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 Post subject: NFPA 70E 2012 effective date?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 10:39 am 
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When does NFPA 70E 2012 officially go in to effect? Is it when it's published, when you get your copy, January 1st, 2012, when the local OSHA enforcement authority reads it...?


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 2:09 pm 
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According to the 2012 Edition of NFPA 70E, it's effective date is August 31, 2011 and that it supersedes all previous additions.

Not sure about how OSHA handles this because I am sure OSHA does not specifically reference the 2012 edition.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:39 am 
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amphead wrote:
When does NFPA 70E 2012 officially go in to effect? Is it when it's published, when you get your copy, January 1st, 2012, when the local OSHA enforcement authority reads it...?


I can see you want a black and white answer. There isn't one. Best I can offer is that you should work diligently towards getting there. Every new edition of 70E seems to take about 2-3 years before everyone has fully adopted it, just as it is with NEC. So expecting OSHA knocking on your door on January 1, 2012 about the 2012 edition might be overzealous to say the least.

OSHA does not prescribe any particular electrical work practice standard, be it NFPA 70E or CSA Z462 or something else. Regardless of the dates published in the standard, it doesn't "go into effect". It's not a regulation.

What they do enforce in this case is known as the general duty clause. An employer has a general duty to provide equipment and procedures to keep their employees safe from injury, within a general concept of reasonableness.

As an employer then you have freedom to figure out how to do this. One of the best, most defensible ways to do this, is to pick an existing industry consensus safety standard and follow that. This way, you can say in your defense that you are doing it using RAGAGEP (recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices).

If you decide not to do this, then you are stuck defending both the actual situation, and your methodology for dealing with it. At least following an existing industry consensus safety standard eliminates the latter.

As to whether to follow the 2000 edition, 2004, 2009, or 2012...the real question would be whether existing, current industry consensus standards have changed in such a radical way that you can't really say that you are still following RAGAGEP or not. 2012 is not that radically different from 2009, and the industry knowledgebase has not advanced so much that everything in 2009 has been invalidated.

Let's diverge a minute and look at another industry consensus safety standard. NFPA 70, aka NEC, is treated a little differently. The NFPA committee for that document puts a date in it in which it is "in effect" as well. By itself it will affect anyone who uses it as a standard (not a regulation). For instance anyone in the mining industry is held to some things in the 1976 edition of NEC by regulation, but not the current edition. They usually adopt NEC as a safety standard even though they are clearly exempt in Article 90 for the same reasons that someone adopts NFPA 70E.

Each state in the U.S. adopts NEC as well. BUT this usually happens over a 2 year period. The reason is that every single state adopts NEC but most have a long list of edits and modifications that they apply. They do not typically adopt NEC verbatim. At the point when the state says that a particular version is in effect, that is when it goes into effect, regardless of the current edition of the Code.

In the case of the NEC, this adoption process is when it goes into regulatory effect, and will be enforced. This is quite different from enforcement of a standard.

Enforcement of standards is generally pretty loose. Since there is not a specific, detailed regulation but only a general duty clause, enforcement to the letter will not hold up in court. If an OSHA regulator ever does question electrical work practices, it is with respect to the standard in general. Every company is free to put forth their own implementation details and procedures. Questioning a particular implementation gets into a sticky morass of meanings, intents, and engineering standards as to what is in the spirit of the standard vs. what is actually written in the standard.

This status as a safety standard vs. a regulation also shows up in NFPA 70E itself. The Committee is free to throw out new ideas and concepts, and do some things with a broad brushed approach, without triggering a pile litigation to ensue over what they meant. If it were a regulatory requirement anywhere, among other things, the infamous task tables would probably have to be outright deleted because they are full of controversy and contradictory information.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 5:43 pm 
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I appreciate this post. Thank you for a concise interpretation of regulation vs. guidance. I am using this within my company and completely agree. I wish it were more black and white, but this is a good way to present things as well.


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