Between 2015 and 2016, the number of electrical fatalities in the workplace rose 15% to 154. There were 1,640 nonfatal electrical injuries resulting in days away from work in 2016, one-third fewer than the 2015 total.

Every three years, the National Fire Protection Association updates NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, to minimize these injuries and fatalities. The purpose of the standard is to provide a safe working environment that reduces employees’ exposure to electrical hazards such as arc flash.

Here are the biggest changes to the 2018 edition of NFPA 70E:

  1. The requirements for establishing electrically safe work conditions have been restructured to logically guide employers through setting up a program.
  2. The job safety preparation process now requires a qualified person to complete a written plan for all electrical work involving exposure to electrical hazards. According to NFPA 70E, a qualified person is someone who “has demonstrated skills and knowledge related to the construction and operation of electrical equipment and installations and who has received safety training to identify hazards and reduce associated risk.” (Learn more about what it means to be a qualified worker.)
  3. The risk-assessment procedure specifically requires electrical workers to address human error and its negative consequences on people, processes, work environments, and equipment.
  4. The hierarchy of risk controls, previously listed as an informational note, has moved to the standard’s mandatory text. The required hierarchy, which applies to arc-flash and shock-risk assessments, is explicitly stated in descending order of effectiveness: elimination, substitution, engineering controls, awareness, administrative control, and personal protective equipment (PPE).
  5. The table used to estimate the likelihood of occurrence of an arc-flash incident — Table 130.5(C) — now applies to the incident energy analysis, instead of just the PPE category method from previous versions of the standard.

CBS ArcSafe’s remote racking and switching solutions (RRS and RSA) help customers comply with NFPA 70E by allowing technicians to remotely close or trip/install and remove circuit breakers from a safe distance of up to 300 feet, well outside the arc-flash boundary. Contact us to learn more about our products or to request a demo at your facility.