Ready for the NFPA 70E Standard 2021 Update?

woman working on electrical equipmentElectrical safety in the workplace is an essential priority for workplaces of all kinds. If your workplace involves heavy equipment, it’s especially important to combine well-maintained assets with effective and comprehensive employee training.

The requirements around electrical safety are maintained by the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) and have been created under the direction of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The regulations receive scheduled updates every three years, and the 2021 edition of the NFPA 70E standard is the latest version.

You should make sure your employee education options are up to date, so your personnel are equipped with the most recent set of best practices as defined by the NFPA and OSHA. Fortunately, courses on the 2021 version of the standard are already available, so the next time your team receives regularly scheduled NFPA training, it can reflect the present state of the rules.

What Are the General Contents of the NFPA 70E Standard?

The standards laid out by the NFPA cover areas such as recognizing the hazards posed by electricity and the ways to neutralize those risks. The document also explains how organizations should create and maintain their electrical safety programs, as well as approved ways to assess and control risks. There are sections on investigating accidents and auditing workplaces, as well, making sure there is no ambiguity around what makes a secure workplace for electrical work.

While the NFPA’s standard changes over time to reflect clarifications and the latest thinking on safety procedures, the basic best practices that make up the document remain consistent. For example, people working with electrical equipment need to understand safe approach boundaries and arc flash boundaries around their workspace. They also have to know the best types of personal protective equipment (PPE) for various tasks.

Considering the significant harm that can come from uncontrolled electrical power, supervisors and frontline employees alike need to have a consistent and comprehensive set of standards to work from when protecting themselves from electrical risk. The NFPA 70E regulations represent that centralized approach for countless organizations, and they can help you keep your electrical safety program compliant and up to date.

What’s New in the 2021 NFPA 70E Standard?

Updates to the NFPA’s document covered many of the essential topics. In the latest version of the standard, workers are introduced to a new way to calculate the radius of arc flash, namely the IEEE-1584-2018 method. There have also been clarifications made regarding acceptable types of PPE. As an example of the simple but significant changes included, “arc-resistant switchgear” references have been replaced with “arc-resistant equipment” to reflect the various types of gear used in electrical work.

One of the most notable additions to the NFPA 70E Standard 2021 Edition from a training perspective is the text now directly mentions new forms of training. As Electrical Contractor magazine pointed out, there is now an acknowledgement that classroom education on electrical safety and standards may involve interactive online coursework. In recent years, digital delivery has become more popular, and the regulations now reflect this fact.

Other additions to the text include explanatory notes underlining the importance of certain elements of safety. For instance, the definition of an “electrically safe work condition” received extra clarification. To create such an environment, personnel must be able to power down all equipment that workers may come into contact with. In case of an electrical emergency, this ability to cut the power may prove absolutely essential.

What Types of NFPA Training Are Available?

Due to the fact that the NFPA standards are so widely applicable to electrical work, it’s no surprise there are detailed courses ready to go reflecting the 2021 text. Rather than a single training module for your whole team, you can opt for a version split between managers and frontline electrical workers. This allows you to ensure every person in the work area knows their duties regarding electrical safety.

When it’s time to update your energized work training, you can get started in an efficient and affordable way — through video-based online training modules. These interactive digital courses, which are now acknowledged in the text of the NFPA standard itself as a potential element of instruction, are remarkably simple to implement. You can start your workers on these courses immediately, letting them log in from their own devices and gain the knowledge on a schedule that makes sense to them.

If there is one area of your work where training must be up to date and well-designed, it is employee safety. A single accident in the workplace could have a terrible human cost, so updating your protective measures to represent the latest industry thinking is always a good investment. Courses based on the NFPA 70E 2021 standards and arc flash safety fit that model.

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