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August 29 – 30, 2023
September 26 – 27, 2023
By Jim Phillips, Jr.
It is hard to imagine that three years have gone by since the 2021 Edition of NFPA 70E Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace was published. An “interesting” three years that required the NFPA 70E technical committee to hold the First Draft meeting virtually.
To borrow and modify a phrase from US Post Office, Neither snow nor rain nor pandemic shall stop the NFPA 70E Technical Committee from completion of the 2024 Edition.
The NFPA technical committee is a very dedicated group of people that I have the honor to work with. The first edition of NFPA 70E was published in 1979. This is the thirteenth edition.
Although the number 13 is considered unlucky by some (ever notice that elevators do not show a 13th floor and airplanes do not have a row 13?) the 2024 edition is anything but unlucky as it will continue to play an important role by providing requirements for electrical safety in the workplace. This can lead to reducing injuries and fatalities from the hazards of electricity.
The thirteenth edition is based on:
This article provides an overview of the more significant changes and does not include every change. I had to paraphrase some of the language. The reader should always refer to the published version of the 2024 Edition which can be viewed for free after creating an account at: https://link.nfpa.org/free-access/publications/70E/2024
The reader is encouraged to purchase a copy at: https://catalog.nfpa.org/NFPA-70E-Standard-for-Electrical-Safety-in-the-Workplace-P1197.aspx
There are several global changes made that can be seen throughout entire standard.
Electric Shock The word “electric” is placed before “shock” to help ensure consistent use of the term. “Hearing protection boundary” and “lung protection boundary” are exceptions where the term “shock” refers to “shock wave” not electric shock.
Protectors The word “leather” was deleted to permit the use of protectors other than leather.
Scope Each article now contains a scope located in ABC.1 of each article. The addition of a scope led to the need to renumber some sections.
Definitions All definitions are now located in Article 100 whereas in the past, some definitions were located in a specific article.
With the required addition of scope as 90.1, sections renumbered. 90.3 Workplaces Covered and Not Covered is the new title of this section to better reflect the provisions contained in this section.
90.5(C) Explanatory Material New language was added that unless a referenced standard includes a date, then the reference is considered to be the latest edition of the standard.
Article 100 Definitions
Scope. The scope was revised to explain where an article number in parenthesis follows a definition, it applies only in that article. As an example: Battery Effect (310) only applies to Article 310. Previously, some definitions appeared in the specific article rather than Article 100.
Electronic Searching The definition title structure has been updated. Several definitions now include the term as it appears in the standard in parenthesis to assist with electronic searching. For example: Boundary, Arc Flash now includes (Arc Flash Boundary) following it.
Protector This new definition is: “A glove or mitten to be worn over rubber insulating gloves.” This definition is revised for clarity since the term leather or nonleather is overly broad.
Radiation, Ionizing and Radiation, Nonionizing new definitions are added for these two terms.
Article 110 General Requirements for Electrical Safety-Related Work Practices
110.1 Scope This new scope states: “This article covers the general requirements for electrical safety-related work practices.”
110.2 Electrically Safe Work Condition 110.2 contains several changes and 110.3 and 110.4 have been consolidated into 110.2
110.2(A) Policy This was changed from “Priority” and the text revised to: “An employer shall establish, document, and implement an electrically safe work condition policy that does both of the following:”
110.2(A)(1) “Requires hazard elimination to be the first priority in the implementation of safety-related work practices.” This was relocated from 110.1.
110.2(A)(2) A new Informational Note 4 was added: “The electrically safe work condition policy could be documented in the employer’s electrical safety program or in the employer’s management system or similar documentation.”
110.2(B) When Required Exception No. 1 “Normal operation of electric equipment” was changed from “Normal Operating Condition” to emphasize electric equipment. In addition to the existing six conditions such as: the equipment is properly installed, maintained etc. a seventh condition has been added. “The equipment is rated for the available fault current.”
Informational Note 2 was added to item (7) There is no evidence of impending failure. The new note references NEMA GD 1-2019 Evaluating Water-Damaged Electrical Equipment which includes guidelines and safety related information for electrical equipment that has been exposed to water.
110.2(B) Exception No. 2 This new exception permits the operation of an energized disconnecting means or isolating element to achieve an electrically safe work condition (ESWC) or to return equipment to service that has been placed in an ESWC. The equipment supplying the disconnecting means or isolating element shall not be required to be placed in an ESWC provided a risk assessment is performed and there is no unacceptable risk identified.
110.2(B) Exception No. 5 Equipment operating at less than 50 volts was expanded to “consider the capacity of the source and any overcurrent protection between the energy source and the worker are considered and it is determined there will be no increased exposure to electrical burns or to explosion due to electric arcs.”
110.3 Job Safety Planning. A new item “f. An emergency response plan” was added to the list of required information for the job safety planning .
110.4(A)(1) Qualifed Person The word “special” was changed to “applicable” to make it clear that qualified persons need only be familiar with techniques they need to use. (b) A person “shall” be qualified for certain equipment and tasks to be performed. The word “can” was changed to “shall”, to address use of the mandatory language.
Article 120 Establishing an Electrically Safe Work Condition
120.5 (A)(1) Locating Sources A new informational note was added which states: “Locating sources of supply could include identifying situations where a neutral conductor continues to carry current after phase conductors have been de-energized.” This note addresses a potentially hazardous condition that may be overlooked.
120.5 (B)(2) Stored Energy Since mechanical energy involves more than springs, additional text “to the extent that the circuit cannot be unintentionally energized.” Was added. The complete text now states: “Other sources of stored energy shall be blocked or otherwise relieved to the extent that the circuit cannot be unintentionally energized.”
120.6 Process for Establishing and Verifying an Electrically Safe Work Condition
This was renumbered from 120.5 and Item 7 in the list contains additional text regarding: “test each phase conductor or circuit part at each point of work.” Each point of work was added.
Article 130 Work Involving Electrical Hazards
130.4(E) Electric Shock Protection Boundaries Tables 130.4(E)(a) for AC and 130.4(E)(b) for DC are modified. The restricted approach boundaries in Table 130.4(E)(a) were revised to correlate with OSHA’s minimum approach distances in OSHA 29 CFR 1910.269 Tables. Minor modifications were made to the values in Column 2 of both the AC and DC tables to address rounding error. Modifications were also made to Annex C.2.1
A new Note d was added to both the AC and DC tables regarding elevation. The note states: “The restricted approach boundary in Column 4 is based on an elevation not exceeding 900 meters (3000 feet). For higher elevations, adjustment of the restricted approach boundary shall be considered.”
130.5 Arc Flash Risk Assessment
(B) Estimate of Likelihood and Severity Informational Note 2 of 130.7(C)(15)(b) Direct Current (dc) Equipment was relocated to this section. This note addresses the situation where closed doors do not provide enough protection to eliminate the need for PPE… This note is considered applicable to all arc flash risk assessments not just dc which is the reason for the relocation.
Comment: Arc flash tests (some that I have conducted) indicate that doors may not contain all of the energy and may blow open during an arc flash unless the equipment is arc resistant.
Table 130.5(C) Estimate the likelihood of an Arc Flash Incident
This table is used to determine the likelihood of occurrence of an arc flash based on specific equipment and conditions. The column labeled Equipment Condition has been changed to Operating Condition to correlate with the requirements for Normal Operating Condition in 110.4(D).
130.5 (G) Incident Energy Analysis Method. When there are major changes to an electrical system, it could affect the results of the analysis. A new informational note was added to provide examples of changes that could be made by electric utility or other entities. This includes changes such as transformer sizes, modifications to protective devices or protective device setting.
Comment: Changes to the transformer size could affect the fault current which could also affect the speed of operation of a protective device.
130.5 (H) Equipment Labeling In addition to the existing labeling requirements of the arc flash boundary, voltage and method to define the PPE requirements, this new addition requires the label shall be of sufficient durability for the environment involved. It can be difficult to read a label that is worn and faded.
130.7(C) Personal Protective Equipment (1) General Informational Note 1 The 2021 edition of NFPA 70E introduced risk reduction methods that can be used when the prospective incident energy exposure exceeds the arc rating of commercially available PPE when testing for absence of voltage. The text was revised to: “noncontact capacitive test instrument(s) or a permanently installed metering device(s)”. Also, the 1000 volt limitation was removed since risk reduction may include systems operating below 1000 volts.
130.7(C) Personal Protective Equipment (5) Hearing Protection The word “working” was deleted. Previously the text was “whenever working within the arc flash boundary.”
Being within the arc flash boundary can be a hazard regardless of whether a person is working inside the boundary.
Comment: The latest IEEE 1584 research indicates the sound pressure can exceed 140 db.
130.7(C)(7)(a) Maximum Use Voltage for Rubber Insulating Gloves The word gauntlet was replaced with “minimum distance between the protective cuff and rubber insulating glove cuff.”
Comment: The word gauntlet was not widely understood.
Table 130.7(C)(15)(b) Arc Flash PPE Categories for dc Systems. A major revision was made. The upper part of the table was deleted that was for voltages from 100 to 250 volts dc. The new parameters for the table and arc flash PPE categories are greater than 150 volts and < 600 volts.
Comment: Recent test data indicates the probability of sustaining an arc for 125 Vdc nominal systems is minimal for fault currents less than 17,000 amps.
130.8(M) Reclosing Circuits After Protective Operation A reference to “qualified person” was added and the word “repetitive” was removed which could be interpreted as an allowance to reenergize at least once before determining the cause. “shall not be manually re-energized until a qualified person or persons determines the equipment and circuit can be safely energized.” The reference to a device operation caused by an overload was moved to an exception.
320.3(A)(1) Safety Related Requirements Related to Batteries and Battery Room. Electrical Hazard Thresholds. A new thermal threshold was added of 1000 watts of short-circuit power.
330.3(1) Safety-Related Work Practices: Lasers. Electrical Hazard Thresholds. This section was renamed, revised and consolidates (A) Voltage and Current and (B) Stored Energy. The hazard thresholds for capacitor stored energy values were revised to less than 100 volts and greater than 100 joules of stored energy and greater than or equal to 100 volts and greater than 1.0 joule of stored energy. It was previously 1 joule at greater than 100 volts up to 400 volts and 0.25 joules at 400 volts or greater.
NEW Informative Annex S – Assessing the Condition of Maintenance. A new informative annex provides nonmandatory guidance to assist qualified workers identify sources of information that are useful when assessing the condition of maintenance of electrical equipment. The sections of this new annex include:
S.2 Assess the Risk
S.3 Visual Inspection
S.4 Periodic Testing and Inspection
S.5 Permanently Installed Monitoring
S.6 Predictive Techniques
S.7 Maintenance History
S.8 Standard for Electrical Equipment Maintenance
No time to rest – On to 2027
Now that the 2024 Edition has been published, and thoughts will turn towards the 2027 Edition. If you have ideas for improving NFPA 70E, it’s time to get involved and submit a Public Input during the next revision cycle. The next deadline is for Public Input which is only a year away!
The 2027 NFPA 70E revision cycle scheduled is:
Public Input Closing Date: June 4, 2024
First Draft Report Posting Date: March 25, 2025
Public Comment Closing Date: June 3, 2025
Second Draft Report Posting Date: March 3, 2026
Motions Committee Report (NITMAM)
NITMAM Closing Date: March 31, 2026
NITMAM Posting Date: May 12, 2026
Important Note: This article is based on my article originally published in the May 2023 Edition of Electrical Contractor Magazine www.ecmag.com Also, this article is from the author’s view and may not necessarily represent any official position of IEEE or NFPA.