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NFPA 70E-2012 arrives in September

By Jack Smith

September 1, 2011

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) protects electrical workers.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) protects electrical workers.

The current version of NFPA 70E: Standards for Electrical Safety in the Workplace - the 2009 Edition - became effective September 5, 2008. NFPA 70E-2012 is scheduled to be out in September of 2011.

NFPA 70E-2009 has undergone major revisions. There were more than 500 proposals for changes to be made in the 2012 Edition, too many to be covered in this article. For details on the upcoming edition, visit The revised document was acted on by the NFPA Standards Council during the annual meeting, which was held in Boston, Massachusetts from June 12-15, 2011.

During the code revision process, NFPA-proposed documents are presented for action at the Association Technical Meeting only when an Amending Motion - Notice of Intent to Make a Motion (NITMAM) - has been certified by the Motions Committee as a proper amending motion. The Motions Committee reviewed the NITMAMs for the Annual 2011 Revision Cycle Documents and identified 16 documents to be presented for action at the 2011 Association Technical Meeting. NFPA 70E was one of them.

Certified Amending Motions Documents for NFPA 70E were presented for floor action at the Association Technical meeting, which was held on Wednesday, June 15, 2011. Of the 11 motions up for floor action, three failed and the remaining eight were not considered by the floor due to lack of a quorum. A listing of these motions can be found at ( According to NFPA, NFPA 70E will be forwarded directly to the Council without recommendations for any motions after Motion 70E-3, which means the standard is complete and will be issued as NFPA 70E-2012.

Many definitions have been deleted, changed, or replaced. Most of those that are not used in the standard are deleted. Those that required clarification were changed or replaced. For example, the flame resistant (FR) term becomes arc rated (AR).

Also, new definitions have been added. For example, Article 100 includes a definition for Incident Energy Analysis: “A study used to predict the incident energy of an arc flash for a specified set of conditions.”

Article 100 also includes modified definitions such as Working On: “Intentionally coming in contact with energized electrical conductors or circuit parts with the hands, feet, or other body parts, with tools, probes, or with test equipment, regardless of the personal protective equipment a person is wearing.” “Intentionally” is the added word.

The following table includes some of the changes to NFPA 70E-2012:

Article Topic Text, partial text, or description New or
110.6(D)(1)(f) Safety-Related
Work Practices
The employer shall determine, through regular supervision and through inspections conducted on at least an annual basis that each employee is complying with the safety-related work practices required by this standard. New
110.6(D)(3)(e) Safety-Related
Work Practices
Retraining shall be performed at intervals not to exceed three years. New
110.7(E) Electrical Safety Program Procedures An electrical safety program shall identify the procedures for working within the limited approach boundary and for working within the arc flash boundary of energized electrical conductors and circuit parts operating at 50 volts or more or where an electrical hazard exists before work is started. Modified (added text in italics, deleted text crossed out)
110.7(F) Hazard/Risk Evaluation Procedure An electrical safety program shall identify a hazard/risk evaluation procedure to be used before work is started within the Limited Approach boundary and before work is started within the arc flash boundary of energized electrical conductors and circuit parts operating at 50 volts or more or where an electrical hazard exists. Modified (added text in italics)
110.9(B)(3)(d) Hazard/Risk Evaluation Procedure Informational Note: The hazard/risk evaluation procedure could also include identifying when the use of portable tools and equipment powered by sources other than 120 volts ac such as batteries, air, hydraulics, etc. should be used to minimize the potential for injury from electrical hazards for tasks performed in conductive or wet locations. New
110.10 Underground Electrical Lines and Equipment Before excavation starts and where there exists reasonable possibility of contacting electrical or utility lines or equipment, the employer shall take the necessary steps to contact the appropriate owners or authorities to identify and mark the location of the electrical lines or equipment. A hazard analysis shall be performed to identify the appropriate safe work practices that shall be utilized during the excavation. New
120.2(C)(2) Form of Control Three Two forms of hazardous electrical energy control shall be permitted: individual employee control, simple lockout/tagout, and complex lockout/tagout. For the individual employee control and the simple lockout/tagout, the qualified person shall be in charge. For the complex lockout/tagout, the person in charge shall have overall responsibility. Modified (deleted text crossed out)
120.2(F)(2)(g) Grounding Grounding requirements for the circuit shall be established, including whether the temporary protective grounding equipment grounds shall be installed for the duration of the task or temporarily are established by the procedure. Modified (added text in italics, deleted text crossed out)
130.1(A) Electrically-Safe Work Condition Energized electrical conductors and circuit parts to which an employee might be exposed shall be put into an electrically safe work condition before an employee works within the Limited Approach Boundary of those conductors or parts. if any of the conditions in 130.1(A)(1) through 130.1(A)(3) exist:
(1) The employee is within the Limited Approach Boundary.
(2) The employee is within the Arc Flash Boundary.
(3) The employee interacts with equipment where conductors or circuit parts are not exposed, but an increased risk of arc flash hazard exists.
Informational Note: See definition of arc flash hazard in Article 100.
Modified (added text in italics, deleted text crossed out)
130.3(C) Equipment Labeling Electrical equipment such as switchboards, panelboards, industrial control panels, meter socket enclosures and motor control centers that are likely to require examination, adjustment, servicing or maintenance while energized shall be field marked with a label containing all the following information:
(1) Only one of the following:
   a. Available incident energy
   b. Minimum arc rating of clothing
(2) Arc Flash Boundary
(3) Nominal system voltage
(4) Equipment identification
(5) Date of arc flash hazard analysis
Modified (added text
in italics)
130.6(G)   Doors, hinged panels, and the like shall be secured to prevent their swinging into an employee and causing the employee to contact exposed energized electrical conductors or circuit parts rated at 50 volts or more or where an electrical hazard exists if movement of the door, hinged panel, and the like is likely to create a hazard. New
130.7(C)(12) PPE Garments that are not arc-rated shall not be permitted to be used to increase the arc rating of a clothing system. New

The intention of NFPA 70E is to protect workers from electric shock and arc flash hazards. Count on the many volunteer committee members - industry leaders with a wide range of professional expertise - to continue the revision process to ensure workers’ safety.