What are electrical safety standards and who enforces them?

There are many different electrical safety standards that need to be followed in the workplace. These standards are often developed by safety companies, governmental agencies, or others that work to find the best practices in given situations. Some of these standards are enforced by government agencies, such as OSHA, and can come with serious penalties. Others are simply best practice recommendations, and there is no enforcement measures possible. That being said, however, following these standards for electrical safety is still in the best interests of companies.

OSHA Standards

The best known name in workplace safety is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA. OSHA regulates many different aspects of workplace safety, including basic electrical safety. Some of their most important standards are the following:

  • Personal Protection Equipment – OSHA requires that the right electrical protective equipment is worn or used whenever working on dangerous electrical systems.
  • Safety for Electricity Generation – Those who work in electrical power generation, transmission, and distribution need to follow the special instructions for this industry.OSHA and NFPA Logos
  • Maritime Standards – OSHA has specific guidelines for working on electrical systems while at sea.

NFPA Standards

The National Fire Protection Association, or NFPA, is another group that provides safety standards focused on electricity. Their most famous set of standards is called NFPA 70, and is also known by the name ‘National Electrical Code.’ These standards set forth safety requirements that offer a great balance of workplace safety with productivity. Their standards identify shock protection boundaries, electrical equipment, arc flash safety, lockout-tagout systems, and other electrical hazards. While NFPA doesn’t have any legal enforcement power, they are among the most respected agencies in the country, and are voluntarily followed by millions of companies. If a company doesn’t follow the standards, they can’t claim to be NFPA compliant.

Keeping Up with Changing Standards

OSHA, NFPA, and other groups are constantly working on finding newer and better ways to work with electrical systems that will keep everyone safe. As new and improved best practices are developed, the standards released by these groups are updated. All companies are responsible for keeping up with the latest changes and safe work practices to ensure everyone is protected.


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