Electrical Safety, Certified
New certifications for electrical workers and supervisors
NFPA Journal®, March/April 2012
Industry awareness of the safe work practice requirements contained in NFPA 70E®, Electrical Safety in the Workplace®, has increased significantly over the past 15 years, as has adherence to those requirements. A number of factors are responsible for the continuation of this trend, including strong support from electrical industry stakeholders, expansion of the hazards covered in the standard to address both shock and arc-flash hazards, and proactive initiatives on preventing electrical accidents undertaken by federal and state occupational safety regulators. NFPA has supported this demand for information through the development of support products such as the NFPA 70E Handbook, alliances with industry partners such as IEEE and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and through the creation of training programs.
This emphasis on training is anchored in the employer – employee relationship established in Article 110 in NFPA 70E. The responsibility assigned to the employer — to establish an electrically safe environment through implementation of an electrical safety program founded on safe work practices — has resulted in a demand for quality training and a means to help employers determine whether their employees understand, and can competently implement, the safety strategies contained in the code.
This year, NFPA will launch a new initiative to support NFPA 70E by providing employers with a tool designed to help them implement the code’s safe work practice requirements. For almost a year, a team of 70E subject matter experts has worked on the development of two new and exciting certifications. With the help of a test development organization, the finishing touches are being put on the programs, which target 70E specialist supervisors and specialist workers.
“This is an important credential in the NFPA 70E field of practice,” says Robert Ruscitto, NFPA’s director of certification. “Workers and supervisors will have an opportunity to distinguish themselves in their profession through their demonstrated knowledge and competency of NFPA 70E.”
The certifications underscore the importance of the relationship between employees and their supervisors in effecting the electrical safety program. Employees perform tasks that are assigned to them by their supervisors, who may be plant managers, safety managers, facility or company owners, or other people who have direct oversight of employees performing tasks that may expose them to electrical hazards. Offering certifications for individuals at both the supervisory and worker levels facilitates the understanding and implementation of NFPA 70E across an organization and promotes a solid employer – employee relationship that is a fundamental element of an effective electrical safety program.
These certifications can be used by employers and employees as a benchmark indicating a working knowledge of the safe work practice requirements in NFPA 70E. Skill sets for tasks associated with specific types of equipment are not part of this certification program, since this is an assessment that has to be undertaken based on the unique nature of the task and equipment.
“NFPA, in creating the credentials, will have helped to encourage a deeper understanding of 70E,” says Ruscitto. “In turn, an increase in the understanding of such an important standard will positively impact electrical safety in the workplace and will further NFPA’s influence in carrying out its fundamental mission.”
Watch this column for more information on these important new certification programs.
Jeffrey Sargent is a regional electrical code specialist for NFPA.