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NFPA 70E: Standard for Electrically Safety in the Workplace continues to evolve and shape the way employers and employees approach electrical safety to help save lives and avoid losses due to the hazards that are present when working on or near electrical systems. Having the right tools to help guide you and your employees through this process is key. And that’s where the 2018 70E Handbook comes in.   
70E, worker safetyNot sure how the Handbook can help? Try and think of it this way: As an employer, you need to comply with OSHA guidelines, right? So, OSHA is the “what” you need to do and NFPA 70E is the “how” you do it. The newly published 2018 70E Handbook goes one step further and gives you the all-important “whys” and support when you need it.    
You may ask, “Can a Handbook really do all that?” YES! The 2018 edition includes more than 150 full-color photos, charts and illustrations that really bring these safety concepts to life. And we’re pleased to announce two new features you’ll want to take advantage of and share with staff. They include:   
  •  “Worker alerts,” which highlight crucial electrical safety information specifically designed for the employee 
  • OSHA Connection" information, which shows how OSHA's electrical safety standards correspond with certain NFPA 70E requirements 
Other great features of the Handbook include: 
  • The entire 2018 NFPA 70E text plus exclusive commentary that explains requirements and their intent, and it breaks down tasks. The Handbook also addresses different equipment and scenarios. 
  • Commentary on major updates, such as the modification of arc flash hazard identification table [Table 130.7(C)(15)(A)(a)] to the new Table 130.5(C) that helps determine the likelihood that an arc flash could occur regardless of the chosen risk assessment method.  
  • Case studies to help examine “what went right” and “what went wrong” with real examples of how NFPA 70E applies in the workplace. 
  • Supplements that include a list of requirement headings from the 2017 NEC that directly impact the implementation of safety-related work practices. You’ll also find extracted material from NFPA 70B: Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance on electrical equipment maintenance, and guidance for writing a safety procedure. 
Read more about the “power” of handbooks and how they can really help on the job, and provide your team with the tools they need to get the job done safely and efficiently. Learn more about 70E, purchase the Handbook and find other 70E-related resources at www.nfpa.org/70e.   

 

If you have been following this blog, you may have noticed that I occasionally mention that unsafe work practices may add you to the statistics. Although there are many more injuries than fatalities, the statistics I refer to are the fatalities because on those days family members didn’t realize that the person would not be coming home from work.


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) compiles all types of data regarding the workplace. There are many reports generated. The database goes on and on. Many aspects overlap and sometimes it is hard to pin down a single, pertinent statistic. My caveat is that I am not a data cruncher, analyst, or anything else along that line. I have done my best to find what I thought is appropriate for this blog. I was unable to find BLS data on arc-flash fatalities. All the numbers are the average of fatalities over the last dozen years (2003-2015).


There is an average of 5,122 fatalities annually in the workplace. There are three BLS categories that typically fall under the scope of NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®. These are construction and extraction occupations; installation, maintenance, and repair occupations; and building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations. These three categories accounted for nearly one-third (1,615) of all fatalities. Half of these fatalities occurred in the construction and extraction occupations under which electricians averaged 81 fatalities. Nearly one-quarter of these electrician fatalities where residential electrical contractors. Electrical contractors accounted for an average of 75 and plumbing, heating and HVAC accounted for another 60 per year. Under the installation, maintenance and repair category, electrical and electronic mechanics, installers and repairers averaged 20 fatalities which is less than those involved with HVAC at 25 fatalities and industrial machinery at 74. General maintenance and repair workers averaged 98 fatalities per year. For a comparison, the utilities averaged 23 fatalities in power generation, transmission, and distribution.


These fatalities are from all causes. However, according to the BLS data an average of 192 workers were killed from exposure to electricity. This is 4% of all workplace fatalities and 12% of the fatalities from the three BLS categories. This could have been considerably lower if the requirements of NFPA 70E had been followed. There is an encouraging trend in that there was a decrease from 250 fatalities per year at the beginning of the decade to 151 annually towards the end. It might be a coincidence but this decrease has occurred as NFPA 70E has gained traction throughout the industry. The good news is 100 more workers returned home at the end of the day in 2015 than in 2003. Although this is of no consolation to those other 150 families.


A shift in the reporting process occurred in 2011. Data began to collect on the voltage present when a fatality occurred. Annually, 220 volts or less has been fatal to 31 workers whereas voltages greater than 220 volts have been fatal to 110 workers. Electrocution has been a known electrical hazard since the beginning and was most likely the cause of death at 220 volts or less. It is troubling that barring an electrically safe work condition, it is probable that many of these workers lost their life for the lack of an inexpensive, properly insulted tool. The electrical parts involved in the fatalities, in descending order, are: power lines, transformers, and converters; building wiring; switchboards, switches and fuses; generators; power cords, extension cords, and electrical cords; and motors. With the increase in popularity in energy storage, since 2011 an average of one worker has been killed when batteries have been involved.


You may look at these numbers while thinking that only 4% of the fatalities were within the scope of NFPA 70E. You may think more workers return home safely each day compared to those that do not. You might consider that 192 electrical fatalities out of the thousands of workers in this industry gives you pretty good odds of returning home. With about 250 working days in a year this means that every day and a half a worker is killed by electricity in the workplace. When they went to work, how many of these thought they would not be seeing their family again? It doesn’t matter that there are long odds against you becoming a fatality. What does matter is that there is no need to take any chance that you will not return home today.


Remember that these are fatality statistics. Reported injuries are an order of magnitude higher. There is no estimate of unreported injuries or near misses (electric shock). Physical and psychological injuries often accompany an electrical injury whether it is reported or not. It is astounding that electrical fatalities and injuries are often easily prevented. Why would you take any chance at becoming a statistic?


For more information on 70E, read my entire 70E blog series on Xchange.


Next time: What would you do?

 

We all know the role that firefighters play in saving lives and reducing risk in our cities and towns. Or do we?

 

Increasingly, fire departments are expected to provide data to underscore their impact in communities. NFPA is well aware of this validation trend, because our research department often fields calls looking for metrics that will help fire leaders tell their story to bean counters and policy makers. No doubt, fire leaders can provide passionate perspective, but statistics and research are proving to be a game-changer when it comes to demonstrating the value of the modern day fire department.

 

Historically, authorities have looked at the number of incidents, deaths, injuries and damage to show why it’s important to have a professional, responsive fire department. Today, departments can also show environmental and economic data to reinforce their clout. Local fire officials, however, are not always equipped to pull together the right insights.

So, in 2015, NFPA sponsored the project, Development of an Environmental and Economic Assessment Tool (Enveco Tool) for Fire Events. The research was done by the Technical Research Institute of Sweden and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). NFPA then hosted Economic Decision Making in Fire and Electrical Safety – A Workshop on the Needs and Resources that same year. Findings from these two efforts were released in May and August 2016.

 

To keep things simple the Enveco feasibility study took into account fully developed warehouse fires in industrial areas where water was used for fire suppression. It looked at incident data and different variables so that a tool could be created that compares the economic impact of fire department intervention for a real study with a situation where there is no fire department intervention. The goal was to provide even more information that would show why it is prudent to invest in a strong local fire infrastructure.

 

Project leads and the technical panel recommended further research and suggested that the functionality of the tool be expanded. They felt this would not only bolster the worth of fire departments, but possibly benefit other interested parties. Efforts to enhance the tool are currently underway, using the Enveco version as a baseline. The new resource will include pilot studies and enhancements, and will be complete in 2018.

 

NFPA has been working on other economic impact initiatives in the 18 months since the Enveco discussions so that the fire service can provide relevant data during fire service budget and contract meetings. In the coming months, we will post a series of Economic Impact of Fire blogs highlighting new research, resources and tools that will be helpful as departments look to influence decision-makers. Here’s what’s in the pipeline:

 

  • A total cost of fire report (direct and indirect costs, excluding wildfire)
  • A look at the economic impact that firefighter injuries have on communities
  • A data tool, using real estate data, to estimate the dollar loss associated with fire incidents
  • Insight on the impact of fire sprinkler regulation on real estate costs
  • Updates and enhancements to NFPA’s long-standing report on the total cost of fire analytics
  • Outcomes from NFPA’s cost/benefit regulatory workshop
  • Fire prevention economic impact information

 

Statistics tell a positive story about the tremendous progress the fire service is making in reducing loss from fire; however, our world and fires are different today. The fire service needs to validate their services in a different way too.

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