News / PF Connection

November 30, 2017 | For Physical Facilities staff

Message from the Physical Facilities Safety Committee

2018 NFPA 70E electrical safe work practice updates released

One constant that we have experienced in the electrical industry over the past decade is change. We have seen dramatic changes to our personal protective equipment, tools, codes and standards.

Speaking of those standards, are you ready for another change? For the past three years we have been working under the 2015 NFPA 70E standard, and now that we have figured out how to apply the revisions and updates from that edition, it is time for us to move on to the newly released 2018 edition!

Fortunately there are not too many major revisions that have taken place, but there are a few changes that we will need to note in our Purdue University Electrical Safety Program. As a result, the Electrical Safety Committee will be reviewing our existing Electrical Safety Program, and making the necessary updates during December, with the hope of having the 2018 NFPA 70E updates incorporated by January 2018.

What will some of the changes look like? Below is a synopsis of a few of the new adjustments:

  1. Risk Assessments will need to become an integral part of our daily work. Some departments have been conducting such assessments for a few years now, whereas others will need to begin to implement the completion of risk assessments into their standard operating procedures. The 2018 NFPA 70E now includes "human error" as a factor, and in Annex Q it outlines a variety of ways in which we can account for human error and minimize it.

  2. The hierarchy of control methods is another concept that the 2018 NFPA 70E is stressing. Again, some of our departments across campus have been utilizing some measure of these control methods for years, whereas other areas will need to begin such implementation. Ideally, we would begin with “Elimination” of the hazards, but if that is not possible, we need to utilize the tiered approach of:

    • "Substitution" - put equipment into an electrically safe work condition.

    • "Engineering Controls" - replace 120v circuitry with 24v circuitry.

    • "Awareness" - post signs alerting others of the presence of hazards.

    • "Administrative Controls"- implement training, procedures, job planning measures.

    • Personal Protective Equipment" - utilize shock and arc flash P.P.E.

What we essentially see is the 2018 NFPA 70E standard encouraging us all to take time ahead of our projects, to carefully analyze the recognized hazards at hand, and to determine how to address them. This isn’t always possible in emergency situations, but in most instances, we can plan our work carefully.

So this was a quick introduction into the new changes we will be implementing during the coming year. The next article will go more in-depth with examples and tools for implementing the new standard.

Questions may be directed to Jon Biggs, senior technical training and design specialist, at or (765) 494-9895.

Purdue University Physical Facilities, 1801 Newman Road, West Lafayette, IN 47906-4510, (765) 494-8000

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