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A Better Understanding of NFPA 70E: Part II – Be Vigilant When You Work in These Locations

Jun 19, 2023 | Public | 0 comments


Investigating several aspects of electrical fatalities can help employers move toward further decreasing them. The first thing being investigated in this series is where these fatalities occur. It is common for all employees to interact with electrical equipment during their workday, but it should be uncommon for an employee to be exposed to electrical hazards. However, fatalities have occurred at most work locations. The chart below shows the percentage of electrical fatalities by the workplace location, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. Unlike other BLS categories, there should not be much overlap when it comes to the location of a fatality, but there is some. I did not separate them out.

I could not find a BLS definition of home as a workplace, but I expect that it includes trades that go to a home to conduct work (HVAC, plumbing, roofing, painting, groundskeeping, etc.) as well as a person working from home. Surprisingly, a home accounts for the most fatalities due to exposure to electricity (32%). An industrial facility is second at 29%. Even though the number of employees working from home increased from 19% in 2019 to 39% in 2020, this does not appear to have skewed the numbers. For example, home as a workplace accounted for 28% of workplace exposure to electricity fatalities in 2011. Home improvement, remodeling, repair, and landscaping businesses are often underregulated. In addition, small companies may be exempt from some OSHA regulations. These could be contributing factors for these home fatalities. These fatalities might also be due to many trades incorrectly considering a home to not be a workplace covered by NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®, or considering household voltage to not be an electrical hazard.

With all construction occupations accounting for 48% of electrical fatalities, I expected residential (10%) and non-residential construction sites (12%)—road construction being an example of another type of construction site—to account for the most fatalities on this chart. Combined, these two account for 22% of all electrical fatalities which makes them third for fatalities.

The fourth location, streets and highways, was also unexpected. The fatalities (11%) are on par with non-residential construction sites (12%). Public buildings account for 9% of fatalities. Factories and farms are both slightly over 7% of electrical fatalities. Less than 1% of these fatalities occurred in office buildings.

I don’t post these blogs just provide you something to read. These blogs are so that you can adjust the way you think and work. Make sure that you are aware of the electrical hazards when working at any location. Take the steps required in NFPA 70E and your company’s electrical safety program to protect yourself from becoming a fatality. Do not let your guard down if you work at a home for any reason. That nearly one-third of exposure to electricity fatalities occur while working at a home is probably as big of a surprise to you as it was to me.

Important Notice: Any opinion expressed in this column (blog, article) is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the official position of NFPA or its Technical Committees. In addition, this piece is neither intended, nor should it be relied upon, to provide professional consultation or services.

NFPA Today – June 20, 2023

RELATED: Register for a July 11 webinar from NFPA® on enhancing electrical safety in the workplace

The post "A Better Understanding of NFPA 70E: Part II – Be Vigilant When You Work in These Locations" appeared first on NFPA Today Blogs


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