2015 Management On The Floor Training

For on the Floor: NFPA 70E 2015 — Making Its Way Into Plants

Rick Carter | August 6, 2015

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The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace—NFPA 70E—should be required reading for anyone who works on energized equipment. Revised every three years, the Standard’s latest version—the 2015 edition (which supersedes all others)—is available for purchase or free download at nfpa.org.

The several changes NFPA approves after each review period are designed to further clarify terminology and procedural descriptions to make them as simple as possible to understand, implement, and follow. Among those who regularly work on electrical equipment, the changes are ideally met with anticipation, carefully reviewed, and worked into company programs. Does this always happen? According to benchmarks such as OSHA’s annual Top 10 list of most-violated regulations in the workplace—which routinely includes several for electrical safety—the answer to this is a firm no. But when asked about the recognition and implementation of NFPA 70E and the 2015 changes in their own operations, our Efficient Plant Reader Panelists’ were more encouraging. Here’s what they had to say:

Founded in 1896, the nonprofit National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), Quincy, MA, is devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical, and related hazards. Its work includes creation and delivery of more than 300 consensus codes and standards, research, training, education, outreach, and advocacy.

Founded in 1896, the nonprofit National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), Quincy, MA, is devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical, and related hazards. Its work includes creation and delivery of more than 300 consensus codes and standards, research, training, education, outreach, and advocacy.

Q: How familiar are you with the NFPA 70E Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace and other NFPA electrical standards, and how they are implemented at your operation?

“We are very familiar at our facility because we deal with all types of electrical equipment with voltages up to 345 KV.”

… Maintenance Supervisor, Midwest

“I’m pretty well up on the 2012 edition. I do not have the newest edition, but I borrowed one to see the changes.”

… Maintenance Coordinator, Mid-Atlantic

“I am very familiar with these standards. I once was an inspector for [a large pipe-manufacturing company] and would visit plants to see if they were in compliance with OSHA 1910 Subpart S-Electrical. I’m also very familiar with NFPA 79 [the Electrical Standard for Industrial Machinery].”

… Consultant, South

“I am very familiar with the NFPA standards and how they are implemented across our plants.”

… Production Support Manager, Midwest

“Very familiar. Our facility follows them as closely as possible.”

… Sr. Facilities Engineer, South

“I’m as familiar as I need to be, considering I do little electrical work. I know enough to get a qualified electrician or electrical engineer involved when building or modifying an electrical system.”

… Maintenance Engineer, West

The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace—NFPA 70E—should be required reading for anyone who works on energized equipment.

The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace—NFPA 70E—should be required reading for anyone who works on energized equipment.

Q: How familiar are you with the recent changes to 70E, a portion of which places more emphasis on electrical-equipment maintenance? Have these changes been, or will they soon be, integrated into your electrical-safety program?

“We are knowledgeable and current with the changes.”

… Maintenance Supervisor, Midwest

“The 2015 changes seem to mostly make statements clearer and change the concept from ‘hazard’ to ‘risk.’ We have implemented most of the changes from the 2012 edition. I work for a large company, so it takes time for course corrections.”

… Maintenance Coordinator, Mid-Atlantic

“I try to follow [the changes], but am overwhelmed with too many projects to do it properly.”

… Consultant, South

“I am just getting up to speed on the 2015 changes. Unfortunately, I do not see that they will be implemented due to cost savings. The safety professional who worked with the NFPA 70E Standard was laid off and no one will be taking up those duties.”

… Production Support Manager, Midwest

“I’m just beginning to study the changes. They have not been implemented yet, but will be.”

… Sr. Facilities Engineer, South

“Not familiar at all.”

… Maintenance Engineer, West

Q: How valuable are the NFPA electrical-safety standards to your operation? What improvements would you suggest, if any?

“They are very valuable.”

… Maintenance Supervisor, Midwest

“Very valuable. Through our knowledge of these codes we have influenced changes in our electrical safe-work practices and increased our personnel’s respect and appreciation for the hazards … pardon me … ‘risks’ in our chosen trade.”

… Maintenance Coordinator, Mid-Atlantic

“In most instances, the standards are 100% effective in providing safety to individuals. But as an electrical practitioner, I see times that the standards seem to put you in a more dangerous position of possibly creating an arc flash. I would hope they’ll address those areas in the future.”

… Production Support Manager, Midwest

“They are extremely valuable. We make every attempt to meet all requirements. No suggestions come to mind.”

… Sr. Facilities Engineer, South

Q: How often is electrical-safety training conducted at your operation? Is this adequate?

“Formal training is done semi-annually, while informal tailgate and job-safety review is done daily.”

… Maintenance Supervisor, Midwest

“Electrical safety is integrated into our mechanical crew training once a year, and our electricians and instrument and controls personnel have it integrated into all of their training.”

… Maintenance Coordinator, Mid-Atlantic

“In the past, we would have electrical training once a year as a refresher, and we would have extra training when the changes to NFPA 70E would come out. I do not believe this is happening now.”

… Production Support Manager, Midwest

“We conduct our electrical training annually, which is not adequate. I would like more frequent training.”

… Sr. Facilities Engineer, South

“It depends on a person’s job requirements. The more closely a person works with live circuits, the more training that person will receive.”

… Maintenance Engineer, West

Q: What is your plant’s safety record with regard to reportable issues that stem from electricity-related problems?

“We have had no OSHA-reportable injuries or minor injuries at our facility for the 30+ years I have been here. We did terminate one electrical technician during this time for electrical safety violations.”

… Maintenance Supervisor, Midwest

“Considering the size of our operation and the many facets of our various jobs, I believe our record is impressive. Some of our other plants have had incidents, but they have come to us to review our techniques and learn from us, and the entire company is safer for it.”

… Maintenance Coordinator, Mid-Atlantic

“In my work, I find multiple electrical violations in equipment and facilities. Much of the equipment coming in from China violates U.S. electrical standards in many cases. This creates problems as the equipment ages, and people will suffer and die. I do not know what the answer is. Electrical inspection seems to be a thing of the past in many companies today.”

… Consultant, South

“We had an arc flash incident in one of our plants before we implemented the NFPA 70E standards, but have not seen anything in the way of electrical issues recently.”

… Production Support Manager, Midwest

“I can’t quote a statistic, but our record is quite good. I cannot recall an electrical-related accident in the 10+ years I’ve been here.”

… Maintenance Engineer, West 

About the EP Reader Panel

The Efficient Plant Reader Panel includes approximately 100 working industrial-maintenance practitioners and consultants who have volunteered to answer monthly questions prepared by our editorial staff. Panelist identities are not revealed, and their responses are not necessarily projectable. The panel welcomes new members. Have your comments and observations included in this column by joining the EP Reader Panel. To be considered, email your name and contact information to rcarter@efficientplantmag.com with “Reader Panel” in the subject line. All panelists are automatically included in an annual cash-prize drawing after one year of active participation.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Carter

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