Third in a four-part series on Arc Flash Mitigation


The 2012 edition of NFPA 70E, the Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®, is now published and should be accessed by anyone who works near electricity. This standard, which is updated every three years, is an all-encompassing resource that explains in detail the steps that should be taken to ensure electrical workers can do their jobs without getting hurt or killed, and also addresses how to how to deal with electrical hazards as safely as possible while on the job.

At a hefty 103 pages, the new NFPA 70E is not a “light read” by any stretch of the imagination. While there are many articles available on the Internet and in print that provide overviews of the new standard, one of the best is an article titled “Significant Changes to 2012 NFPA 70E,” which was published in the winter edition of NETAWorld Journal.

Here, Eric Beckman, Operations Manager for National Field Services, offers a few insights of his own as to what are the most significant changes in this latest edition of NFPA 70E.

  • General Maintenance Requirements—Electrical Equipment Shall Be Maintained in Accordance with Manufacturer’s Instructions or Industry Consensus Standards.
    “This means that now electrical equipment must be maintained and PM’ed per the manufacturer’s instructions or something like NETA, ANSI, or NFPA 70B,” Eric said.
  • Over-Current Protective Devices—Maintenance, Tests, and Inspections Shall Be Documented.
    “Now electrical tests shall be done on circuit breakers, fuses, protective relays, and more,” Eric said. “Additionally this has to be documented and kept for reference on the equipment being serviced.”
  • FR (Flame Resistant) in Terms of Personal Protective Equipment Has Been Changed to AR (Arc Resistant).
    “This is a terminology change,” Eric said. “All arc-rated PPE is fire resistant, but not all fire-resistant is AR.” AR PPE helps protect workers from the effects of an arc flash, not just from fire and flames. If you are using FR-rated PPE, you should consult with the manufacturer to ensure it is also AR, Eric said.
  • Arc Flash Label Requirements
    “This now requires that arc flash boundaries be present on the label, along with one of the following: incident energy and working distance, minimum AR rating of clothing, required PPE, or highest HRC for the equipment,” Eric said.
    According to the article in NETAWORLD, the labeling requirement applies only to equipment that will be inspected, maintained, adjusted, or serviced while energized.
  • Arc Flash Tables
    “Various changes to the tasks and associated PPE requirements have been modified in the tables,” Eric said. “These tables are an ongoing change from update to update.”
  • One Line Diagrams Must Be Legible and Kept Up to Date
    “One line diagrams that are provided have to be legible and kept up to date with any additions that have been made to the facility,” Eric said.

Training is another area impacted by the latest version of NFPA 70E. Employees must complete arc flash safety training every three years. The documentation regarding that training must include the employee’s name and date of the training—and the content included in that training. Finally, the new training requirements make it mandatory for all employees who are responsible for taking action in an emergency situation be trained in CPR, methods of release, and must also participate in annual automated external defibrillator (AED) training, if one is onsite.

As expected, the majority of the changes for the 2012 edition of NFPA 70E were made in an effort to make it easier for employees to reference, thereby increasing the likelihood of compliance and greater safety in the workplace.

Related Links
Coordination Study: Blending Safety and System Reliability through Equipment Adjustments, Modifications and Upgrades
NETA-Accredited Companies Setting Industry Standard
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