A frequently asked question often relates to what constitutes a qualified electrical worker.
Let’s begin with a basic definition of the word qualified:
Referencing dictionary.com, “qualified” means several things. Here are two definitions:
One is considered qualified when a certain accomplishment has been met, and this accomplishment is backed up with some sort of documentation. A “qualified” electrical worker is discussed in standards like the NFPA 70 National Electrical Code (NEC), National Electric Safety Code (NESC), and NFPA 70E. OSHA also refers to the term “qualified” in many electrical standards, like 1910.331 and 1910.269.
Now let’s continue to a few of the industry definitions:
The NFPA 70E definition states this:
Qualified person. One who has demonstrated skills and knowledge related to the construction and operation of electrical equipment and installations and has received safety training to identify the hazards and reduce the associated risk. (underlined phrase denotes NEW material in NFPA 70E-2018)
In Subpart S, OSHA 1910.331(a) imparts:
The provisions of 1910.331 through 1910.335 cover electrical safety-related work practices for both qualified persons (those who have training in avoiding the electrical hazards of working on or near exposed energized parts) and unqualified persons (those with little or no such training) working on, near, or with the following installations:… (emphasis added)
Qualified employee (qualified person): One knowledgeable in the construction and operation of the electric power generation, transmission, and distribution equipment involved, along with the associated hazards.
Note 1: An employee must have the training required by 1910.269 in order to be considered a qualified employee.
Note 2: Except as provided in 1910.260, an employee who is undergoing on-the-job training and who, in the course of such training, has demonstrated an ability to perform duties safely at his or her level of training and who is under the direct supervision of a qualified person is considered to be a qualified person for the performance of those duties.
Finally, this is what OSHA 1910.269(a)(2)(ii) has to say:
Each qualified employee shall also be trained and competent in:
1. The skills and techniques necessary to distinguish exposed live parts from other parts of electric equipment,
2. The skills and techniques necessary to determine the nominal voltage of exposed live parts,
3. The minimum approach distances specified in this section corresponding to the voltages to which the qualified employee will be exposed and the skills and techniques necessary to maintain those distances,
4. The proper use of the special precautionary techniques, personal protective equipment, insulating and shielding materials, and insulated tools for working on or near exposed energized parts of electric equipment, and
5. The recognition of electrical hazards to which the employee may be exposed and the skills and techniques necessary to control or avoid these hazards.
Note to paragraph (a)(2)(ii): For the purposes of this section, a person must have the training required by paragraph (a)(2)(ii) of this section to be considered a qualified person.
Who can qualify an electrical worker?
Basically, you must remember these 2 points:
Does holding a current electrical license qualify me?
The Major Takeaways
- OSHA requires certain electrical tasks to be performed by qualified personnel.
- The employer is responsible for creating a method (process) to qualify workers for electrical tasks, regardless of the individual’s licensure or prior experience. The qualification process must include demonstration of skills.
- The employer must document each step in a worker’s qualification.
- OSHA requires workers to be trained on the electrical hazards and the mitigation of those hazards.
- Employers must provide employee training on the electrical hazards and mitigation of hazards.
See my other blog So Many Electrical Safety Terms – What Do They Mean? for more information on other potentially confusing electrical terms.