A better understanding of NFPA 70E: Training unqualified employees

Blog Post created by ccoache Employee on Apr 23, 2018


With so much emphasis on the need for a qualified person in NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace® many wonder why 110.2(A)(2) is a requirement. The title of NFPA 70E provides the answer. There is a potential for injury anytime an employee is interacting with electrical equipment, not just when they are working on electrical equipment. Examples of a person interacting with electrical equipment include a janitor opening a panel to turn on lights in the facility at the start of the day or a machine operator starting the equipment and performing his/her duties. Both must be trained in safety-related practices related to these tasks. Equipment must be under normal operating conditions before operating this equipment is considered to be “safe”. All employees should be trained to understand the normal operating conditions for the equipment they are interacting with. Without that understanding they could be put a risk of an electrical injury. Beyond that there are many general electrical safety topics that any employee should know.

Employees not required to be a qualified person by NFPA 70E must have the knowledge and skills necessary for their safety when interacting with electrical equipment. After understanding normal operating conditions for the equipment, the additional training is often common sense with regard to electrical safety. You may have employees using extension cords and portable equipment for example and they should trained in the use of such equipment. The following is a sampling of some basic, commonsense rules for avoiding electrical accidents and injuries that unqualified employees need to understand:


  • How to properly remove an attachment plug from a receptacle.
  • Never use damaged electrical equipment; damaged cables, cords, or connectors; or damaged receptacles.
  • Never reset a circuit breaker after an automatic trip but rather always notify a qualified person to determine the cause.
  • Be aware of the proper approach distance from overhead power lines.
  • Be aware of alerting techniques such as safety signs and tags, barricades, and warning attendants.
  • Never cross the arc-flash boundary.
  • Never cross the limited approach shock boundary unless advised and continuously escorted by a qualified person.
  • Never overload circuits, such as by running multiple appliances from a single outlet.
  • Never use electrical equipment if it is sparking, smoking, or otherwise appears to be malfunctioning.


You must determine the subject matter that your unqualified employees must know. In order to do so you must understand the duties they perform in the course of their day. Not all unqualified employees will need the same training and some employees may require a focused training program. Training will vary to deal with the specific equipment they interact with. There is nothing prohibiting comprehensive training for all employees. None of this training will make the employee qualified under NFPA 70E requirements but this training will affect electrical safety in your workplace.

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