“New NFPA 70E – 2015 Standard Explained”

The 2015 edition of NFPA 70E introduces a major change in how stakeholders evaluate electrical risk, so that owners, managers, and employees can work together to ensure an electrically safe working area and comply with OSHA 1910 Subpart S and OSHA 1926 Subpart K.
• Key changes throughout the Standard replace the phrase “hazard analysis” with “risk assessment” to enable a shift in awareness about the potential for failure.
• Change in naming from “Hazard Risk Category” to “Arc Flash PPE Category.”
• Elimination of Hazard Risk Category 0.
• Requirement added for proper maintenance of electrical equipment for both energized and de-energized maintenance.
• Updated tables add clarity to requirements, such as the restricted approach boundary dimensions in Table 130.4 (D)(a).
• New requirement 320.3 (A)(1) covers risk assessment associated with battery work.
• New subsection in 130.2 (A)(4) provides requirements where normal operation of electric equipment is permitted.
• Informative Annex E has updated text to correlate with the redefined terminology associated with hazard and risk. This annex provides clarity and consistency about definitions as well as risk management principles vital to electrical safety.

In short, the above changes noted are a bit easier explained as follows:

There are many changes that you should be aware of in the new NFPA 70E 2015 edition. Changes in the boundaries will certainly have an effect on the type and rating of the electrical personal protective equipment that qualified electrical workers will be wearing.

Although the prohibited approach boundary has been deleted, there are still shock hazards and arc flash boundaries remaining that must be understood.

First, the restricted approach boundary is closest to the energized equipment and may only be crossed by qualified workers with the proper PPE. Next, you have the limited approach boundary that unqualified workers can cross only if they are in the proper PPE and accompanied by a qualified worker. Finally, the arc flash boundary is the boundary that requires any person that crosses it to be in the appropriate arc flash PPE.

This may be one of the most important boundaries to be aware of in your facility, as it affects not only electrical workers but all personnel. It is critical that all are aware of this boundary because there are no requirements on who can cross this boundary unless your company has an internal policy in place written in its electrical safety program.

Another change in the NFPA 70E 2015 edition to be aware of involves work permits. Any time the restricted approach boundary is crossed, a work permit will now be required.

Please work through your internal electrical safety program team to ensure this process is followed prior to any work taking place within the restricted approach boundary. Keep in mind that a work permit may not be required when troubleshooting, testing or voltage measuring is taking place.

Another change to consider is what electrical PPE is needed when working energized. Since the prohibited approach boundary for shock protection has been deleted, there are some updates in NFPA 70E 2015 around this.

Table 130.4 (D)(a) defines the approach boundaries and there have been some changes as it pertains to voltages. For example, the old NFPA 70E version from 2012 had shock boundaries built around 50V-300V and 301V-750V. However, this has now changed and the shock protection boundaries for 2015 are 50V-150V and 151V-750V. What this means is that shock hazard equipment will be required when inside the restricted approach boundary.

There are many changes you will want to familiarize yourself with in the NFPA 70E 2015 edition that could affect your overall facility, as well as your processes on working in or around energized electrical equipment.

This new edition is available for purchase at NFPA.org and other technical book stores.


Comments Welcomed!

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.