A Better Understanding of NFPA 70E: The 2024 Edition of NFPA 70E

NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace® is a safe work practice standard that is revised by the public and industry every three years. The revision cycle starts again this year. Many of you know that the main rule in electrical safety is to not work on equipment that is energized. This is what NFPA 70E and OSHA regulations require. There is seldom a need to put an employee at risk if you are honest about it. You also know that providing PPE is not a legitimate reason to put an employee at risk because things can and do go wrong even when performing the simplest task on unjustified, energized equipment.

Although the rule to shut it off, lock it out and verify that it is deenergized has been around for nearly fifty years, no one has come up with something that is an as safe or safer method of protecting an employee from electrical injury. However, there are many other NFPA 70E requirements that do need to be changed with the times. NFPA does not change its standards. NFPA is a standards development organization responsible for administering NFPA 70E. In fact, to keep the process entirely independent, NFPA staff cannot submit a proposed change to a standard. This is where you come in.

It is you who use the standard. And if you do, you know what issues hang you up. You know what it would take to make a requirement easier to understand, to clarify a safety issue or add a requirement to make your workplace safer. Your input could save a life by closing a safety gap that has appeared in current workplace. For those of you who knowingly do not use NFPA 70E, why is that? Do you think the requirements do not provide for your safety? Do you believe the requirements are waste of time to implement? This revision process is for you too. However, just because you believe a requirement is not worth implementing does not justify the need to remove it. Why does removing the requirement make a safer workplace? What alternative can you offer? If there is a fatality or injury reported that would have been prevented if that person did follow the requirement, you will be hard pressed to convince someone that it won’t happen again.

To learn how to participate in the NFPA standards development process and submit proposed text for consideration by the responsible technical committee, please go to www.nfpa.org/submitpi for instructions. You can also submit an input by going to www.nfpa.org/70E and going to the next edition tab. When there, use the link to Submit a Public Input. You have until June 1, 2021 to submit your input for consideration during this revision cycle.

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Christopher Coache
Senior Electrical Engineer

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