We are continually asked – is the NFPA 70E© enforced by OSHA? The short answer is no, because NFPA 70E© is a consensus standard and not an OSHA regulation which is enforced by federal law. However, OSHA has several requirements that are enforceable by law and the NFPA 70E© is accepted by OSHA as a nationally recognized consensus standard for best practice in the United States.
29 CFR 1910.132 (d)(1) Requires employers perform a personal protective equipment (PPE) hazard assessment to determine necessary PPE;
29 CFR 1910.269 (l)(6)(iii) Requires employers ensure each employee working at electric power generation, transmission, and distribution facilities who is exposed to the hazards of flames or electric arcs does not wear clothing that could increase the extent of injury when exposed to such a hazard;
1910.332(b) Content of training.
1910.332(b)(1) Practices addressed in this standard. Employees shall be trained in and familiar with the safety-related work practices required by 1910.331 through 1910.335 that pertain to their respective job assignments.
1910.332(b)(2) Additional requirements for unqualified persons. Employees who are covered by paragraph (a) of this section but who are not qualified persons shall also be trained in and familiar with any electrically related safety practices not specifically addressed by 1910.331 through 1910.335 but which are necessary for their safety.
1910.332(b)(3) Additional requirements for qualified persons. Qualified persons (i.e. those permitted to work on or near exposed energized parts) shall, at a minimum, be trained in and familiar with the following:
1910.332(b)(3)(i) The skills and techniques necessary to distinguish exposed live parts from other parts of electric equipment.
1910.332(b)(3)(ii) The skills and techniques necessary to determine the nominal voltage of exposed live parts, and
1910.332(b)(3)(iii) The clearance distances specified in 1910.333(c) and the corresponding voltages to which the qualified person will be exposed.
*NOTE: For the purposes of 1910.331 through 1910.335, a person must have the training required by paragraph (b)(3) of this section in order to be considered a qualified person.
1910.332(c) Type of training: The training required by this section shall be of the classroom or on-the-job type. The degree of training provided shall be determined by the risk to the employee.
*NOTE: Qualified persons whose work on energized equipment involves either direct contact or contact by means of tools or materials must also have the training needed to meet 1910.333(C)(2).
29 CFR 1910.333 (b)(2)(iv)(B) A qualified person shall use test equipment to test the circuit elements and electrical parts of equipment to which employees will be exposed and shall verify that the circuit elements and equipment parts are deenergized. The test shall also determine if any energized condition exists as a result of inadvertently induced voltage or unrelated voltage back feed even though specific parts of the circuit have been deenergized and presumed to be safe. If the circuit to be tested is over 600 volts, nominal, the test equipment shall be checked for proper operation immediately after this test.
29 CFR 1910.335 (a)(1)(i) Employees working in areas where there are potential electrical hazards shall use electrical protective equipment appropriate for the specific parts of the body for the work being performed;
29 CFR 1910.335 (a)(1)(iv) Requires employees wear non-conductive head protection whenever exposed to electric shock or burns due to contact with exposed energized parts;
29 CFR 1910.335 (a)(1)(v) Employees shall wear protective equipment for the eyes or face wherever there is danger of injury to the eyes or face from electric arcs or flashes or from flying objects resulting from an electrical explosion;
29 CFR 1910.335 (a)(2) Employees shall use insulated tools or handling equipment when working near exposed energized conductors or circuit parts;
29 CFR 1926.28 (a) Employer shall require employees wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) during construction work.
OSHA and NFPA 70E
U.S. Department of Labor Office of Public Affairs, Mike D’Aquino, provided the following response questions concerning OSHA and NFPA 70E:
1. How does OSHA utilize NFPA 70E during inspections?
“OSHA enforces 29 CFR 1910.333(a) when employers fail to select and use work practices to prevent electric shock from direct or indirect electrical contacts when work is performed near or on equipment or circuits which are or may be energized. Specific work practice requirements are detailed in paragraph (c) of this section.”
2. What does OSHA expect from employers with respect to arc-rated clothing?
Response: “OSHA enforces 29 CFR 1910.137(b)(2)(ii) when the employer fails to ensure that the insulating equipment has not been inspected for damage before each day’s use and immediately following any incident that can reasonably be suspected of having caused damage. OSHA enforces 29 CFR 1910.137(b)(1) when protective equipment has not been maintained in a safe, reliable condition. OSHA enforces 29 CFR 1910.137(b)(2)(viii) when electrical protective equipment has not been periodically tested.
*NOTE: Insulated protected tools and testing equipment are not considered to be personal protective equipment when working in proximity to exposed electrical parts. These tools are designed to make contact with exposed energized conductors or circuit parts.”
3. Has OSHA recently been issuing violations for failure to wear arc-rated clothing?
Response: “Yes. OSHA enforces 29 CFR 1910.335(a)(2)(ii) when the employer fails to use safeguards, such as shields, barriers, or insulating material, to protect employees from shock, burns, or other electrically related injuries. In situations where safeguards that are not fully protective safeguards are used, OSHA’s citation policy for de minimis violations may apply if the employer has implemented supplemental measures, which could include the use of arc-rated clothing, to fully protect employees from all residual energy (e.g., the resultant thermal effects from the electric arc that passes the initial safeguard). See Letter of Interpretation dated November 14, 2006.”
Example of an OSHA Citation for Arc Flash
Region 1 News Release: 12-1091-BOS/BOS 2012-098
June 6, 2012
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
US Department of Labor's OSHA cites North Billerica, Mass., contractor for violations following arc blast at Andover work site that injured worker Interstate Electrical Services faces $81,000 in fines
ANDOVER, Mass. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Interstate Electrical Services, a North Billerica electrical contractor, for alleged willful and serious violations following a November 2011 arc flash blast at an Andover job site. Two workers installing electrical service were seriously burned when a piece of equipment made contact with an energized part of an electrical panel, resulting in the arc flash.
OSHA's Andover Area Office determined that the energized electrical panel was not effectively guarded to prevent workers from coming in contact. As a result of this condition, OSHA issued a willful citation, with a $70,000 fine. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
OSHA also issued the contractor two serious citations, with $11,000 in fines, for additional electrical hazards posed by a damaged power cord and an energized electrical wire that was not protected against damage. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
"Electricity can injure or kill workers in seconds. It is imperative for employers to ensure all necessary safeguards are in place and in use to prevent incidents like this from occurring," said Jeffrey A. Erskine, OSHA's area director in Andover.
Interstate Electrical Services has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hot line at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Andover Area Office at 978-837-4460.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov