First of all, what is NFPA70-E? It’s a document that outlines requirements for safe work practices by reducing exposure to major electrical hazards. It was originally developed by the National Fire Protection Association at OSHA’s request, to help companies and employees avoid workplace injuries and fatalities due to shock, electrocution, arc flash, and arc blast.
NFPA70-E was just revised three years ago, but it’s updated every few years to try to make it easier to follow. We’re going to look at the most significant three changes in this post:
- New tables for guidance on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
- Hazard Risk Category 0 is eliminated.
- The Prohibited Approach Boundary is eliminated.
PPE Table Changes
The old table was overly detailed and slightly confusing. The new table was designed to simplify so that everyone understands the selection of proper PPE for all tasks. It combines the separate ac and dc tables now in use and makes them consistent. The table now refers to HRCs (Hazard Risk Categories) as PPE Categories.
HRC 0 Category Elimination
Although it will take some time for those of us who are familiar with the table to get used to HRCs being referred to as PPE Categories, the new term is actually more accurately descriptive. Once everyone gets used to the new term, it will be easier for workers to understand, particularly new employees. The 0 level is being removed because the new PPE table will only specify PPE for work within the Arc-Flash Boundary. If there is no arc-flash hazard, then no arc-flash PPE is required.
Prohibited Approach Boundary Elimination
The Limited Approach Boundary is the point at which unqualified persons cannot pass, and the committee felt that the Prohibited Approach Boundary essentially required the same action (to “watch out” for qualified persons, and no entry for unqualified persons). Since the two boundaries resulted in the same action, the committee decided to simplify and combine the two into one boundary term. The Restricted Approach Boundary remains, which is the point at which qualified persons have to use shock protective PPE.
There’s a lot of new terminology and definitions, all designed to make the table easier for workers and management to understand and follow. To see the full new NFPA70-E, check out the National Fire Protection Association website. If you have questions, feel free to give us a call at 864.905.7835.