It seems like the ink has barely dried on the 2021 edition of NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, yet here we are, halfway through the 2024 three-year revision cycle.
It hasn’t always been a three-year cycle. The first edition was published in 1979, followed two years later by the second in 1981. In the earlier years, the revision cycle would vary from two years to as long as five, such as with the 2000 and 2009 editions.
NFPA 70E has been on a three-year revision cycle since the 2012 edition, which means the process starts over again every three years. Each revision cycle follows a published schedule of the development process, which includes specific stages for the process and dates.
It’s a consensus process— get involved!
To some, it may seem like the revision procedure is conducted in an undisclosed location requiring a secret handshake. However, like all NFPA codes and standards, NFPA 70E is based upon a full, open and consensus-based process, which means that anybody can participate and expect fair and equal treatment. You do not have to be a member of NFPA to participate. However, if you are not a member, I encourage you to become one by applying at nfpa.org/NFPA-membership.
The first stage of the revision cycle, known as public input (PI), begins shortly after the last edition is published. Think of this as the proposal stage. A public notice is provided so that those interested in submitting input for the cycle may do so.
The PI stage for the 2024 edition closed on June 1, 2021. With such a large number of public inputs submitted, technical committee subgroups were created for a preliminary review. Then the full committee convened at the first-draft meeting.
First-draft meeting and report
Due to the pandemic, the first-draft meeting was conducted virtually from Aug. 2-6, 2021. The Technical Committee uses the input to develop proposed first revisions to the standard.
The committee’s voting members ballot the first revisions. Text changes must achieve at least a two-thirds majority vote to be included as a first revision in the first-draft report, which serves as documentation of the PI stage and was published for review and comment on March 1, 2022. The report consists of the first revisions, public input, technical committee statements and ballot statements and, if applicable, correlating committee statements, notes and ballot statements.
Public comment stage
The next stage is the public comment period, where anyone may submit a public comment in the form of suggested text on the first draft. Any objections or further changes to the content of the first draft can be submitted during this stage. The public comment stage closed on May 31, 2022.
Second-draft meeting and report
The second-draft meeting is scheduled for August 2022. During this meeting, the Technical Committee reviews the first draft and may propose additional revisions to the standard. The committee considers and addresses all public comments. The public comments are used to assist in developing the proposed second revisions, and once again, text changes require at least a two-thirds majority vote to be included as a second revision.
The second-draft report documents the public comment stage and is published for public review. The report consists of the second revisions, public comments with corresponding committee actions, committee statements, correlating notes with respective committee statements, committee comments, correlating revisions and ballot statements. This report also contains a list of technical Ccommittee and correlating committee members at the time of balloting. The posting date is scheduled for Feb. 28, 2023.
There is still one final opportunity for debate and discussion of issues at the NFPA technical meeting held in June 2023. Before making an authorized motion at this meeting, the motion submitter must file a notice of intent to make a motion, which has a scheduled closing of March 28, 2023, and posting date of May 9, 2023. These motions are attempts to amend the committee’s recommended text published as the second draft.
Publication of the 2024 edition occurs after final steps are taken by the Standards council and the NFPA board of directors.
Before you know it, the process starts all over again, and it will be time for you to get involved once more. Remember, safety is everybody’s business!