The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) details how to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) regulation, 29 CFR 1910.333(a), through the NFPA 70E standard. Applying these electrical safety standards in the workplace protects workers who may be exposed to arc flash or other electrical hazards.
According to the NFPA 70E standard, there are six primary responsibilities that facilities must meet. These responsibilities include:
Training for employees
Written safety program in place that is actionable
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) available for employees
Arc flash hazard degree calculations
Properly labeled equipment
Who is responsible for equipment labeling?
Arc flash labeling is the responsibility of the employer, not the manufacturer or installer of the equipment. Employees are responsible for complying with safety-related work practices and procedures provided by the employer.
What equipment requires an arc flash label?
According to NFPA 70E, labeling is required for any piece of electrical equipment that may need examination, adjustment, service or maintenance while energized. These labels communicate the electrical hazards an employee may be exposed to, including the potential for an arc flash incident.
Examples of where to put your arc flash labels to stay compliant
Label where un-terminated wires or cables needing superior abrasion and chemical resistance exist.
Label where terminated or unterminated cables and wires that may be curved or become curved exist.
Industrial Control Panels
Label where terminated cables or wires that may need additional abrasion or chemical resistance exist.
Motor Control Centers
Label where large amounts of data needs to be communicated in a small area, such as fiber optic cables.
Label where large amounts of voltage exist, either on the ground or mounted up high in a facility.
Label where multi-conductor cables or bundled wires/cables exist.
Old Label Versions. The recent update allows labels applied prior to the effective date of this edition of the standard to be acceptable if they complied with the requirements for equipment labeling in the standard in effect at the time the labels were applied (unless changes in electrical distribution system render the label inaccurate).
Document and Review. Document the method of calculating and the data to support the information for the label and review for accuracy at intervals not to exceed 5 years. Where the review of the data identifies a change that renders the label inaccurate, the label shall be updated.
The owner of the electrical equipment shall be responsible for the documentation, installation and maintenance of the marked label.
Now that you’re familiar with the equipment that needs labeling, here are the elements you will need to include in your arc flash labels.
Danger or Warning header.
A common guideline is to use the "Danger" header when the voltage is over 600 or when the incident energy is over 40 cal/cm2. If it is less than this threshold, an orange "Warning" header is typically used.
“Incident Energy at” is the corresponding working distance.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) defines this as “the dimension between the possible arc point and the head and body of the worker positioned in place to perform the assigned task.”
“Min. Arc Rating” is the incident energy.
A measurement in calories/cm2 or Joules/cm2 of thermal energy at a working distance from an arc fault.
Arc Flash Boundary.
This is the shortest distance at which a person working at the time of an arc-flash may receive permanent injury (the onset of a second degree burn or worse) if not properly protected by flame-resistant (FR) clothing.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Each hazard risk category requires a different level of protection. Categories range from 1 to 4. Category “0” was removed in the NFPA 70E 2015 Changes.
“Limited Approach” and “Restricted Approach” fields are related Shock Hazard Approach Boundaries.
Retraining should occur every 3 years, and employees must also be retrained if their job duties change, or when procedures are not being followed (as observed by annual inspections or supervision).
Training should include:
Specific hazards associated with electrical energy
Special precautionary techniques and safety related work practices
PPE, insulating and shielding materials, insulated tools and test equipment
Emergency response and AED training
Skills and techniques to distinguish energized parts determine nominal voltages
Decision making process and ability to perform job tasks
Training sessions must be documented and verified at least annually, and participants must be able to demonstrate knowledge. To help keep your workplace safe and compliant, Brady Safety offers a custom approach to Arc Flash Training.
NFPA 70E 2021 update
The standard gets updated every three years. Here’s what’s new in 2021.
The NFPA 70E standard was updated for 2021, including adding detail to term definitions, clarifying requirements and reorganizing information for a more logical progression. The most notable changes are:
Extra emphasis on the employer's responsibility to create an electrically safe work condition
Stressing that doing energized work with PPE should be a last resort.
Key updates to terms
Electrically safe work condition: Note added to clarify that an electrically safe work condition is not a procedure, but a state where all hazardous electrical conductors or circuit parts to which a worker might be exposed are de-energized.
Fault current: Note added to clarify that available fault current varies by location in the circuit.
Shock hazard: Updated to indicate that parts must be exposed to be a hazard.
Other notable changes to NFPA 70E for 2021
Calls out the importance of de-energizing as a requirement of an Electrical Safety Program. Programs now must include a policy on establishing an electrically safe work condition.
Clarifies that the lockout or tagout program must be either part of the electrical safety program, or must reference the lockout or tagout program.
Confirms that electrical safety is based on all equipment being used as intended by the manufacturer.
Revises requirements of a lockout device to align with OSHA 1910.333(b)(2)(iii)(E).
Includes new or revised tables for estimating the likelihood of occurrence of an arc flash incident and guidelines around rubber insulating gloves, tools and equipment.
Clarifies language around the use of barriers or barricades.
Adds new information on safety-related requirements for capacitors.