NFPA 70E is a voluntary standard developed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the world's leading advocate of fire prevention and an authoritative source on public safety. NFPA develops, publishes, and disseminates more than 300 consensus codes and standards intended to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other risks.
The 70E standard addresses electrical hazards in the workplace and supplements the National Electric Code (NEC) by focusing on protecting the worker from common electrical hazards. Serious injuries, resulting from voltages far below those experienced by electric utilities, occur daily as workers install, maintain, and repair energized systems. The objective of this standard is to provide protection to at risk workers based on the potential energy to which they could be exposed. 70E provides multiple methods by which the employer can calculate or estimate the hazard or risk.
NFPA 70E requires that employees wear proper arc-rated Flame Resistant (FR) clothing whenever there is possible exposure to an arc flash above the threshold incident-energy level for a second degree burn. Such FR protective apparel must be rated for protection from electric arcs so they can be properly matched to the appropriate hazard levels. This arc rating, or ATPV, appears on the labeling of all FR protective apparel for easy referencing. Matching the arc rating of the Flame Resistant apparel with the hazard rating maximizes worker protection against the chance of burn injury or death.
UniFirst offers Armorex FR® work pants, and coveralls that meet NFPA 70E PPE Categories 1 and 2 as single layer garments.
Purchase the 2015 edition of NFPA 70E: Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace.
NFPA 70E Compliance (National Consensus Standard)
To reach the goal of establishing safety and health standards, OSHA often turns to national consensus standards like NFPA 70E. A national consensus standard is “a standard that is developed by the same persons it affects and then is adopted by a nationally recognized organization.” [29 CFR 1910.2(g)]. Consensus standards are incorporated by reference in many OSHA regulations. When standards are identified as national consensus by OSHA they carry the same kind of “weight” as any other OSHA regulation. Use of the word “shall” or similar language generally represents mandatory requirements that an employer must follow.
General areas for compliance with NFPA 70E include:
- Hazard Risk Evaluation
- Establishing Safe Work Conditions
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Selection
- Safety Training and Documentation
- Implementation and Documentation of Electrical Safety Program
PPE Category is used to determine the necessary arc rating of a garment worn during a given job task. Wearing multiple layers of clothing may be required to obtain the necessary rating required for your job. However, these multiple layers must have been tested together and rated as a unit to reach the targeted arc thermal protection level and not by merely adding up individual garment arc ratings. Only your employer can determine the required level of protection required for your job.
NFPA has identified four FR hazardous risk category levels, which are numbered by severity from 1 to 4.
|PPE Category||Risk Assessment Clothing Description||Required Minimum ARC
Rating of PPE (ATPV)
|1||Arc-rated FR shirt and FR pants |
or FR coverall (1 layer)
|2||Arc-rated FR shirt and FR pants |
or FR coverall (1 or 2 layers)
|3||Arc-rated FR shirt and FR pants or FR coverall, and arc flash suit selected so that the system arc rating meets the required minimum (2 or 3 layers)||25|
|4||Arc-rated FR shirt and FR pants or FR coverall, and arc flash suit selected so that the system arc rating meets the required minimum (3 or 4 layers)||40|
Why Comply with NFPA 70E?
Because protecting workers is the right thing to do. And because compliance can help limit your company's potential liability associated with costly accidents. You'll be sending the right safety message to all employees and they will appreciate your concern for their well-being. And although this is a “voluntary” standard, the relationship between the OSHA Regulations and NFPA 70E has been clearly delineated by the U.S. Department of Labor:
“…the consensus standard may be used as evidence of hazard recognition and the availability of feasible means of abatement. The general duty clause, Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act, is violated if an employer has failed to furnish a workplace that is free from recognized hazards causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm. The general duty clause is used where there is no standard that applies to the particular hazards involved.”