What’s the first thing you think of when you’re asked how to create an electrically safe working condition? While lockout/tagout might be the most popular response, it is critically important that all components related to those being repaired are completely de-energized, rather than just locked and tagged. According to Article 120 of NFPA 70E® Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, establishing an electrically safe work condition is a necessary, effective, and multi-step process that encompasses a much higher level of safety than a simple lock & tag. 

It’s just as important to ensure that all team members, even those who do not make electrical repairs, understand what it means to create an electrically safe work condition. Awareness is the number one way to ensure worker safety and help prevent accidental re-energizing of equipment while your team is still at work. 

When preparing to work on repairs of energized equipment, be sure to confirm all energy has been discharged and all sources are de-energized before beginning to work on the components.  

  1. Look at schematics, ladder drawings, and other wiring diagrams to ensure that the equipment you are repairing doesn’t have additional sources of energy. If it does, follow the proper procedure to shut down those additional sources of energy. 
  2. Disconnect every related device at the power source – turn off all sources of energy that feed into the equipment you’ll be troubleshooting. 
  3. Complete a visual verification: verify all power is off and that there are no electrical safety defects. 
  4. Release stored energy (batteries, capacitors, inductors) – and wait to work until all energy has dissipated.  
  5. Block mechanical sources of potential energy, such as springs. 
  6. Apply a lockout/tagout device to ensure that the circuits cannot be re-energized by someone other than the worker working on the equipment. But sure to follow the lockout/tagout procedure recommended by the manufacturer or follow established best practices. 
  7. Test before you touch. Test your multimeter or voltmeter to ensure the equipment is working properly and set to the right rating for the job. Once verified, proceed with testing to confirm there is no voltage reading for the equipment to be repaired.  
  8. Ground all circuit conductors if there is any chance of stored electrical energy or induced voltage. 

Establishing an electrically safe working condition is just one of many steps that electrical workers must take to protect themselves and others on the job. TPC’s Arc Flash Electrical Safety NFPA 70E® is the perfect place to start learning fresh or updating your knowledge for the new code year. This course fulfills requirements set forth in OSHA 29 CFR Part 1910, Subpart S Electrical and NFPA 70E®, which requires this type of instructor-led training for anyone working with electrically energized equipment. 


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