Electrical Safety and the 2015 NFPA 70E Standard

In 2015, the NFPA made changes to wording and practices in their revision of the NFPA 70E Standard for electrical safety in the workplace. Of note is that when all was said and done, this guidance document identifies minimum acceptable safe work practices rather than best practices. However, workers can still take additional steps to protect themselves. The Standard clarifies “normal operation” of electrical equipment operating at 600 volts or more [Section 130.2 (A)(4)]. The updated Standard also adds clarifying language regarding the installation and upkeep of electrical equipment [Section 1304 Z(B)].  The 2015 edition of NFPA 70E hopefully removes confusion over their previous Prohibited Approach Boundary precautions [Section 130.4(b)] by instead focusing on the LAB (Limited Approach Boundary) and RAB (Restricted Approach Boundary) around potentially arc-flash-producing electrical equipment.  Additionally, the 2015 NFPA 70E reinforces the requirement to keep access to electrical equipment clear in all cases as does OSHA and various fire codes for prohibiting storage in the working space of electrical equipment (including breaker panels) even for temporary storage [130.6 (H)]. Finally, another important change is the 2015 70E’s revised arc flash PPE tables [Section 130.7 (c)(15)]. If your employees have high voltage exposures especially, refer to the NFPA 2015 70E Standard.

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