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NFPA 70E – 2015 Edition – Update of Changes

NFPA 70E – Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, was first published in 1979 and consisted of only one part, The 2015 Edition marks the tenth edition to NFPA 70E and with it, many sweeping changes. This article provides a review of the major changes to the latest edition of this important electrical safety standard.

What’s New?

Some of the terminology used during this revision cycle some was changed. What used to be referred to as Request for Proposals is now called Public Input (PI) and this revision cycle had 448 PI(s). The Report on Proposals (ROP) is now called the “First Draft” and the what was previously referred to as the Report on Comments (ROC) is referred to as the Second Draft.

The changes outlined in this article were based on what was known at the time the article was written. It does not include every change and much of the language is paraphrased due to space limitations. Since the final document has not yet been formally approved by the NFPA Standards Council there is always the possibility of additional changes between the time this article is written and when the standard is published. Therefore, the reader must always refer to the final approved version when it is published.

Global ChangesSeveral terms used throughout NFPA 70E have been changed for the 2015 Edition. The list below shows the major changes in terms with the 2012 edition term and the new corresponding term for 2015.

  • 2012 harm
    2015 injury or damage to health
  • 2012 work shoes
    2015 footwear
  • 2012 arc flash hazard analysis
    2015 arc flash risk assessment
  • 2012 shock hazard analysis
    2015 shock risk assessment
  • 2012 electrical hazard analysis
    2015 electrical hazard risk assessment
  • 2012 hazard/risk category
    2015 arc flash PPE category
  • 2012 hazard identification and risk assessment
    2015 risk assessment
  • 2012 probability
    2015 likelihood

In addition, all references to hazard/risk category (HRC) have been deleted throughout the 2015 Edition of the Standard.

Article 90 Introduction

90.2 Scope
90.2(A) Covered. The words “safety-related maintenance requirements, and other administrative controls” have been added to what is covered to emphasize the importance of maintenance.

90.2(B) Not Covered
The reference to “Installations underground in mines and self-propelled mobile surface mining machinery and its attendant electrical trailing cable” has been deleted from the not covered section meaning it is now covered.

Article 100 Definitions

Deleted Definitions

Bare-Hand Work – has been deleted.

Prohibited Approach Boundary – has been deleted. Once the restricted approach boundary was crossed, there were really no other requirements. All references to the prohibited approach boundary have been deleted throughout the 2015 Edition.

Revised Definitions

Restricted Approach Boundary – The word “risk” has been replaced by “likelihood”

Incident Energy – now references “thermal” energy instead of just energy.

Qualified Person – changed from “one who has the skills and knowledge” to “one who has demonstrated the skills and knowledge” Also the word recognize has been changed to identify “to identify and avoid the hazards”.

New Definitions

Hazard – A source of possible injury or damage to health.

Hazardous – Involving exposure to at least one hazard

Risk – refers to a combination of both the likelihood of occurrence of the injury and the severity.

Risk Assessment – An overall process that identifies the hazards, estimates the potential severity of injury or damage to health and estimates the likelihood of the occurrence of injury or damage to health and determines if protective measures are required.

Article 110 General Requirements for Electrical Safety-Related Work Practices

This article was reorganized by moving section 110.3 Electrical Safety Program to 110.1 and moving 110.1 Relationships with Contractors (renamed Host and Contract Employers Responsibilities) to Section 110.3

The order is now:
110.1 Electrical Safety Program, 110.2 Training Requirements, 110.3 Host and Contract Employers Responsibilities

110.1 Electrical Safety Program

110.1(A) General The language “activity appropriate for the electrical hazards” has been changed to “activity appropriate to the risk associated with electrical hazards”.

110.1 (B) Maintenance This new addition states that: “The electrical safety program shall include elements that consider condition of maintenance of electrical equipment and systems.” (The addition of this new section requires that subsequent sections are renumbered)

110.1(F) Electrical Safety Program Procedures. The reference to both the limited approach boundary and arc flash boundary was deleted. New language emphasizes that “An electrical safety program shall identify the procedures to be utilized before work is started by employees exposed to an electrical hazard.”

110.1(G) Risk Assessment Procedure. The title was changed to align with the emphasis on risk assessment. The reference to limited approach boundary and arc flash boundary was deleted.

110.2 Training Requirements

110.2 (A) Safety Training – new language was added “when the risk associated with that hazard is not reduced to a safe level” to emphasize the element of risk.

110.2 (C) Emergency Response Training
This section was renamed and subdivided into four parts, 1 through 4.

(1) Contact Release This section now requires annual refresher training.

(2) First Aid, Emergency Response and Resuscitation. New language now requires annual refresher training for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED). This is a change from the existing language that required annual certification by the employer.

(3) Training Verification – New language requires that “Employers shall verify at least annually that employee training required by this section is current.”

(4) Documentation – “The employer shall document that the training required by this section has occurred.”

110.2(D)(1) Qualified Person

110.2 (D)(1)(b)(4) The decision making process was converted to a list of four items which include:

“i) Perform the job safety planning ii) Identify electrical hazards iii) Assess the associated risk iv) Select the appropriate risk control methods from the hierarchy of controls identified in 110.1(G) including selecting the personal protective equipment”

110.2 (D)(1)(e)
The term “voltage detector” was replaced with “test instrument”

110.2 (E) Training Documentation.

Informational Note No. 1. A new informational note was added stating that the content of the training could be one or more of the following: the course syllabus, course curriculum outline, table of contents or training objectives.

110.3 Host and Contract Employers’ Responsibilities
The title of this section was changed from Relationships with Contractors

(C) Documentation
New text was added to this section “Where the host employer has knowledge of hazards covered by this standard that are related to the contract employer’s work,” there shall be a documented meeting between the host employer and the contract employer

110.4(C) Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter(GFCI) Protection

(2) Maintenance and Construction
This new section requires that “GFCI protection shall be provided for operating or using cord and plug connected tools related to maintenance and construction activity supplied by 125 volt, 15, 20, or 30 ampere circuits. Where employees operate or use equipment supplied by greater than 125 volt, 15, 20, or 30 ampere circuits either GFCI protection or an assured equipment grounding conductor program shall be implemented.”

Article 120 Establishing an Electrically Safe Work Condition

120.1 Verification of an Electrically Safe Work Condition
The title was changed from “Process of Achieving an Electrically Safe Work Condition”.

(5) The term “rated voltage detector” was changed to “rated test instrument” and “through verification on a known voltage source” was added to verify the test instrument is operating satisfactorily.

120.2(B) Principles of Lockout/Tagout Execution.

120.2(B)(3) Retraining. Retraining shall be at intervals not exceeding 3 years has been added to the existing language that also requires retraining when the procedure is revised.

120.2(B)(4) Training Documentation. This new addition requires documentation when each employee receives training required by this section. The documentation shall be made when the employee demonstrates proficiency in work practices involved and the documentation shall contain the content of the training, the employee’s name, dates of the training.

120.2(E)(4)(e) Additional language was added regarding hold cards. Now a method of accounting for personnel who are working under the protection of the hold card must be included.

120.3(A) Temporary Protective Grounding Equipment. New text was added to this section stating that the location, sizing, and application of temporary protective grounding equipment shall be identified as part of the employer’s job planning.

Article 130 Work Involving Electrical Hazards

130.1 General. New language has been added that clarifies what Article 130 covers. This includes:

(1) When an electrically safe work condition must be established

(2) The electrical safety-related work practices when an electrically safe work condition cannot be established

130.2(A)(4) Normal Operation
The word “interaction” can still cause some confusion regarding work practices. This new section states that normal operation of electric equipment shall be permitted where all of the following conditions regarding the equipment are satisfied:

1. The equipment is properly installed
2. The equipment is properly maintained
3. All equipment doors are closed and secured
4. All equipment covers are in place and secured
5. There is no evidence of impending failure

130.2(B) Energized Electrical Work Permit

130.2(B)(1) When Required
References to the limited approach and arc flash boundaries have been deleted and the new language now states that “When energized work is permitted in accordance with 130.2(A) an energized electrical work permit (EEWP) is required under the following conditions:

(1) When work is performed within the restricted approach boundary or
(2) When the employee interacts with the equipment when conductors or circuit parts are not exposed but an increased likelihood of injury from an exposure to an arc flash exists.”

130.2(B)(2) Elements of Work Permit
This section now requires the results of the shock risk assessment rather than shock hazard analysis and also must include the voltage to which personnel will be exposed. The arc flash hazard analysis was changed to arc flash risk assessment and the working distance must now be included if the incident energy is provided.

130.2(B)(3) Exemptions to Work Permit
This section was reworded and includes the following exceptions –
· Testing trouble shooting and voltage measuring
· Thermography and visual inspection if the restricted approach boundary (RAB) is not crossed
· Access/egress from an area with energized electrical equipment with no electrical work and the RAB is not crossed
· General housekeeping and miscellaneous non-electrical tasks if the RAB is not crossed.

130.4(A) Shock Risk Assessment
The title was changed from Shock Hazard Analysis

Table 130.4(C)(a) Approach Boundaries to Energized Electrical Conductors
The restricted approach boundary was deleted from the table. The second row was changed from 50 V – 300V to 50 V – 150V and the third row was changed from 301 V – 750 V to 151 V – 750 V.

130.5 Arc Flash Risk Assessment
The title was changed from Arc Flash Hazard Analysis to Arc Flash Risk Assessment. The arc flash hazard risk assessment shall:
Determine if the arc flash hazard exists. If it does, then the risk assessment shall determine the appropriate safety related work practices, the arc flash boundary and the PPE to be used within the arc flash boundary.

Informational Note 1
New language was added to this Informational Note that states: “Where equipment is not properly installed or properly maintained, PPE selection base upon incident energy analysis or the PPE category method may not provide adequate protection from arc flash hazards.”

130.5(A) Documentation – This new section requires the results of the arc flash risk assessment to be documented.

130.5(B) Arc Flash Boundary – In addition to the existing definition of the arc flash boundary being the distance where the incident energy equals 1.2 cal/cm2, new language has been added permitting the arc flash boundary to be determined by Table 130.7(C)(15)(A)(b) or Table 130.7(C)(15)(B) when the requirements of the tables apply.

130.5(C) Arc Flash PPE
New text emphasizes that only one method shall be used for selecting personal protective equipment (PPE) at the same piece of equipment. These methods include either the results of an incident energy analysis or the arc flash PPE category method but not both.

Language was also added to specifically prohibit using the results of an incident energy analysis to specify an arc flash PPE category in Table 130.7(C)(16)

130.5 (D) Equipment Labeling
The arc flash labeling requirements still include the nominal system voltage and arc flash boundary as in the past. However new language further clarifies how to label the PPE requirements.
The revised language states: At least one of the following:
· Either the available incident energy with the corresponding working distance or the arc flash PPE category in Table 130.7(C)(15)(A)(b) or Table 130.7(C)(15)(B) be listed but not both.
· Minimum arc rating of clothing
· Site specific level of PPE

This section now specifies that the owner of the electrical equipment is responsible for the documentation, installation and maintenance of the field marked label.

130.7(C)(15) Selection of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) When Required for Various Tasks

Table 130.7(C)(15)(A)(a) Arc Flash Hazard Identification for Alternating Current (ac) and Direct Current (dc) Systems.
This new table is used for determining when arc flash PPE is required for both ac and dc electrical systems. The tables use a simple yes or no if arc flash PPE is required and is based on the task to be performed and the equipment condition. Equipment condition parameters include whether the equipment is properly installed, properly maintained, all equipment doors are closed and secured, covers are in place and secured, and there is no evidence of impending failure.

New PPE Category Tables – General Comment
New tables have been developed based on the PPE category. The Hazard/Risk references have been deleted. Category 0 and the columns for rubber gloves and insulated tools have been deleted. Some of the arc flash boundaries have been rounded to the nearest foot.

Table 130.7(C)(15)(A)(b) – Arc Flash Hazard PPE Categories for Alternating Current (ac) Systems. This new table defines the PPE categories for ac systems. Specific tasks have been deleted and the table now lists equipment, arc flash PPE category and the arc flash boundary.

Table 130.7(C)(15)(B) – Arc Flash Hazard PPE Categories for Direct Current (dc) Systems. This table defines the PPE categories for dc systems. Specific tasks have been deleted and the table now lists equipment, arc flash PPE category and the arc flash boundary.

130.7(D)(1) Insulated Tools and Equipment – This section now references the restricted approach boundary instead of the limited approach boundary and applies when working inside the restricted approach boundary of exposed energized electrical conductors or circuit parts where tools or handling equipment might make accidental contact.

130.7(E)(2) Barricades – The arc flash boundary is now included in this section. Barricades shall be placed at the greater of the limited approach boundary or the arc flash boundary.

Chapter 2 Safety Related Maintenance Requirements

Article 200 Introduction

200.1 Scope – Informational Note 3 now references IEEE 3007.2 IEEE Recommended Practice for the Maintenance of Industrial and Commercial Power Systems.

205.3 General Maintenance Requirements This section was greatly expanded and includes new language stating the “The equipment owner or the owner’s designated representative shall be responsible for maintenance of the electrical equipment and documentation.”

A new informational note regarding text and calibration labels was added that states: “Common industry practice is to apply test or calibration decals to equipment to indicate the test or calibration date and overall condition of equipment that has been tested and maintained in the field. These decals provide the employee immediate indication of last maintenance date and if the tested device or system was found acceptable on the date of test. This local information can assist the employee in the assessment of overall electrical equipment maintenance status.”

Seems like a familiar theme.  Every three years, NFPA 70E is new, bigger and better.  The 2015 Edition will be the tenth time NFPA 70E has been published since it was first introduced in 1979. Each new Edition continues to evolve in order to continually improve electrical safety in the workplace.

By Jim Phillips | Brainfiller, Inc. |
Originally Published: January 2012 | Electrical Contractor Magazine