Through the years, I have instructed many seminars for folks using NFPA 70E, the Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace. Participants often ask the same questions. Here are the most frequently asked questions about NFPA 70E.
Does 70E apply to personnel performing electrical installations?
Yes, it does. See Section 90.2(A) and (A)(1) in 70E.
Does 70E apply to generation plants and substations that come under the jurisdiction of a utility?
No, 70E does not apply to such locations. See Section 90.2(B)(5) and the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC), Rule 447.
Do the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and 70E require electrical equipment installers to be licensed?
No, see the definition of a “qualified person” in Article 100 and Section 110.2(A) through (E) as well as OSHA 1910.399 and 1910.332(a) through (c).
Are electrical worker employers responsible for training employees?
Yes, they are, and in addition to training, they must provide a program outlining safety-related work practices. See Section 105.3.
Does an employer have to document that its employees have up-to-date training?
Yes, it does. Section 110.2(E) explains this procedure in detail.
Is there a timeline in 70E when employees must be retrained?
Yes, the timeline can be found in Section 110.2(D)(3), and it must not exceed a three-year period. Also, if an employee has not performed a task on a piece of equipment in a year, he or she must be retrained on that equipment as listed in Section 110.2(D)(1)(d).
What standards are recommended for determining if a person is qualified?
NFPA 70E, 110.2(D) and OSHA 1910.399, Notes 1 and 2 are good places to start to obtain such requirements.
Are there responsibilities between the host employer and the contract employer?
Yes, there are. See Section 110.1(A) and (B).
Can an unqualified person cross the arc flash boundary and help a qualified person perform a job task?
Yes, as long as they do not cross from the limited boundary into the restricted boundary as outlined in Section 130.4(D)(1) and (2). Also, see Annex C.
When is an employee considered to be working on energized conductors and circuit parts?
See the definition of “Working On (energized electrical conductors or circuit parts)” in Article 100.
Does 70E provide information that a facility can use to implement an electrical safety program?
Yes, Section 110.3(A) through (H) and Annex J are very helpful in developing an electrical safety program for employees.
Is a job briefing required before starting to place an electrical system into an electrically safe work condition?
In my opinion, yes. See the requirements of Section 110.3(G) and Annex I.
Is there a section in 70E that can be help a person understand the proper method of testing for the absence of voltage on an energized circuit?
Yes, there is such a section: 110.4(A)(1) through (A)(5). It explains, in detail, the proper procedure for using a tester for measuring voltage, current, etc.
Can the blades of an attachment cap be rearranged so that they mate and can be plugged into a receptacle outlet?
No, Section 110.4(B)(3)(c) prohibits this kind of connection for cord-and-plug-connected equipment.
The inspector told my electrician that equipment can be purchased that would help reduce the hazard/risk category (HRC), when used by my electricians. What equipment is he talking about?
The Informational Note to Section 110.4(B)(3)(d) lists batteries, hydraulics, and air as equipment that can be used for such purposes.
How often should a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) be checked for safe operation?
Section 110.4(D) instructs the user to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for requirements pertaining to GFCI testing.
Does 70E outline requirements for establishing an electrically safety work condition, and if so, which part addresses this condition when energized conductors and circuit parts exist?
Yes, 70E covers requirements for placing equipment into an electrically safety work condition. Information for lockout/tagout (LOTO) is located in Section 120.1, items (1) through (6).
Does 70E require personnel applying a LOTO procedure to be trained every year?
No, but training for employees is required if the established procedure is revised or new technology or another type of equipment is used that produces a hazard that is different than before. Note that a yearly audit must be performed. See sections 120.2(B)(2) and (C)(3).
In lieu of calculating the hazardous energy in calories per centimeter squared, does 70E permit Table 130.7(C)(15)(a) as an alternative method to determine the HRC?
Yes, for lieu of permission, see sections 130.1, 130.5 Ex. and 130.7(15), and follow the listed requirements.
Can a circuit breaker be reset after tripping without further investigation?
Not until it has been determined that the circuit and equipment can safely be re-energized. See Section 130.6(L) for details.
STALLCUP is the CEO of Grayboy Inc., which develops and authors publications for the electrical industry and specializes in classroom training on the National Electrical Code and other standards, including those from OSHA. Contact him at 817.581.2206.