Many facility managers may not know about or will often play possum (feign ignorance) when it comes to applying OSHA’s required Energized Electrical Work Permit (EEWP) when having work performed on live equipment.
Did you know that if a worker is injured or killed while working on energized equipment one of the first things an OSHA representative may ask to see upon inspection is a copy of Energized Electrical Work Permit for that particular job or task?
An electrical arc flash fatality occurs once every 28 hours in the United States alone and over 2,000 more workers are treated annually with injuries due to arc flash hazard incidents. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) between the years 2002 and 2007 1,213 workers were killed in the workplace and another 13,150 were severely injured all due to some sort of electrical related accident. Every one of these incidents was inspected by OSHA to determined whether or not the business or facility at fault is in compliance with OSHA and NFPA 70E regulations.
So, the point is, don’t get caught not using and mandating the use of an Energized Electrical Work Permit in your facility! OSHA’s fines associated with such an infraction could total over several hundred thousand dollars alone. Not to mention the legal costs associated with bodily injury or death should an incident occur. A sample EEWP and more information can be found in Annex J of the NFPA 70E standard.
So, what exactly is an Electrical Work Permit?
An EEWP (Energized Electrical Work Permit) is a document that clearly describes the following:
1. The circuit, equipment, and location of the job/task at hand.
2. The work that is to be done.
3. Justification of why the circuit or equipment cannot be de-energized or the work deferred until the next scheduled outage.
The EEWP document should also include a section for the Electrically Qualified Person to assess the task at hand and determine if the job can be done safely. In order to do this he or she must be able to provide the following information:
1. A detailed job description procedure to be used when performing the job/task at hand.
2. A description of the safe work practices to be employed.
3. Results of the Arc Flash Hazard Analysis and Shock Hazard Analysis.
4. Shock Protection Boundaries.
5. Necessary personal protective equipment to safely perform the assigned task.
6. Means employed to restrict the access of unqualified persons from the work area.
7. Evidence of completion of a Job Briefing including discussion of any job-related hazards.
The document shall include the signatures (and dates) of the following personnel:
1. Electrically Qualified Person performing the job/task at hand
2. Manufacturing Manager
3. Safety Manager
4. General Manager
5. Maintenance or Engineering Manager
6. Electrically Knowledgeable Person
When do I need to employ an EEWP?
Justification of work on or near electrically exposed parts that are more than 50 volts to ground must be put into an electrically safe work condition.
The only two exceptions are:
1. Situations where powering down equipment becomes an
Increased hazard: This is common in situations where a
medical facility may require uninterrupted electricity for life
support systems. It is also common for machinery to store
kinetic energy such as a compressed spring. This often will
make a machine more dangerous to the worker, the facility, and
the machine itself.
2. When it is simply infeasible to power down: This is only when
voltage reading and troubleshooting live components. Electrical
equipment troubleshooting obviously has to be done when
energized. OSHA recognizes and allows this without requiring
the application of an Energized Electrical Work Permit. However,
the ppe requirements posted on the arc flash warning label
for that particular piece of equipment must still be applied and
no physical work such as the addition or removal of components
can be done without first employing an EEWP.
The overall purpose of an Energized Electrical Work Permit is to ensure that the hazards of working on or near exposed live parts receive adequate consideration. It also informs both equipment owners, managers, and workers that work on energized equipment is going to be performed in the facility.
Using the permit also ensures the worker that the increased costs (including the risk of serious injury or death) associated with working on or near an exposed electrical conductor that is energized is justified.
Above all, the use and very existence of this permit can also sometimes help management understand that the work performed on or near exposed energized parts is simply not worth the risk.
How do I go about getting an Energized Electrical Work Permit for my facility?
NFPA 70E Standard Annex J