For professionals who use the NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code®, and NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®, on a regular basis, you know the importance both play when it comes to the installation of safe electrical systems and the safety of workers. But did you know that NFPA 70B, Standard for Electrical Equipment Maintenance, also plays a key role in creating a safe working environment?
That was the focus of an early morning session today at the NFPA Conference & Expo here in Las Vegas. David Weszely and Jay Smith of the SEAM Group, a global leader in energized asset performance, said while changes to the latest edition of 70E are few, 70B is “new,” as it recently transitioned from a recommended practice to a standard, meaning it can now be both utilized and enforced in facilities.
According to Weszely, “As a standard, it means that the condition of maintenance for electrical equipment is recognized as a hazard. That’s important. If equipment is not maintained, you’re going to have equipment failure and people are going to get hurt. You start to see how everything is connected.”
NFPA commonly refers to the grouping of the NEC, 70E, and 70B, as “the cycle of safety.” NFPA senior electrical content specialist, Corey Hannahs, explains it this way in a blog: “While each piece of the cycle covers a specific area, they must be used in unison in order to provide the safest electrical system possible, being installed in the safest manner. NFPA 70B deals with electrical equipment maintenance, NFPA 70 stipulates the installation rules that are necessary for a proper installation, and NFPA 70E provides the safe work practices necessary to ensure that the installation and maintenance is done safely by the individuals performing the work. When the three are used simultaneously, and correctly, they provide for a complete electrical safety cycle. When one or more pieces are missing, it leaves the door open for catastrophic accidents—even death.”
During the hour-long session, Smith and Weszely touched on several topics related to workplace safety, including regulations set forth by OSHA, arc flash assessments, preventive maintenance, infrared inspections, and lockout/tagout procedures.
Both Weszely and Smith maintain that it takes everyone working together to create a safe working environment. Whether you’re a technician, operations leader, maintenance or safety professional, the health and safety of workers is everyone’s responsibility, regardless of your role. And training, they say, is the key to getting us all there.
While this particular session has now ended, the discussions around electrical safety are continuing. At this year’s Conference & Expo, we’ve put together an informative lineup of sessions and events that delve into a wide range of topics related to electrical safety.
This morning, Brandon Schroeder’s powerful session, “Believe in Safety: An Arc Flash Survivor’s Perspective” held the audience captive. Brandon has been a regular guest at our Conference. His personal story of surviving an arc flash explosion while on the job in 2011 is one that all electrical professionals should hear. With passion for the importance of investing in and believing in safety, Brandon started his own company dedicated to sharing the message of electrical workplace safety to hundreds of professionals and organizations across the country every year.
As electrical professionals, working safely allows you to return home unharmed after every shift. It’s up to everyone to apply the knowledge we’ve learned to our everyday tasks and to share this knowledge with others. At 2 p.m. PT today in Lagoon GH, join colleagues to learn more about OSHA’s electrical safety requirements in the workplace. If you manage a team, this session will explain how your company can help provide an electrical risk-free workplace for everyone involved in a project.
Looking to network with other electrical safety specialists? You’ll want to visit the Electrical Safety Pavilion located on the Expo floor adjacent to the Service Center area. Here you can meet with industry colleagues, check out products, and talk to other companies interested in electrical safety.
But the conversation doesn’t finish at C&E. On July 11, join NFPA for a special “How to Enhance Workplace Electrical Safety at Your Company” webinar that will take a closer look at the latest statistics on electrical injuries and deaths in the workplace, and include a discussion about why investing both time and money into safety training for employees is critical. Following the one-hour webinar, which starts at 1 p.m. EST, participants can take advantage of the number of NFPA resources and free information available. Register now and join us for this important conversation.
With so much at stake, it’s important that electrical professionals get the information, training, and resources they need to do their job well and with safety top of mind. Visit the C&E website or your NFPA C&E app to find more electrical safety-related sessions and events tailored for both your professional and individual needs.
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.
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