Article Originally Featured in Occupational Health & Safety
Author: Colin Duncan, SEAM Group CEO
Employers should focus on training their employees regularly to ensure safety.
Since NFPA 70E was issued in 2000, employers began to put more emphasis on adhering to the requirements of the 70E standard. However, many are still wondering, “Where do we start?” Many organizations struggle with how to ensure they truly have qualified workers. Many don’t know the real difference between a “qualified” and “unqualified” worker. Here are a few quick tips on how to establish a qualified worker program and what you can do to keep it going.
Qualified Person Defined
The term “qualified person,” is defined in the 2015 edition of NFPA 70E as, “one who has demonstrated skill and knowledge related to the construction and operation of electrical equipment and installations and has received safety training to identify and avoid the hazards involved.” This revised definition aligns with the one used by OSHA.
A qualified person must be trained in methods of safe release and special precautionary techniques per 2021 NFPA 70E Article 110.6(C)(1). A qualified person must also be able to demonstrate the ability to use a test instrument to verify the absence of voltage under 2021 NFPA 70E Article 110.8 (E). Simply put, a qualified worker is someone who is trained and knowledgeable about the tasks he/she will be performing. He/she must be able to identify and protect themselves from all the hazards associated with the task and be able to demonstrate his/her proficiency. Your emphasis should be on training.
Workers must be trained to have, not only the skills, but also the safety practices and personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect themselves on the job. Just because your electrician has been doing the trade for the past 30 years, doesn’t mean he/she is necessarily trained or qualified. Perhaps, they have just been lucky.