Christopher Coache

A better understanding of NFPA 70E: You can help improve electrical safety in the workplace

Blog Post created by Christopher Coache Employee on Feb 20, 2018
Since this blog is dedicated to NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®, readers should be aware that it is time to submit a public input to improve electrical safety for all employees. The public input process is now open for the 2021 edition of the standard. As an industry we must be doing something right. There were over 580 electrocutions in 1981 whereas there were 134 electrocutions in 2015 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and its precursor. But there is still work to be done. You are in the field applying the requirements of NFPA 70E and regulations set by OSHA. You have seen what works and what doesn’t. You may have been injured and have idea on how to prevent it from happening to someone else. 
Submit a public input to the standard if you think it needs a change or to address an electrical safety issue not currently covered. NFPA has a process for you to do this for each of its standards. When you submit a public input, you will need to provide technical substantiation why the change is worthy of being made. “Because it seems to make sense to me” or “that is how I apply the requirement” are not sufficient. Make sure you know how to correctly apply the requirements because using the standard wrong does not warrant a change no matter how many people ignore the current requirements. Provide supporting documentation if available.To submit a public input using the online submission system, go directly to the NFPA 70E document information page. Once on the NFPA 70E page, select the link "Submit a Public Input" to begin the process. You will be asked to sign-in or create a free online account with NFPA before using this system. If you have any questions when using the system, a chat feature is available or contact us by email or phone at 1-800-344-3555.
Contrary to what you may think or have been told, it is you who plays a role in the standard’s development. It is not arbitrary by the technical committee. It is also not dictated by any specific interest since each NFPA committee can only have set number of manufacturers, installers, users, enforcers, etc. It takes many different views before a requirement is added or an old one changed. The public has a say in accepting the changes to an NFPA standard. If you really feel your change is important there are steps you can follow to make sure it has received due consideration and public review. However, for there to be improvements in safety there must be inputs submitted by you.  If you want to witness part of the process, please come to the first draft meeting in St. Louis during the week of August 11-18th, 2018. You will be able to find out more when the meeting notice information is posted under the “Next Edition” tab. It is not posted yet so please check back.
One thing to remember is that NFPA 70E is not a “how to” manual for specific work programs, procedures or techniques for your specific equipment. It is not a training manual for qualifying employees or for detailing a risk assessment procedure. There are millions of pieces of equipment out there. There are thousands of ways to conduct a risk assessment. Training is typically an individual thing. However, by providing the ground work and concepts for a safer electrical environment, you will be helping prevent injuries and fatalities throughout the world.
You have until June 27, 2018 to submit your idea. I look forward to seeing your input. 
For more information on 70E, read my entire 70E blog series on Xchange
Next time: You never forget your first brush with death.

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