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.
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
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.