Each year thousands of workers are injured by electrical hazards. Many of these incidents could have been prevented through compliance with the latest safety codes and standards.
As a resource, the NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®, has been helping companies and employees reduce exposure to risks and reduce occupational injuries and fatalities. It was created to meet the needs of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and is entirely consistent with the NEC and other applicable publications.
Like many industries, the electrical industry is always changing. And, you need to stay current on the information that prepares you for the challenges of the modern electrical workplace. The 2021 Edition of NFPA 70E has extensive changes and updates. Review them below and learn how to start applying these changes to your work environment.
NFPA 70E 2021 Changes & Updates
Article 100 Definitions
The word “hood” and “sock” were removed and the definition was changed to: “An arc-rated head-protective fabric that protects the neck and head except for a small portion of the facial area.”
Electrically Safe Work Condition:
An electrically safe work condition is not a procedure, it is a state wherein all hazardous electrical conductors or circuit parts to which a worker might be exposed are maintained in a de-energized state for the purpose of temporarily eliminating electrical hazards for the period of time for which the state is maintained.”
Equipment, Arc Resistant:
The word “switchgear” was removed and replace with Arc-resistant equipment. An informational note was added referencing IEEE C37.20.7, Guide for Testing Switchgear Rated Up to 52 kV for Internal Arcing Faults (see O.2.4(9) for information on other types of equipment.
Voltage, Nominal: Informational Note No. 3 was added:
“Certain battery units are rated at nominal 48 volts DC but have a charging float voltage up to 58 volts. In DC applications, 60 volts is used to cover the entire range of float voltages.” This change would require energized electrical conductors and circuit parts to be put in an electrical safe work condition before an employee performs any work on battery units.
Available Fault Current: Information Note No 3 was added:
The available fault current varies at different locations within the system due to the location of sources and system impedances.
Article 110 General Requirements for Electrical Safety-Related Work Practices
Article 110.1 has been re-organized, re-named and expanded, with addition of 12 new articles added. The Importance to put electrical equipment in an “Electrical Safe Work Condition “is very clear, in fact it is a priority.
A new Informational Note 2 was added: “An electrically safe work condition is a state wherein all hazardous electrical conductors or circuit parts to which a worker might be exposed are placed and maintained in a de-energized state, for the purpose of temporarily eliminating electrical hazards. See Article 120 for requirements to establish an electrically safe work condition for the period of time which the state is maintained. See Informative Annex F for information regarding the hierarchy of risk control and hazard elimination.”
Elements of a Risk Assessment Procedure: Article 110.5 (I)
Information Notes 1 & 2 have been added to give some usable examples of what should be looked for in a risk assessment procedure.
Informational note No 1: The risk assessment procedure could include identifying when a second person could be required and the training and equipment that person should have.
Informational note No 2: For more information regarding risk assessment and the hierarchy of risk control see, informative Annex F
Job Safety Planning: Article 110.1(l)(1)
An informational note was added referencing an example of a job safety planning check list in Informative Annex I. This will be very helpful to many qualified workers and safety representatives. The checklist is 2 pages long and provides all the necessary steps that need to be taken to satisfy NFPA 70E requirements.
Electrical Safety Program: Article 110.5 (K)
This new sub-section states: “An electrical safety program shall include an electrically safe work condition policy that complies with 110.3.” If your electrical safety does not have a safe work condition policy that complies with Article 110.3 Electrically Safe Work Condition, this would be the time to add it.
Electrical Safety Program: Article 110.5 (L)
An electrical safety program shall include a LOTO program or it must reference to the employers LOTO program.
Additional Training and Retraining: Article 110.6(A)(3)
The words “Additional Training” were added to the title of retraining, since both types of training are addressed in this section. What’s the difference between additional training and retraining? Addition training would apply to new employees and employees that have changed or started a new position within their company. Retraining would apply to employee’s that need to be updated on new requirements and refreshed on existing safety procedures and policies.
Type of Training: Article 110.6(A)(4)
The existing informational note was changed to: “Classroom training can now include interactive electronic or interactive web-based training components.” The key word here is interactive.
Documentation: Article 110.7(C)
An informational note was added: “On multi-employer work sites (in all industry sectors), more than one employer can be responsible for identifying hazardous conditions and creating safe work practices.” A documented meeting must take place in these situations between the host employer and the contract employer.
Article 120 Establishing an Electrically Safe Work Condition
Lockout/Tagout Procedure: Article 120.2(B)
Wording was changed to make ensure that your company’s LOTO procedure meets the requirements of applicable codes, standards, and regulations for lockout and tagging of electrical sources.
Lockout Device: article 120.3(C)
To align with OSHA 1910.333(b)(2)(iii)(E), the following text was added to the requirements:
(a) Only one circuit or piece of equipment is de-energized.
(b) The lockout period does not extend beyond the work shift.
(c) Employees exposed to the hazards associated with re-energizing the circuit or equipment are familiar with this procedure.”
Stored Energy: Article 120.4(B)(2)
A new informational note was added: “For more information on methods and procedures to place capacitors in an electrically safe work condition, see 360.3, 360.5, and Informative Annex R, Working with Capacitors. Article 360 is new and has a lot of information on capacitor safety.
Process for Establishing and Verifying an Electrically Safe Work Condition: Article120.5
An additional step was added to the process: “Block or relieve stored non-electrical energy devices that could re-energize electric circuit parts to the extent that the circuit parts could not be accidentally energized by the device.”
Revised information notes 1 thru 7 give exceptions to the “verification part”. Test equipment is now available that can be used to verify that “no voltage is present”. These “absence of voltage testers” can be permanently mounted on equipment or hand help. Testers must meet UL1436 standards for ratings and design.
Article 130 Work Involving Electrical Hazards
Clarification was added to the shock risk assessment Article 130.4, step 2, where you must “estimate the likelihood and severity of occurrence of an injury.
Estimate of Likelihood and Severity: Article 130.4 (B)
The estimate of likelihood of occurrence of injury or damage to health and the potential severity of injury or damage to health shall take into consideration all of the following:
(1) The design of the electrical equipment
(2) The electrical equipment operating condition and the condition of maintenance.
Estimate of the Likelihood of Occurrence of an Arc Flash Incident for AC and DC Systems: Table 130.5(C)
Listed under the task section of table 130.5(C):
The operation of a CB (circuit breaker) or switch for the first time, after installation or when equipment maintenance is completed is now considered a potential arc flash hazard. This is a significant change that “qualified workers” must follow.
Selection of Arc-Rated Clothing: Table 130.5(G)
A new informational note (d) was added below table 130.5(G):
Two significant changes were made to footwear and outerwear:
Footwear other than leather or dielectric shall be permitted to be used provided it has been tested to demonstrate no ignition, melting, or dripping at the estimated incident energy exposure. This will allow a new market of arc rated shoes to be available to use.
The arc rating of outer layers worn over arc-rated clothing as protection from the elements or for other safety purposes, and that are not used as part of a layered system, shall not be required to be equal to or greater than the estimated incident energy exposure.” What this means is that (low arc rating) rain wear/coats and hi-visibility safety vests can now be worn over any level arc rated clothing or arc rated suit.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Article130.7(C)(1)
An informational note was added regarding examples of risk-reduction methods that could be used when testing for absence of voltage when the estimated incident energy exposure is greater than the arc rating of commercially available arc-rated PPE.
This new information note was added to help qualified workers deal with the problem of “testing for the absence of voltage” when the incident energy of the equipment is above 40cal/cm2 ex:(Danger Labels)
Four examples of risk-reduction methods that could be used to reduce the likelihood of occurrence of an arc flash.
- Use a noncontact proximity test instrument or measurement of voltage on the secondary side of a low voltage transformer (VT) mounted in the equipment before using a contact test instrument to test for the absence of voltage below 1000 volts.
- If equipment design allows, observe visible air gaps between equipment conductors and circuit parts and the electrical source of supply.
- Increase the working distance
- Consider system design options to reduce the incident energy level. Ex: current limiting devices
Personal Protective Equipment: Table 130.7(C)(15) (c)
Information note(d) was added to reassure to the qualified worker that rubber insulting gloves with leather protectors provide arc flash protection in addition to shock protection.
Cutting, Removing, or Rerouting of conductors: Article 130.12
Changes were made to the Information note: Additional steps shall be taken where conductors are de-energized in order to cut, remove, or reroute them including, but not limited to remotely spiking the conductors, pulling conductors to visually verify movement, remotely cutting the conductors, or other approved methods.
Safety-Related Requirements for Capacitors: Article 360
This new article contains six sections and covers electrical safety-related requirements while working with capacitors:
- 360.1 Scope
- 360.2 Definitions
- 360.3 Stored Energy Hazard Thresholds
- 360.4 Specific Measures for Personnel Safety
- 360.5 Establishing an Electrically Safe Work Condition for a Capacitor(s)
- 360.6 Grounding Sticks
Also, a new Annex R section was added for more information on working with capacitors.
Incident Energy and Arc Flash Boundary Calculation Methods: Annex D
Informational Annex D.4 IEEE 1584-2018 Calculation Method: This was updated to provide an overview of the new 2018 edition of IEEE 1584.
Risk Assessment and Risk Control: Annex F
A new Informative Figure F.7 was added “Assessing Hazards Associated with Work on Batteries”:
This flow chart provides guidance for qualified battery workers on how to assess the hazards associated with working on batteries and when arc flash PPE is required.
Assessing if Arc Flash PPE is required:
- System voltage is 100volts or more
- Terminals are less than 6 feet apart
- Battery cannot be segmented in sections
- An arc flash risk assessment must be completed by a qualified engineer prior to any work.