Even though testing for the absence of voltage is a pretty straightforward process, it needs to be conducted with care in order to avoid shock, injury and even death. Follow these recommended steps prior to testing for voltage
1. VERIFY your test TOOL is reliably reading voltage -NFPA 70E requires that the “operation of the test instrument be verified on a known voltage source before and after an absence of voltage test is performed.” In other words, connect your meter to an outlet or a proving unit whose voltage you already know and make sure your meter reads the correct voltage. If it doesn’t, then you can’t rely on that meter to tell you whether voltage is present.
2. INSPECT your test TOOL
3. INSPECT your test LEADS–Lead damage can be hard to detect. Test leads can be easily damaged during use (or improper storage), so best safety practice is to replace them annually. They are expendable and low cost. Here are some questions to ask during the test:
4. WEAR PROPER PPE-Always wear PPE based on NFPA 70E ratings, until you have verified the target is de-energized. The greater the electrical hazard, the higher the personal protective equipment arc-rating must be to withstand an arc-flash incident. PPE that might be requiredincludes:
5. FOLLOW LOCKOUT/TAGOUT PROCEDURES-NFPA 70E requires those working on exposed conductors and circuit components operating at 50 volts or more to use lockout/tagout devices and procedures and be properly trained. The following steps make up part of the logout/tagout process:
Once you’ve gone through the Lockout/Tagout process, are wearing the proper PPE and you have the right (and inspected) voltage test instruments, you’re ready for the absence of voltage test.
For more information on Electrical Safety, see our online course available at the Fluke eLearning Center.