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NFPA 70E 2021 Update: Notable Changes

Every three years, the NFPA 70E committee works to address the dynamic electrical safety industry and the changes and improvements that occur within this segment of workplace safety.

This year, the main focus and biggest change was a reorganization to put emphasis and clarification on the Electrically Safe Work Condition, meaning when this is required and not how this is achieved. This includes when an employee is within a boundary, or when an employee interacts with equipment, rather than the process of how to achieve an electrically safe work condition.

Aside from this, there were a handful of other changes and re-organizations, a few of which we have highlighted below.

Host & Contract Employer’s Responsibility

  • This documentation now states that on multi-employer worksites, more than one employer can be responsible. This is intended to clarify that safety is everyone’s responsibility.

Equipment Use

  • This is a new addition to state that equipment shall be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Selection of Arc Rated Clothing and PPE

  • If you are wearing arc-rated PPE and also need to wear outerwear to protect against weather or need enhanced visibility on top of the main arc-rated PPE, the outer garments do not need to be equal to the incident energy. As long as they have an arc rating, they are considered acceptable.
  • Footwear other than dielectric or leather are now permitted as long as it has been tested to not ignite, melt or drip at the incident energy.

Personal and Other Protective Equipment

  • For this section, a note was added for when the estimated incident energy exposure is greater than available arc-rated PPE, then the following examples of risk reduction can be used to reduce the occurrence of an incident:
    • 1. Use of a non-contact proximity tester before the use of a contact tester
    • 2. If equipment design allows, look for visible gaps. For example, is there a switch – is it open?
    • 3. Increase working distance. The further from the hazard a worker can be, the exposure energy decreases.
    • 4. Different equipment and set-up design options to reduce the incident energy level.

Maximum Use for Voltage Rated Gloves

  • A table has been added for maximum use voltage, different classes, and including flashover distance.

PPE Testing and Standards 

  • These standards have been moved to an informational note within this section and now include references to IEC standards as well (IEC 61482-1-1 & IEC 61482-2) in order to be more applicable to international practices.

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