NFPA 70E / Updates Workers Should Know

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) published the 2009 edition of the 70E Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace. The new edition contains significant changes from the 2004 7th edition. A summary of the differences and additions are below.

NFPA 70 (NEC) vs. NFPA 70E

What are the differences?

NFPA 70E is designed to fulfill OSHA’s responsibilities, and be fully consistent with the NEC code. The standard extracts suitable portions from the NEC Code and from other documents applicable to electrical safety and makes them more user friendly in an industrial employer/employee atmosphere rather than an electricians setting.

The NEC code is intended for use primarily by those who design, install, and inspect electrical installations (electricians by trade). OSHA’s electrical regulations address the employer and employee in their workplace. The technical content and complexity of the NEC is extremely difficult for the average employer and employee to understand  Some of the provisions in the NEC are not directly related to employee safety and therefore are of little value to OSHA’s needs

Highlights of Changes from 2004 edition to 2009 edition:

Updated to correlate with the latest NEC code – 2008

Chapter 4: Installation Safety Requirements has been removed entirely because it was a duplicate of the NEC installation requirements. Since the NEC and NFPA 70E are on different revision cycles there was always the risk that the contents of Chapter 4 were not up to date with the NEC.

Article 350 was added for Research & Development facilities

Significant revisions to Annex D, E, F, and J

Annex D: Sample Calculation of Flash Protection Boundary

Annex E: Electrical Safety Program

Annex F: Hazard/risk Evaluation Procedure

Annex J: Energized Electrical Work Permit

Added Annexes M, N, and O (All Non-Mandatory)

Annex M: Layering of Protective Clothing and Total System Arc Rating

Annex N: Example Industrial Procedures and Policies for Working Near Overhead Electrical Lines and Equipment

Annex O: Safety-Related Design Requirements

Editorial changes to aid the reader like highlighting and gray shading within sections Deletions from the previous edition (2004) of more than one complete paragraph is indicated by a bullet symbol .The index now has dictionary-style headers with helpful identifiers at the top of every index page.

NFPA 70E covers the full range of electrical safety issues, including safety related work practices, maintenance, special equipment requirements, and installation. It focuses on protecting people and identifies requirements that are considered necessary to provide a workplace that is free of electrical hazards. OSHA bases its electrical safety mandates, found in Subpart S part 1910 (Gen. Industry) and Subpart K part 1926 (Construction), on the comprehensive information found in NFPA 70E. NFPA 70E is recognized as the tool that illustrates how an employer might comply with these OSHA standards. The relationship between the OSHA regulations and NFPA 70E can be described as OSHA is the “shall” and NFPA 70E the “how.”

OSHA mandates that all services to electrical equipment be done in a de-energized state. Working live can only be under special circumstances. If it is necessary to work live (>50 volts to ground), the regulations outlined in NFPA 70E, Article 130 should be used as a tool to comply with OSHA mandates Subpart S part 1910.333(a)(1).

 Highlights of this article include:

Shock hazard analysis (paragraph 130.2) : Determines the voltage to which personnel will be exposed, boundary requirements, and PPE necessary. Table 130.2( C ) is used to determine boundary distances.

Flash hazard analysis (paragraph 130.3): Determines the flash protection boundary and PPE needed within that boundary. The flash protection boundary is determined by methods found in 130.3(A) or Annex D of the standard. Protective clothing is determined by using tables 130.7( C )(9)(a), 130.7( C )(10), and 130.7( C )(11). For more information, go to: