NFPA 70E: Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace covers a wide range of different subjects related to electrical safety and is one of the most important standards developed by the National Fire Protection Association. This standard has been around for decades now, but had a major update in 2018 when the NFPA made electrical safety, and especially arc flash safety, a main focus for their revisions.
Referenced by OSHA
This particular safety code is heavily referenced by OSHA in their electrical safety standards. NFPA 70E can be seen as the main source for OSHA because it has been proven to be an effective set of standards to help reduce the risk of electrocution, arc flash injuries, and more.
Elimination of the Hazard
One of the primary focuses of the NFPA 70E since the 2018 update is identifying and eliminating the hazards associated with electrical systems. While protecting oneself is sufficient in many situations, it has been determined that electrical hazards are too dangerous to attempt to mitigate with personal protection equipment (though PPE does have a role to play). For example, since an arc flash can cause a massive explosion, extreme heat, and powerful electrical blasts it is unreasonable to have an employee simply put on a protection suit. Even the highest rated suits will leave an employee working with high voltage equipment at risk.
Instead, NFPA 70E recommends finding where arc flashes or other electrical faults are most likely to occur, and taking steps to prevent that from happening. This is also done by keeping people away from high voltage areas. Restricting areas will help ensure nobody is at risk in case a problem occurs. Keeping people out of a high voltage area will also make it so people won’t accidentally bump or damage a system, resulting in an incident. Taking this approach can help to reduce the injuries and fatalities that could otherwise occur.
Taken as a whole, NFPA 70E is a great guide for keeping people safe when working around electrical systems. Electricity represents one of the most dangerous elements of a facility, so it is critical that all companies become familiar with this standard and follow it at all times.