NFPA 70E is recognized by OSHA as the Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace. It explains in detail steps that should be taken to ensure electrical workers can do their jobs safely and also addresses how to deal with electrical hazards as safely as possible while on the job.
As technology improves and production demand grows, safety codes must be updated to meet the ever evolving changes in the workplace. NFPA recognizes these changes and adjusts or adds regulations to its’ standard for electrical safety in the workplace every three years.
The next edition (2015 NFPA 70E Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace) is set to come out in 2015. The anticipated changes include:
- New and improved (easier to understand) Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) application tables.
- The elimination of Hazard Risk Category “0”.
- The elimination of Prohibited Approach Boundaries.
Changes to the PPE Tables:
The new tables are designed to simplify the selection Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for all tasks. It combines the separate ac and dc tables now in use and makes them consistent, improving usability. The table will no longer refer to Hazard Risk Categories but PPE Categories, which is more in line with their purpose.
When using the new table, the type of equipment is selected first. If it falls below the limits given, the Arc-Flash PPE Category is chosen from a separate table. If not, an arc-flash study must be performed to determine what PPE is needed. In conjunction with using the table, workers should establish that four key conditions are met, no matter what task is to be performed:
- The equipment is properly installed.
- The equipment is properly maintained.
- Covers for all other equipment are in place and secured.
- There is no evidence of impending failure.
The elimination of Hazard Risk Category “0”
As of 2015, Hazard Risk Categories will be referred to as “PPE Categories.” The “0” level is no longer necessary as the new PPE table will only specify PPE for work within the Arc-Flash Boundary. The committee feels that if there is no arc-flash hazard, then no arc-flash PPE should be worn and it is therefore not necessary on a table devoted to such PPE.
The elimination of the Prohibited Approach Boundary
The NFPA 70E committee looked at the boundaries for shock and decided that a listed boundary should trigger an action. Unlike the Limited Approach Boundary, which unqualified persons cannot pass, or the Restricted Approach Boundary, the point at which qualified persons have to use shock protective PPE, the Prohibited Approach Boundary is more of a “watch out” boundary that does not require any different action than the Limited Approach Boundary.