Session Highlights Changes in NFPA 70E-2015

Worker training must be conducted at minimum every three years, although many companies do it more frequently, and employees now must be able to demonstrate skills and know-how.

ATLANTA -- Education comes in many forms at the 2015 National Safety Council Congress & Expo taking place here inside the Georgia World Congress Center: seminars; a wide range of technical sessions; live demos in the expo hall of fall protection and self-rescue equipment; and product managers' one-on-one discussions about the latest new products for tracking and managing PPE assets, latest-generation protective gloves, spill cleanup products, AED training devices, and much more. Brian McCauley, vice president of Salisbury Assessment Solutions (www.arcsafety.com), offered another type, a one-hour tutorial on arc flash and arc blast safety Sept. 29 during a pre-conference breakfast session.

He explained the causes of arc flashes--current overload, mechanical breakdown or failure, and accidental contact--and his presentation included photos of the painful, sometimes fatal injuries workers sustained in arc flash incidents. More than 2,000 severe electrical burns send U.S. workers to burn units every year, and the treatment cost for seriously injured workers can reach $10,000 a day, McCauley said.

He discussed relevant OSHA, NFPA, and ASTM standards. He explained what employers need to do in order to comply with them includes maintaining a written electrical safety program, providing electrical safety training to all employees, doing an arc flash assessment, and providing PPE.

"If anyone is likely to be working [on live electrical equipment], it is important that they understand those hazards," he said. "That's where the electrical arc flash hazard analysis comes in."

Work on the 2018 edition of 70E has already begun, McCauley said. He said the biggest changes in the 2015 edition include the four PPE categories, 1-4, with Hazard Risk Category 0 having been eliminated. The prohibited approach boundary has been eliminated, and the restricted approach boundary is now the one closest to the live equipment. Worker training must be conducted at minimum every three years, although many companies do it more frequently, and employees now must be able to demonstrate skills and know-how.

"A lot of work already is under way for 2018, crazy as it sounds, if you think about it: We're still two and a half years away," he said.

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