The National Electric Code (NEC) isn’t the only set of rules electricians need to know. There’s also NFPA 70E: Standards for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, which is equally crucial.
The difference between these two sets of rules is simple: The NEC describes the elements, specifications and requirements of a safe electrical system. Standard 70E, meanwhile, tells us how to work with those systems safely. Along with NFPA 70B: Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance, this trio of codes ensures we can enjoy the benefits of electricity as safely as possible.
But we’re always learning more about workplace safety and electrical systems. Things change. To reflect these changes, NFPA 70E has adopted a three-year cycle for new editions. The latest version of the Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace arrived in 2018, and it introduced a number of innovations aimed at keeping electricians safe on the job.
So how different is this latest edition of NFPA 70E, compared to the previous, 2015 version? Here are some of the most important changes every electrical contractor should be aware of:
Although safety is the top priority, there’s another reason electrical contractors should stay up-to-date with the latest edition of the Standards for Electrical Safety in the Workplace: It could help you avoid costly OSHA violations.
OSHA can and will issue fines for violations of the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act of 1970, which broadly requires employers to maintain safe workplaces — even as our knowledge about occupational safety grows and changes.
Electrical contractors who follow the latest version of NFPA 70E closely won’t need to worry about OSHA fines, at least not in the context of their core electrical work. More importantly, their employees are far more likely to complete every shift safely while being prepared for the next big job.
For now, it’s best to rely on the 2018 edition of NFPA 70E — but 2021 is right around the corner.