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Does OSHA enforce NFPA 70E? No, but…
By W. Jon Wallace, CSP, MBA
When assisting clients with electrical safe work practices for employees I am continually asked – does OSHA enforce NFPA 70E® (Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®)? The short answer is no, because NFPA 70E® is not Incorporated by Reference in 29 CFR 1910.6. However, OSHA has several comparable standard requirements that are enforceable:
29 CFR 1910.132 (d)(1): Requires employers perform a personal protective equipment (PPE) hazard assessment to determine necessary PPE.
29 CFR 1910.269 (l)(8)(i): Requires estimate of incident energy be determined.
29 CFR 1910.332 (b) Content of training. (1): Practices addressed in this standard. Employees shall be trained in and familiar with the safety-related work practices required by 1910.331 through 1910.335 that pertain to their respective job assignments.
29 CFR 1910.333 (b)(2)(iv)(B): A qualified person shall use test equipment to test the circuit elements and electrical parts of equipment to which employees will be exposed and shall verify that the circuit elements and equipment parts are deenergized…”
29 CFR 1910.335 (a)(1)(i): Employees working in areas where there are potential electrical hazards shall use electrical protective equipment appropriate for the specific parts of the body for the work being performed.
29 CFR 1910.335 (a)(1)(iv): Requires employees wear nonconductive head protection whenever exposed to electric shock or burns due to contact with exposed energized parts.
29 CFR 1910.335 (a)(1)(v): Employees shall wear protective equipment for the eyes or face wherever there is danger of injury to the eyes or face from electric arcs or flashes or from flying objects resulting from an electrical explosion.
29 CFR 1910.335 (a)(2): Employees shall use insulated tools or handling equipment when working near exposed energized conductors or circuit parts.
29 CFR 1926.28 (a): Employer shall require employees wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) during construction work.
OSHA and NFPA 70E
Mike D’Aquino, U.S. Department of Labor Office of Public Affairs provided the following response to my questions concerning OSHA and NFPA 70E:
Fort Bragg OSHA Citation
One example of an OSHA citation related to electrical safe work practices is the proposed citation issued to Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina. There are several citations concerning OSHA’s Electrical Safe Work Practices standard:
Citation 1 Item 12
29 CFR 1910.332 (b)(1): “Employees were not trained in and familiar with the safety related work practices required by 29 CFR 1910.331 through 1910.335 that pertained to their respective job assignments:
Citation 1 Item 13
29 CFR 1910.333 (b)(2)(iv)(B): “Before circuits or equipment was worked as deenergized, a qualified person did not use test equipment to test the circuit parts and electrical parts of equipment to which employees would be exposed and did not verify the circuit elements and electrical parts of equipment to which employees would be exposed and did not verify that the circuit elements and equipment parts were deenergized:
Citation 1 item 14
29 CFR 1910.335 (a)(1)(i): “Employees working in areas where there were potential electrical hazards were not provided with and/or did not use, electrical protective equipment that was appropriate for the specific parts of the body to be protected and for the work to be performed:
Click here to see the full OSHA citation. Applicable electrical safe work practices violations are highlighted in yellow along with OSHA 1910 Subpart S electrical installation violations.
Although OSHA may not specifically enforce NFPA 70E, they can and have cited electrical safe work practice hazards with existing OSHA standards. The best practice is to protect your employees by performing an electric arc flash study; train qualified employees in electrical safe work practices including arc flash hazards; and providing arc rated clothing as well as voltage-rated gloves and tools.
If you have any questions concerning this article or other safety issues, please contact W. Jon Wallace, "The Safety Guru", at 919.933.5548 or by