The National Fire Protection Association 70E standards are in place to help protect workers from electrical hazards in the workplace. The regulations also assist organizations in understanding and implementing safety measures and assessing risk.

PropertyCasualty360 explained that while electrical-related accidents might not be the most frequent workplace incidents, they tend to be the most severe. In turn, they lead to larger workers’ compensation claims and potential deaths. With the new 2015 NFPA 70E standards now in place, it’s critical to understand the latest updates and changes.

Avoiding the ‘shock’ of change
According to Electrical Safety Foundation International, more than 300,000 employers have sustained electrical-related injuries in the last decade. From electrocution to shock, any number of accidents can lead to serious complications, both physical and financial.

NFPA 70E helps companies collect the appropriate resources for protection, including flame-resistant clothing, electrically safe working conditions and extensive employee training. Every three years, the standards are updated by the Technical Committee to maintain usable, easy-to-interpret guidelines, with the most recent changes going into effect in October 2014.

With the newest edition making changes to the 2012 standards, there are alterations that employers should be cognizant of moving into 2015.

Knowing the changes to NFPA 70E
Tyndale USA explained there are alterations to original terminology in the new edition, such as replacing the “Hazard/risk” category (HRC) with the “Personal Protective Equipment” (PPE) category. In addition, 70E will refer to “Hazard Analysis” as “Risk Assessment” and changes the definition.

The 2015 edition refers to risk assessment as a process that identifies hazards, estimates potential injuries, measures the likelihood of damages to health and determines if protective measures are required. The ability to prevent accidents before they can even develop is crucial for worksites that include potentially dangerous electrical projects.

Workers will also be required to wear more “coverage” as part of their uniforms. For example, Tyndale pointed out the use of the word “coveralls” and how they must be fastened at the wrists to protect exposed skin. All shirts and jackets must be closed at the neck to prevent any materials from getting caught.

Given the changes to the standards, clothing manufacturers will have to alter their labeling on arc-related clothing to comply with new terminology. With the HRC being removed from NFPA 70E, these companies will need to use PPE language to communicate to workers how protective the gear is.

Educating employees on the changes
PropertyCasualty360 recommended having workers and their supervisors conduct risk assessments, which can be facilitated by following the new guidelines from NFPA 70E. Arc flashes can be the most dangerous electrical-related accidents, with temperatures suddenly soaring so high that they can cause severe burns or death in seconds. Staff should ensure any electrical systems studies focus on preventing these deadly accidents.

Assessing company procedures and guidelines is crucial for identifying any hazardous areas of worksites and rectifying all risks. With the new NFPA 70E standards, employers can learn the right protocols for electrical work and keep employees safe.

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