NFPA 70E 2024 Revisions – Normal Operating Condition
The evolution of the Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, NFPA 70E, continues with the latest 2024 edition, which supersedes all previous versions even though we are still in 2023. As such, the NIETC Energized Electrical Work Sample Policy I maintain is in the process of being updated to reflect the significant changes within the new Standard. I expect to have this project completed and the 2024 EEW Policy ready for distribution by mid-October.
Fortunately, many of the revisions were minor in nature however, there are a few that your safety team and field personnel should be aware of. I will provide a overall summary of the EEW Policy revisions for inclusion in your 70E training programs when I distribute the final product. For this article, I want to focus on one such major, and arguably overdue, revision to the risk assessment process when employees are interacting with energized electrical equipment – E.G. switching of breakers, disconnects and MCC buckets, where conductors or circuit parts are not exposed but an increased likelihood of injury from an arc flash hazard may still exist.
In the 2015 edition, the NFPA 70E took a major shift in how stakeholders evaluate electrical risk. No longer was the focus on performing a shock and arc flash hazard analysis (those terms no longer exist) but performing shock and arc flash risk assessments.
It further provided clarity on the definition of risk which has since been defined as “A combination of the likelihood of occurrence of injury or damage to health and the severity of injury or damage to health that results from a hazard”.
To aid Qualified Workers in the assessment of potential arc flash exposures when interacting with energized equipment, the 2015 NFPA 70E provided guidance on what constitutes “Normal Operation” meaning if the equipment meets certain criteria, the risk of arc flash should be low enough to perform the switching, or other interactions, safely.
130.2(A)(4) Normal Operation of electrical equipment shall be permitted where all of the following conditions are satisfied:
(1) The equipment is properly installed
(2) The equipment is properly maintained (NFPA 70B)
(3) The equipment doors are closed and secured
(4) The equipment covers are in place and secured
(5) There is no evidence of impending failure
The 2018 edition added number (6) – The equipment is used in accordance with instructions included in the listing and labeling and in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.
And now, a 7th factor has been added to the list which is “The equipment is rated for the available fault current”.
This is a significant addition as it is very common to find older, existing electrical equipment which was likely installed per code and was rated for the available fault current at the time of initial installation, but has since been modified by either the utility, or the owner, to now be underrated which present a serious electrical hazard, both arc flash and blast.
If any of the 7 criteria cannot be met, the system should be de-energized and put into an electrical safe work condition before your teams work on them. If you have any questions about this, or the other revisions to the EEW Policy, please contact me.