CHANGES TO NFPA 70E REQUIREMENTS

 

The standards for fire protection and electrical safety are constantly changing and it is vital for electrical testing companies and their clients to remain on top of these revisions to the NFPA 70E. As an accredited member of NETA (InterNational Electrical Testing Association) and a registered engineering firm with the state of Texas, we at National Field Services have taken the appropriate steps to maintain these standards in our own facilities and with our clients.

Some major changes in the 2009 edition have required an upgrade in PPE levels, labels, and requirements, as well as a revisit of safety and training procedures to minimize work injuries and reduce or eliminate damage to equipment. Perhaps the most important change to the NFPA 70E is the requirement of the maintenance of overcurrent protective devices (fused switches, circuit breakers, etc.) to comply with manufacturers’ instructions or industry consensus standards. This requirement should result in saved lives and reductions in personal injuries and equipment damage. Awareness of the change is especially important for those who must adhere to NFPA 70E and clients for whom we do arc flash studies.

Arc flash exposure often leads to serious injuries and sometimes even death. Even the best-case scenarios present a disaster to the company, resulting in extensive downtime and costly repair. Aside from the costs of equipment and manpower, litigation proceedings in the event of noncompliance with NFPA standards can arise, so it is crucial to know of the changes brought forth in the 2009 edition of the NFPA 70E.

This addition to the NFPA 70E is a direct result of companies failing to comply with previous standards by applying generic warning labels in energized areas. Historically, safety program guidelines were not tightly enforced. Although an arc flash study might have been outlined in a company’s safety program, it does not necessarily mean it was done. The 2009 edition of the NFPA 70E has changed to require that employers have these studies conducted to determine incident energy. With this, the appropriate warning labels and PPE levels can be applied so that workers know the right safety measures to take when working in energized areas.

Other additions to the NFPA 70E include changes in documentation, employee training, and PPE requirements. Employee training, for example, must be documented, meaning that trainees must become familiar with the hazards of working in energized areas. This includes knowledge of the difference between approach boundaries as well as the appropriate PPE level in any given situation.

We have made the proper steps to ensure the new guidelines are being followed. We feel it will make a safer environment for everyone involved.

For more information, contact us.

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