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Arguing the “Myths” of an Electrical Arc Flash Hazard Analysis…

One very common “Myth” in dealing with Maintenance and Safety Managers across the country, regarding arc flash hazard analysis, is the attempt to rely on the basic PPE matrix chart in the NFPA 70e publication. First, we need to understand that the intent of the chart, as stated clearly in the text, is that it to be used in lieu off and only when an Arc Flash Hazard Analysis (Arc Flash Risk Assessment) has not been made to determine the incident energy at the point in question. In other words, Use the matrix only if you “Must” work in a panel before a proper arc flash analysis has been conducted. Equipment owners and employers must provide the information necessary to determine the correct PPE or personal protection equipment that a worker must wear or use.

This miss- conception, while dangerous and life threatening as it may be, is still argued almost every day between those safety and maintenance people who understand the regulations, and those likewise who just browse thru the publication, bouncing from section to section, looking for a “way out” of doing what is ultimately “Right” to protect the lives of those who are charged with working on or around those potent electrical panels.

I have had the opportunity to stand face to face with many Safety and Maintenance Managers throughout the nation and around the world, who from many different industries, have not been afforded the time to learn, nor, the time to seek updates on these types of regulations. In almost every case, where our meeting and conversation starts with a visit and citation from the friendly O.S.H.A. accident investigator, or inspector, or, by the requirements passed down through some “Corporate” mandated memo, these managers need help to decipher the miles of “Safety Ease” piled into OSHA 1910 or NFPA 70e. Relying on a solid consultant to give the proper advice is key.

Dave Carpenter BSEE

Electrical Engineer

Arc Flash Engineering

What Are Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters?

The Use of GFCI’s is now required by OSHA and NFPA 70E

Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) is a mechanism that stops the current flow to an electrical device within a few milliseconds of when current begins to flow where it should not, such as through a human body. Also known as a residual-current device (RCD) in some areas.
GFCI’s are intended to prevent electrocution accidents. This type of accident is common where electrical tools or equipment are being used around water or environments where there is a lot of moisture.
GFCI’s are designed to interrupt the leak of an electrical current, which can often be smaller than the current needed to operate commonly used electrical tools and devices. The GFCI device stops a harmful level of electricity from flowing through the body of a person who comes in contact with the energized part of an electrical circuit.

Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI)

GFCI’s work by measuring the steady current used to operate a particular tool or device. If an inbalance occurs between the line and neutral conductors of more than about .005 amperes, then the circuit will instantly activate, open the circuit and the tool or device will be de-energized.

GFCI RecepticleThe use of GFCI’s is required by OSHA and NFPA (NFPA 70E 2012 Edition Section 110.4(C)) where the use of a permanently installed GFCI receptacle in a premise wiring system is not available. This situation is most common when a corded electrical tool or device is being used outdoors and a GFCI receptacle that is wired into the electrical system of a structure is not available.
The application of GFCI receptacles in residential homes has been an NFPA requirement since the early 1970’s. GFCI receptacles are commonly used in kitchens, bathrooms, and utility rooms. The GFCI receptacle usually has a red “reset” button and a black “test” button. Not all premises provide Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter receptacles so, ITU highly recommends that a portable GFCI unit be added to your tool box and as a part of your personal protection equipment (PPE) kit.

Improper power tool storage

Improper power tool storage and care will result in damage to the units electrical power cord. This causes a leak in the electrcial current which drastically increases the posibilty of electrocution.

Faulty electrical tools, devices, and extension cords injure or kill numerous workers annually. Don’t become a statistic! Portable GFCI units are relatively inexpensive, come in all shapes, sizes, and lengths and are available at most home improvement and hardware stores.

The risk of an electrical worker being injured or killed by electrocution or an electrical arc blast sometime in his or her career is already extremely high. So minimize the risk and follow the rules by utilizing a GFCI portable outlet device for every job.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters save lives! The risk of an electrical worker being injured or killed by electrocution or an electrical arc blast sometime in his or her career is already extremely high. So minimize the risk and follow the rules by utilizing a GFCI portable outlet device for every job.

NFPA Journal

The Size of your Electrical Panels Doesn’t Matter! They all can be Dangerous.

Frog Arc FlashPeople commonly make the mistake of assuming if something is small it is less dangerous or perhaps not dangerous at all. This assumption is often correct but occasionally it can be very deadly.

For instance: The Dart frog. This beautiful and rare little frog only weighs a few grams and is full grown at about 5 centimetres. Not a very intimidating little fellow huh? Certainly not very dangerous…..Or is he?

Give this little guy just a tiny poke with your bare finger and he can easily take your life in just a matter of minutes. He secretes, through his skin, one of the most deadly neurotoxins in the world. Just a pin head size drop (or 2 micrograms) of his toxin can shut down your nervous system causing your heart to stop functioning instantly.
So, a little advice from the guys at Arc Flash Engineering: don’t go handling or poking around this little guy unless you’re wearing the proper gloves or “PPE” (Personal Protection Equipment).
Fortunately for you, you don’t have to worry about coming across any Dart frogs unless of course you plan on visiting the remote jungles of South America. However, deadlier threats do exist in our daily lives and we often overlook them, take them for granted, or simply don’t know they even exist.

Take Electricity for example. Electricity is managed through electrical panels which are found virtually everywhere. Though when installed correctly, properly maintained, and treated with respect electrical panels pose very little threat. However, regardless of the size, if you go poking around in an electrical panel you can easily cause an electrical arc flash which can kill you faster than the toxin of any frog or anything on earth for that matter. So, just as in the case of touching the Dart frog, you must have on the proper gloves and PPE or personal protection equipment (required by OSHA) before you go poking around in electrical panels.

An electrical accident such as an arc flash or arc blast can result in a fiery explosion so hot that it expands the copper fuses in an electrical panel 67,000 times larger then their actual size creating devastating energy blast and 700 mile an hour shrapnel. The core of the blast can reach over 35,000 degrees fahrenheit – roughly four times hotter than the surface of the sun.

The application of PPE greatly reduces the risk of death by protecting your entire body. PPE is divided into categories 1 through 4. Category 1 would be the minimal amount of protection required and category 4 would be the heaviest amount of protection required. If the correct category of PPE is not applied then you are still at a high risk of injury or death should an electrical incident occur.

Smaller electrical panel requires a higher level of arc flash rated PPE.

Smaller panel (A) requires the use of PPE category level 4. Larger panel (B) only requires the use of category 2 PPE.

Just because panel (A) is small (just like our little frog) does not mean that it is less dangerous. The assumption that it is smaller therefore must carry less electricity, lower voltage, or less amperage can be deadly. Unfortunately, the panels (shown above) are not even properly labeled, which gives the maintenance worker no idea what level of PPE he or she needs when working on or around these electrical panels. Nor is their any safe approach boundary information posted.

The Dart frog gives you fare warning that he is dangerous with his flashy bright colors. Unfortunately, the electrical panels in many facilities around the country don’t offer this type of warning. A properly labeled electrical panel will have a 4”x 6” arc flash warning label posted very clearly in bright orange and white warning you of the danger and providing you with the necessary PPE and approach boundary information.

The use of proper warning labels is required by OSHA and NFPA 70E. So, if your facility has electrical panels without the bright orange warning label with all the required information then your business or facility is not in compliance and could be subject to heavy fines.

Properly labeled electrical panels by Arc Flash Engineering

Properly labeled electrical panels by Arc Flash Engineering.

NFPA 70E 2009 requires that one of two specific pieces of information appear on arc flash warning labels: available incident energy or required level of PPE. These values are determined by an arc flash hazard analysis, and need to be calculated separately for each piece of equipment labeled.

When OSHA does a safety audit on a facility, company, or business one of the first things they check is to see if the electrical panels are properly labeled with OSHA compliant arc flash warning labels.

Arc Flash Warning Label

If your facilities arc flash warning labels don’t look like this (4”x6”) then your facility may not be in compliance with OSHA and NFPA.

There are over 340 electrocution and arc flash deaths in the U.S. per year (one death every 28 hours) and arc flash injuries occur 1000 times more often then shark attacks. This makes electrical related accidents the 4th highest cause of deaths in the workplace.

Don’t let one of your employees or coworkers become another statistic.

Find out how you can make your business or facility safe and in compliance with OSHA and NFPA 70E Call Arc Flash Engineering today Toll Free#: 800-381-4389 or click here.

Steel plant electrician burned in Arc Flash

Employee Burned in Arc Flash… Steel plant failed to provide and ensure the use of proper Arc Flash PPE. Proposed penalty: $147,000!

An electric technician at the Republic Steel Corp. steel manufacturing plant in Buffalo New York was removing wiring from a fan motor in an overhead crane on October 16, 2014, when an ungrounded electrical conductor touched a grounded surface causing an arc flash. The electric technician sustained third degree burns on her hand and first degree burns on her face.

An investigation by the Buffalo Area Office of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that Republic Steel failed to provide and ensure the use of effective face and hand protection by its employees.

“These injuries were avoidable. Republic Steel has a responsibility to make sure that its electric technicians are properly trained, equipped with and using personal protective equipment to protect from arc flash. In this case, that would include a face shield and rubber insulating gloves. The company should be especially aware of this, since OSHA cited Republic Steel earlier in 2014 for similar hazards at its Lorain, Ohio, facility,” said Michael Scime, OSHA’s area director in Buffalo.

As a result of these conditions, OSHA cited Republic Steel for two repeat violations, with proposed penalties of $70,000 each for the lack of hand and face protection. The steel manufacturer was also cited for one serious violation, with a $7,000 fine, for failing to protect employees against contact with energized electrical equipment. Total proposed penalties are $147,000.

The citations can be viewed here*.

Republic Steel has contested its citations and proposed penalties to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit

Corn flour mill cited for exposing workers to electric shock hazards

Corn flour mill cited for exposing workers to explosion and electric shock hazards.

Minsa Corp. in Muleshoe, Texas, cited for 33 serious violations and $151,200 in fines

LUBBOCK, Texas – The accumulation of combustible grain dust requires more than just wiping surfaces to eliminate them. Grain dust accumulation, in the right combination of particle size, air and an ignition source, can expose workers to possible explosions or combustible dust hazards, according to citations issued to Minsa Corp. by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA cited the employer for 33 serious violations, including exposing workers to electric shock, with a proposed penalty totaling $151,200.

“Dust accumulation exists in many industries including flour, feed, grain and sugar, requiring these employers to implement a standard housekeeping policy,” said Elizabeth Linda Routh, OSHA’s area director in Lubbock. “It is the employer’s responsibility to find and fix hazards that could harm workers.”

Internal parts of electrical equipment were contaminated with foreign materials, unused openings in a breaker box were not properly closed and an uncovered junction box exposed workers to live electrical parts. These are just a few of the serious electrical violations. Additional serious violations include workers being exposed to dangerous machinery, blocked emergency exit routes and falls from a platform lacking a guardrail. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The citations can be viewed at:*.

Minsa, which employs 75 workers at the Muleshoe, Texas, location, has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s Lubbock District Office at 806-472-7681.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.


Media Contacts:

Diana Petterson, 972-850-4710,
Juan Rodriguez, 972-850-4709,

Release Number: 14-2301-DAL

2015 NFPA 70E Changes that WILL Effect Your Business

NFPA 70E is recognized by OSHA as the Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace. It explains in detail steps that should be taken to ensure electrical workers can do their jobs safely and also addresses how to deal with electrical hazards as safely as possible while on the job.

2015 NFPA 70E UpdateAs technology improves and production demand grows, safety codes must be updated to meet the ever evolving changes in the workplace. NFPA recognizes these changes and adjusts or adds regulations to  its’ standard for electrical safety in the workplace every three years.

The next edition (2015 NFPA 70E Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace) is set to come out in 2015. The anticipated changes include:

  • New and improved (easier to understand) Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) application tables.
  • The elimination of Hazard Risk Category “0?.
  • The elimination of Prohibited Approach Boundaries.

Changes to the PPE Tables:

The new tables are designed to simplify the selection Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for all tasks. It combines the separate ac and dc tables now in use and makes them consistent, improving usability. The table will no longer refer to Hazard Risk Categories but PPE Categories, which is more in line with their purpose.

When using the new table, the type of equipment is selected first. If it falls below the limits given, the Arc Flash PPE Category is chosen from a separate table. If not, an arc flash study must be performed to determine what PPE is needed. In conjunction with using the table, workers should establish that four key conditions are met, no matter what task is to be performed:

  • The equipment is properly installed.
  • The equipment is properly maintained.
  • Covers for all other equipment are in place and secured.
  • There is no evidence of impending failure.

The elimination of Hazard Risk Category “0?

As of 2015, Hazard Risk Categories will be referred to as “PPE Categories.” The “0? level is no longer necessary as the new PPE table will only specify PPE for work within the Arc-Flash Boundary. The committee feels that if there is no arc-flash hazard, then no arc-flash PPE should be worn and it is therefore not necessary on a table devoted to such PPE.

The elimination of the Prohibited Approach Boundary

The NFPA 70E committee looked at the boundaries for shock and decided that a listed boundary should trigger an action. Unlike the Limited Approach Boundary, which unqualified persons cannot pass, or the Restricted Approach Boundary, the point at which qualified persons have to use shock protective PPE, the Prohibited Approach Boundary is more of a “watch out” boundary that does not require any different action than the Limited Approach Boundary.

New codes mean BIG changes to Arc Flash Warning Labels

NEC (National Electrical Code) mandates that hazardous equipment installed or modified after 2002 be required to carry an arc flash warning label. NEC 110.16 specifically mentions “switchboards, panel boards, industrial control panels, and motor control centers that … are likely to require examination, adjustment, servicing, or maintenance while energized.”
NFPA 70E 2009 (National Fire Protection Agency) requires that one of two specific pieces of information appear on arc flash warning labels: available incident energy or required level of PPE (personal protection equipment). These values are determined by an arc flash hazard analysis (available through ITU), and need to be calculated separately for each piece of equipment labeled.
NFPA 70E also states that arc flash warning labels must be the proper size (at least 4”x 6”), ANSI Z535 approved, and be placed so as to be visible to personnel before beginning maintenance or inspection.
The details of the three new additions: available fault current, the date the arc fault calculation was performed, and label durability specifications are highlighted below.

NEC 2011 makes changes to the Arc Flash Warning LabelA. These durable UV and chemical resistant 3.2 mil laminated vinyl labels include a High-Tack adhesive and rounded corners to prevent peeling. The life span of these labels is 5 years in normal conditions and are capable of withstanding temperatures beyond 165 °F and -50 °F. Sufficient label durability is now a requirement as of the November 2011 NEC (National Electrical Code) update and ITU’s arc flash warning labels more than exceed this requirement.
B. Flash Hazard Category: Represents the level of danger depending on the incident energy. Ratings range in number from 0-4. 0 represents little or no risk while 4 signifies greatest risk. For more information about the different arc flash hazard risk categories click here.
C. Minimum Arc Rating: Identifies the arc performance of a material or system of materials (PPE) and are expressed in calories per centimeter squared.
D. PPE: Identifies the Personal Protective Equipment that MUST be used according to the hazard category rating.
E. Equipment ID: Identifies panel location within facility.
F. Arc flash warning labels must have the word “WARNING” in black with an orange background and include the standard warning symbol (orange exclamation point with solid black triangle background).
G. Flash Protection Boundary: This is the closest anyone can approach the equipment that has the potential for arc flash, without the use of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).
H. Limited Approach Boundary: This boundary may only be crossed by a “qualified” person who has been trained in the hazards of the component or equipment being serviced.
I. Restricted Approach Boundary and Prohibited Approach Boundary: Only a qualified person using adequate shock prevention equip¬ment and techniques may cross these boundaries.

J. Maximum Available Fault Current: This is one of the new NEC required features as of November 2011. All the required safety information provided on the label is based on the max. available fault current. If the system is altered in any way resulting in this value to change than the data must be re-evaluated.
Companies or utilities will often make changes in the electrical system to be more efficient or to increase capacity. When this is done the max. available fault current changes. As a result the PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) category and the approach boundary information becomes inaccurate and is no longer compliant. Inaccurate information could easily result in serious injury or even death in which the company would be held liable for.
K. The date that the fault current calculation was performed must now be on the label. This is another new feature required by NEC as of November 2011. Arc flash warning labels expire after 5 years. Before labels are replaced an arc fault calculation should be performed to insure that the data on the labels is still accurate. The electrical systems one line diagrams must be updated when any changes are made.
NEC has made an exception to these three additions. Those that have had an arc flash analysis performed prior to September 2011 with arc flash warning labels that are less than five years old shall be exempt. However, the labels must be updated and include these additions when the existing arc flash warning labels expire. The exception does require documentation of “the method of calculating and data to support the information for the arc flash warning label.”
Feel free to call ITU if you have any questions: 866-851-9993
Footnote: NEC logo is property of the National Fire Protection Association

The History of the Safe Work Environment

Create a safer work environment the month we celebrate Labor Day

At the height of the Industrial Revolution (late 1800’s) employers were requiring employees to work 12 hour shifts or longer, 7 days a week, at wages that allowed them to merely scrape by. Employees as young as 5 and 6 years old were working the mills, factories, and mines all across the country. They were not allowed any breaks and were regularly exposed to extremely unsafe working conditions with little access to fresh air. The facilities were poorly managed and unsanitary. Most did not even offer any sort of accommodations such as bathrooms or even outhouses.
Labor unions soon became prominent and vocal. They began organizing strikes and rallies to protest poor conditions and compel employers to renegotiate hours and pay. The Unions success would soon lead to the first observation of Labor Day (September 5th 1882) by the Central Labor Union of New York, but it would not become a federal holiday until 1894.

Many of the strikes turned violent. The worst and probably the most infamous was the Haymarket Riot of 1886, in which several Chicago policemen and workers were killed. About 8 years later several more workers were killed at the hands of the U.S. Military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike.
This would be the final straw for President Grover Cleveland. He rushed to put reconciliation with the labor movement as a top political priority. Fearing further conflict, legislation making Labor Day a national holiday was rushed through Congress and signed into law immediately after ,  ended.
Since then the U.S. Government has put several policies into action not only to make the workplace fair but also to make it safer so that the lively hood of hard working Americans would never be threatened again.
One of the ways our government has done this was by creating a new agency under the U.S. Department of Labor called the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).This was called the OSHA Act of 1973 signed by President Richard Nixon.
OSHA’s primary objective is to create a safe work environment for America’s workers. OSHA achieves this by placing rules and regulations for businesses to follow. Examples of such requirements would be:

• Guards on moving parts
• Use of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)
• Lockout-Tagout procedures
• Hazard Communication development
• Various Electrical Safety procedures
• Permissible Exposure Limits
• Mandatory Employee Training

This is only a few of OSHA’s requirements. There are several more requirements that business owners should be aware of. Go to to find out what all is required for your business to be in compliance.
A good place to start, when getting in compliance, is on areas that pose the biggest threat to you and your co-workers.

Arc Flash Hazard or Arc Blast safeguarded by the use of proper PPE

One of the most dangerous and most common hazards in the work place is electric shock and electrical arc flash. Electrical related accidents are one of the most common hazards in today’s industry. Every business relies on electricity in order to function. Therefore the threat of electric shock and electrical arc blasts is common in every business around the world.
An arc flash fatality occurs once every 28 hours in the United States alone. Learn the risks and regulations associated with electricity and get the proper training for your staff so that accidents can be easily avoided. Do it for yourself, for your business, and most importantly for your co-workers or employees.
Make the month we celebrate Labor Day the month you become more pro-active about creating a safe work environment. Call ITU today Toll Free for more information! 855-ARCFLASH



What are Insulated Tools?

Arc Rated Insulated ToolsWhat are Insulated Tools?

Insulated tools are hand tools used by electricians to help protect them from, and reduce electrical related incidents such as: electrocution, arc flash, and arc blasts. The use and application of insulated tools and appropriate PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) by electricians is required by OSHA. Insulated tools are rated at 1000 volts but subjected to 10,000 volts before distribution (mandated by the ASTM F1505 standard). Insulated tools comply with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 60900 standard and The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 70E standard.
How can I tell if my hand tools are insulated?
If you don’t know whether your tools are insulated or not then chances are they are NOT. The first thing you want to look for on the tool is the international 1,000 volt symbol. All approved insulated tools are identified by this symbol.International 1000 volts symbol
Most hand tools manufactured today come equipped with a rubber coating over the handle (or handles). However, this does not mean that they are insulated tools and therefore, are not necessarily suitable for electrical related work. The rubber coating on common hand tools is there for comfort and grip. It is not there to provide any protection from electricity. This can be very misleading to the novice user.

Common knowledge tells us that rubber is not a conductor of electricity. Therefore, thinking the rubber handle (or handles) will offer protection. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. The rubber coating on these tools is not thick enough and is not made with the adequate dielectric properties to offer adequate protection.
Insulated hand tools are very thick and have multiple layers of both plastic and rubber. The base layer is usually made of plastic and is often a brighter color then the outer rubber layer. The plastic offers wear and tear protection. The slightest pin hole or cut in the outer rubber layer can expose the hand and fingers to the bare metal creating contact with electricity. The hard plastic layer prevents this from happening. When the brighter color of the plastic layer is visible (usually yellow) the use of the tool has been exhausted. The tool must be disposed of and replaced immediately.Insulated tools
The rubber layer (made of dielectric properties from various plastics) is the outer layer that offers most of the protection from the electricity as well as comfort and grip. The rubber is also oil and chemical resistant reducing the chances of electricity using moisture as a conductor. The handles are also equipped with enlarged finger guards at the top of the handle. These finger guards are to prevent your index finger from slipping off the rubber towards the top of the tool and on to the exposed bare metal.
So, before working on anything electrical related or when you’re looking to purchase an insulated tool always look for the international 1000 volt symbol, look at the handle and make sure it is very thick brightly colored (orange or yellow), and make sure it has very large finger guards at the top of the handles.
Where can I purchase insulated tools?Electrical rated insulated pliers compaired to rubber coated uninsulated pliers.
A full range of insulated tools are available. Pliers, side cutters, screw drivers, nut drivers, sockets, wrenches, cable cutters, and hacksaws. It is important that these tools are kept in a solid case separate from your everyday use tools:
• This reduces the chance of accidently grabbing and using non insulated tools when working around electricity.
• Insulated tools are more vulnerable to wear and tear then common tools therefore, being toted around loosely with other tools can damage the insulated rubber handles.
Call ITU today (phone# 866-851-9993) to find out how you can get these insulated tools at a great low price. ITU can also help you determine what level of PPE you need for your facility as well as provide you with helpful information on how to go about getting your facility in compliance with OSHA and NFPA 70E.

Insulated Tool Safety Checklist
Insulated tools are designed to reduce (will not completely eliminate) the chance of injury should your tool come in contact with an energized source. To avoid injury always turn off or de-energize lines and equipment before use. Apply your lockout-Tagout procedure. Only skilled & qualified electricians may work on live installations and then only in conformance with the relevant industrial safety standards.
Failure to observe the safety cautions in this checklist may result in injury or even death.

  • Only use insulated tools that are marked with the official international 1000 volt rating symbol.
  • Inspect your tools for wear and tear before each use.
  • Keep your insulated tools clean and dry at all times.
  • Store insulated tools separately from other tools in order to avoid confusion.
  • If the orange outer rubber layer is damaged in any way, or if the yellow inner layer is visible, DO NOT USE! Properly dispose of the tool and replace it.
  • Never touch an uninsulated part of the tool or any other conductive surface that may make contact with an energized source.
  • Have a qualified person inspect your insulated tools regularly for safe use.
  • Only use tools for their designed purpose and always follow locally relevant industrial safety standards such as OSHA 1910.333(c)(2), NFPA-70E, 2004 ed. and CSA Z462.
  • Always use the appropriate PPE when working around live circuits. Required by OSHA and NFPA. Insulated tools alone are not enough protection.
  • Have an arc flash analysis performed on your facility to determine the proper category or level of PPE to use in conjunction with your insulated tools.


Are You “Playing Possum”? (Energized Electrical Work Permit)

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.Energized Electrical Work Permit

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