When is an Energized Electrical Work Permit NOT Required in NFPA 70E? 4 Exemptions

red background with burning question

The 4 Exemptions to the Energized Electrical Work Permit (EEWP)

The energized permit requirement in NFPA 70E and CSA Z462 raised hackles in the beginning. But if you understand this document, you can see it isn’t an arbitrary requirement to make electrical work more administratively difficult.  The EEWP is a tool to help control unwarranted live work and ensure only qualified workers perform warranted live work.

Typical electrical work does not require an energized electrical permit under the standard.

The following paper that I co-wrote back in 2010 explains the 4 exemptions to an Energized Electrical Work Permit . The exemptions are still applicable today.

NFPA 70E has long waived the necessity of an energized work permit for such tasks as testing (voltage, current, phasing, infrared and system tuning), circuit identification, and troubleshooting. In 2009, a fourth exemption was added allowing persons to cross the Limited Approach Boundary for visual inspection [130.1(B)(3)].

This newly added exemption allows a qualified person to approach energized equipment for the singular purpose of visually inspecting equipment condition as long as that person does not cross the Restricted Approach Boundary or perform any task. He or she must also wear the appropriate arc flash PPE and follow all required safe work practices.

This eliminates any need for unnecessary paperwork in many areas. Companies may still choose to use a “hot work permit” or an energized electrical permit where conditions indicate. A common example of tasks that may be exempt from permit would be the need to look at a component to obtain a part number, but the most common is infrared inspection of parts for system reliability. Whether an equipment door is opened to verify a component setting, a fuse size or other common work task, a qualified, properly-outfitted person may be exempt from a management signature permit for these common tasks under certain conditions.

Anytime such inspections or any work is performed on energized equipment, whether a permit or written approval from management is required or not, persons performing the task must be qualified and must understand the hazards involved. Therefore, the items listed in 130.1(B)(2) must be addressed for all tasks. These items include the equipment and circuits involved in a task, necessary safe work practices, mandatory PPE, the exposed energy sources, knowledge of and proper guarding/marking of the distance of the electrical boundaries (arc flash or shock boundaries), and a job briefing.

Permit required or not, the person who performs such tasks must be fully aware of the increased hazards inherent to energized work and be qualified to work safely around those hazards.

Authors: Hugh Hoagland, Bill Shinn, Vickie Frost

Have a question about electrical safety and standards? Ask us here OR on our forum

You can also read another e-Hazard blog, Is There a Specific Standard and Section that States an EEWP is NOT Required When Applying Grounds for High Voltage? for more information.


Hugh Hoagland

Hugh Hoagland

does research and testing of PPE exposed to electrical arcs and is an arc flash expert. Hugh is a Sr. Consultant at ArcWear and Sr. Partner at e-Hazard. Read more about Hugh.

Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

6 Responses

  1. Hello Hugh, One thing that I have found when bring up EEWP in training classes, after the arm flailing and eyeball rolls have stopped, is managements misconception of this tool. I have heard that managers will not sign the EEWP because of liability issues if something should go wrong, so work commences without the EEWP. Another,it may take days to get one signed and the work needs to be conducted now, i.e.. racking a 13.8 breaker. Another is that the EEWP needs to be done for repetitive tasks each time the task is performed instead of using the permit for a period of time as long as the parameters remain unchanged. Do you have any information about the liability of signing the permit?

    1. The standard is pretty clear about the requirement. OSHA will hold the company more liable for energized work WITHOUT a permit since a proper permit JUSTIFIES why the work had to be done energized AND LAYS OUT A DOCUMENTED JOB SAFETY PLAN.

      I have never seen anyone successfully sued WITH their EEWP being found at fault but MANY have lost millions and hurt workers WITHOUT one. So many trainers don’t have the management and technical experience and to clearly explain the purpose of the EEWP.

      Additionally, our training recommends that companies have a documented ESP that allows clearly qualified people to do jobs that MUST be done routinely without a separate permit. If annually certain jobs, such as “racking a breaker” are reviewed and have all the elements of the EEWP in place they should not require running around to get signatures. This is the sign of the lack of an quality ESP or lack of quality management understanding. We regularly help companies write job procedures and ESP’s to keep paperwork manageable but to properly implement NFPA 70E and get the work done safely.


  2. An EEWP is required for any live equipment over 50 volts correct? Does that include:
    1-Pulling fuses when bucket is turned off
    2-Changing light bulbs when unable to turn off power
    3-Adjusting limits when power is unable to turn off
    4-replacing fuses on 120v circuits in IO room

  3. Does this still apply today on taking current readings
    NFPA 70E has long waived the necessity of an energized work permit for such tasks as testing (voltage, current, phasing, infrared and system tuning), circuit identification, and troubleshooting. In 2009, a fourth exemption was added allowing persons to cross the Limited Approach Boundary for visual inspection [130.1(B)(3)].

    Do you need an energized work permit to take Amp reading on a live circuit?

    1. The NFPA 70E standard does not require EEWP for testing but a company may require permits for what they wish.
      IF reading the current on the circuit requires disturbing a cable or cable splice this could be interpreted as a different procedure. The company and the AHJ are responsible for safe work practices so they may go beyond NFPA 70E and OSHA.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *