Training for unqualified persons is addressed in 110.4(A)(2) Unqualified Persons. This section states: “Unqualified persons shall be trained in and be familiar with any electrical safety-related practices necessary for their safety.” An example is administrative personnel who need a fundamental understanding of electrical hazards relevant to their jobs, such as knowing to not plug in a printer with a frayed cord or tuck cords under carpet.


Years ago, when electrical safety training and NFPA 70E were gaining increased attention, there were those quick to volunteer “free training,” often in a lunch-and-learn format. This might include watching videos and hearing horror stories about electrical hazards while eating pizza with a pitch at the end: “And we have a product to make you safer.”

Management’s response may be, “Electrical safety training—check.” No, it was a commercial. As a result, documenting the training’s content has become important and could include details such as a course syllabus, outline or similar information.

Types of training

NFPA 70E lists several training formats. The most common is traditional classroom training led by an instructor. On-the-job training is also important for hands-on learning.

Interactive electronic and web-based training were added to the 2021 edition of NFPA 70E. The addition was not a knee-jerk reaction to the pandemic. The public input had been submitted in 2018—who knew?

Although face-to-face training is still important, web-based training is the new normal for many companies. A major advantage is that employees working remotely can participate. Another benefit is people who could not attend training in the past due to travel costs can now attend virtually.

Take care when making an online presentation so you are not simply narrating slides. It is difficult to keep the attention of even the most well-caffeinated person. Instead, it is better to include live demonstrations and personal interaction as part of the online training.

The time is now

It is time for you and your employees to stay current with refresher and update training. Maintain your investment in knowledge. It will pay dividends in the long run. / Polina Vari

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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