NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - 51

and operations and maintenance.
At the moment, it is a short chapter.
But its intent is to make anyone associated with fire alarms, emergency
communications, and mass notification systems aware of the threat of a
cyberattack, and to ensure that hackers or any other bad actors cannot use
these systems as entry points to building network systems.
Wayne D. Moore is vice president at Jensen
Hughes. NFPA members and AHJs can use the
Technical Questions tab to post queries on NFPA 72
at nfpa.org/72.

NFPA 70 + 70E

Electrical Safety

Evaluating a
request for
energized work
By Derek Vigstol
very day, thousands of

E

electrical workers and
service technicians arrive
at work sites arond the
world to perform tasks on
equipment that poses significant electrical hazards. How those hazards are
addressed can be the difference between
going home at the end of the day or
going to the hospital.
Turning off the power isn't always
the simplest solution-and this is where
things can get a little mixed up.
Sometimes the power must be on
to do the work. It may be difficult or
impossible to physically de-energize
the equipment. There are instances
where turning the power off would
place even more lives at risk or create
a new hazard that would place the
employee in even more danger. The
business owner might insist on keeping
the power on for a number of reasons,
usually due to production. How is an
employee supposed to keep all of this
straight? When should the equipment
be placed in an electrically safe work
condition, and when should energized
work be performed?

NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical
Safety in the Workplace®, contains
information workers need to make
this decision. Additionally, the NFPA
70E Handbook contains a flowchart in
Exhibit 130.1 that walks an employee
through the decision-making process
based on the requirements of NFPA
70E. Since May is Electrical Safety
Month and 70E is nearing the end of
the 2021 revision cycle, it seems like a
good time to look at how this flowchart
can help workers make the safest decisions on performing electrical work.
The first thing to analyze is the
condition of the equipment. Is it in
normal operating condition? This
means it was properly installed, has
been properly maintained, all of
the covers and doors are closed and
secured properly, is being used as
intended by the manufacturer, and
there is no evidence of impending
failure. If any of these are not satisfied, interaction with the equipment
is not permitted and we must start
the risk assessment process to identify what the risk to the employee is
and what measures must be taken to
protect the employee. If all the conditions are met, and the interaction is
considered part of the normal function
of the equipment and that is all the
task requires, then normal operation of
that equipment is permitted. For example, operation of the on/off feature on
a circuit breaker is normal operation,
while racking the same circuit breaker
out or in is not.
The next question we must ask is
whether an electrically safe work condition (ESWC) is required. There are two
conditions that require equipment to
be placed in an ESWC: the employee is
within the limited approach boundary,
and interaction with the equipment
poses an increased likelihood of injury
due to arc flash. The limited approach
boundary is the distance from exposed
energized parts at which a shock
hazard exists, and is based on the voltage and whether or not the energized
parts are moveable.
This boundary can be determined
from Tables 130.4(D)(a) and (b) depending on whether the voltage is ac or dc.

The increased likelihood of injury due
to arc flash takes a bit more investigation to rule out. First, Table 130.5(C)
provides a list of tasks to be performed
and, based on the condition of the equipment, states whether or not an arc flash
is likely to happen. This still doesn't
equate to injury from arc flash, but offers
a good indication of whether additional
protective measures, such as personal
protective equipment (PPE), are needed
to protect the employee. If the additional
measures still expose the employee to
the hazard, there remains an increased
likelihood of injury from the arc flash
hazard and the equipment must be
de-energized and placed in an ESWC.
However, what if the employee
is being told de-energization is not
an option? Is this request for energized work legitimate? NFPA 70E lists
four conditions that permit energized
work. If the equipment is operating at under 50 volts or is in a normal
operating condition and the task is
considered normal operation, the risk
to the employee is minimal and energized work is permitted. However,
sometimes we simply can't turn it off.
Troubleshooting and measurements
are often tasks that require energization and are therefore justified. Lastly,
if de-energization presents a greater
hazard or an increased risk to the
employee and there is no way to avoid
this additional danger with a temporary solution, then the work can be
performed energized. However, steps
must still be taken to mitigate the risk
to the employee.
If the purpose of NFPA 70E is to
provide a practical and safe working area for employees relative to the
hazards arising from the use of electricity, following this decision process can
help keep things straight. The emphasis must be placed on prioritizing the
establishment of an electrically safe
work condition; only after all other
options have been ruled out can we ask
whether it is justified to complete the
task in an energized state.
Derek Vigstol is an NFPA technical lead, Electrical
Tech Services. NFPA members and AHJs can use the
Technical Questions tab to post queries on NFPA 70
at nfpa.org/70next.

N F PA . O R G / J O U R N A L * NFPA JOURNAL

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NFPA Journal - May/June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of NFPA Journal - May/June 2020

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NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - Cover3
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