NFPA 70E Compliance Solutions

It is estimated that the combination of a workplace injury and equipment downtime can cost as much as 8-10 million dollars.

The NFPA 70E Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace reinforces the rule to de-energize electrical equipment before any work is performed on or near it. However, there are instances when de-energization is not feasible and work must be performed on live equipment. Both situations require full compliance with NFPA 70E and lockout tagout procedures that include an arc flash assessment and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

While basic compliance to NFPA 70E requirements is established with a five-step process, a sixth step assists the facility owner with fine tuning the electrical power system, both for safety and operability.

Step 1: Develop and Audit Electrical Safe Work Practices (ESWP) Policy

This is a written document created by the employer that covers all areas of the company’s electrical safety practices. It includes such things as lockout/tagout procedures, method of qualifying the workers, selection and application of PPE, methods of establishing a safe work area, arc flash and shock protection calculations, equipment labeling and worker audit procedures.


Step 2: Conduct an Electrical System Study to Determine the Present Degree of Arc Flash Hazards

This is an electrical system engineering study that is overseen by professional engineers familiar with the power distribution and control equipment and the calculation methods required.


Step 3: Ensure Adequate Supplies of PPE and Proper Tools

Employees working in areas where there are potential electrical hazards shall be provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) that is appropriate for the specific parts of the body to be protected.


Step 4: Conduct Regular Safety Training and Assessments

NFPA 70E defines a qualified person as “one who has skills and knowledge related to the construction and operation of the electrical equipment and systems, and has received safety training to recognize and avoid the hazards involved.” This training requirement means that the employee must have received safety training specific to the hazards of arc flash, arc blast, shock and electrocution.*


Step 5: Maintain All Electrical Distribution System Components

The “active” components in electrical distribution systems are comprised of fuses, circuit breakers and protective relays that help protect the system in the event of an electrical fault. These overcurrent protective devices have a critical role in controlling the arc flash energy.


Step 6: Follow Strategies to Mitigate and Control Arc Flash Hazards

This often overlooked step is one of the most crucial in optimizing the safety and performance of the power system.