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What is the NFPA 70E Standard?

April 26, 2023287 ViewsGloves8

NFPA 70E is a standard of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) that addresses electrical safety requirements for employees in the workplace and details how to protect workers from the heat of electric arc exposures. The purpose of the standard is to provide a practical safe working area for employees relative to the hazards arising from the use of electricity. Specifically, the standard addresses safety of workers whose job responsibilities entail interaction with electrical equipment and systems with potential exposure to energized electrical equipment and circuit parts.

This standard addresses the safeguarding of employees from the hazards associated with electrical energy during activities such as the installation, inspection, operation, maintenance, and demolition of electric conductors, electric equipment and assists in complying with OSHA 1910 Subpart S and OSHA 1926 Subpart K.

It is important to note that NFPA 70E is a voluntary national consensus safety standard published by NFPA primarily to assist OSHA in preparing its electrical safety standards. Federal OSHA has not incorporated NFPA 70E into the Code of Federal Regulations.

NFPA 70E describes how to protect electrical workers from three kinds of electrical hazards:

4-Step Safety Strateg

NFPA 70E outlines a four-step approach to electrical safety:

  1. TURN OFF THE POWER. Work de-energized, whenever possible. However, since this isn’t always feasible, when working on or near exposed live conductors and parts, NFPA 70E requires the following:
  2. LIVE WORK PERMIT. Have the customer sign an Energized Electrical Work Permit.
  3. PLAN THE WORK. Have a written plan for performing the live work safely.
  4. USE PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE). This includes flame-resistant (FR) clothing, insulated tools, face shields, and flash suits.

Incident Energy

NFPA 70E requires that the employer shall document the incident energy exposure of the worker when it has been determined that the worker will be performing tasks within the flash protection boundary.  Incident energy is the amount of thermal energy impressed on a surface, a certain distance from the source, generated during an electrical arc event. Incident energy is expressed in calories per square centimeter (cal/cm2).

4 PPE Categories

NFPA 70E includes four PPE categories.  Each category has a minimum arc rating for protective clothing:

PPE CategoryRatingProtective ClothingMinimum Incident Energy Level
1ARC 1FR long sleeve shirtFR pantsFR coverallsHead protectionFoot protectionEye protectionArc flash rated gloves4 cal/cm2
2ARC 2T-shirtFR long sleeve shirtFR pantsFR coverallsFace shieldCotton underwearFoot protectionEye protectionArc flash rated glovesHearing protection8 cal/cm2
3ARC 3T-shirtFR long sleeve shirtFR pantsFR coverallsFlash hoodCotton underwearFoot protectionEye protectionArc flash rated glovesHearing protection25 cal/cm2
4ARC 4T-shirtFR long sleeve shirtFR pantsFR coverallsFlash hoodCotton underwearFoot protectionEye protectionArc flash rated glovesHearing protection40 cal/cm2

What type of electrical work is not covered under NFPA 70E?

NFPA 70E does not address safe work practices specific to installation, maintenance and operation of utility transmission and distribution systems. There are some facilities and installations under utility control in which application of NFPA 70E may be appropriate. Examples include office buildings, warehouses, garages and maintenance shops.

NFPA 70E-2021

The 2021 edition continues to focus on risk assessment and emphasize the need to follow the hierarchy of risk controls to eliminate and reduce the potential hazards.

Most notable changes to the 2021 edition include:

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