December 11, 2012

What Is The Main Goal Of NFPA 70E Compliance?

When I visit manufacturing sites across the country, I am constantly thinking about the true purpose of NFPA 70E and what the primary goals are within this complex code. The real goal behind conducting an electrical NFPA 70E assessment of any facility is to provide the information in a format that supports your employee’s needs on a daily basis. The primary objective of NFPA 70E, and OSHA for that matter, is to provide employees a clear and concise process to safely de-energize equipment.

When auditing a facility, OSHA will often interview an employee on the production floor. They’ll lead them with a simple question, such as, “How do you change a fuse in a control cabinet?” While this is likely a task that many employees have performed hundreds of times over the years, the question has merit.

If an employee is able to properly execute roughly a nine step safety process, and show all the correct steps it takes to prove that control cabinet is de-energized, then he or she has demonstrated all the correct arc flash PPE steps needed, and your employee would pass an audit check.

The simple truth is most safety policies are not adequate enough to support NFPA 70E goals. NFPA 70E compliance is more complex than simply performing an arc flash study and creating PPE labeling on equipment. If an employer does not incorporate ties with true electrical upstream LOTO naming and correct electrical print development, they may find themselves in a state of false compliance and have a program that is not user-friendly.

In my next blog post, I will cover the step-by-step process to show OSHA that your employees have the right procedures in place to properly de-energize equipment. That process will become the foundation from which you build your policies around.