Permanent Electrical Safety Devices (PESD)

red background with burning question

Q: Has NFPA published any position on PESD’s (Permanent Electrical Safety Devices) or can you get them to address (it) in the future?

(John L., with the KY Labor Department asked this question.)

A: Permanent Electrical Safety Devices (PESD) are often purported to eliminate the need for PPE and some companies believe they can be used to verify that a circuit is dead.

One manufacturer of these devices is Grace Engineered Products.

We are fans of the devices. Many companies believe you must use a volt meter to the lugs to verify no current, keeping PPE on until you verify the circuit is dead. OSHA does not accept these devices until a vertical standard is accepted. To my knowledge, NFPA 70E has never published any position on these.

If NFPA 70E takes a positive position, it is possible that OSHA might publish a letter of interpretation (though OSHA could make the interpretation on their own) and accept the use of these devices in place of a meter.  But they are an excellent extra check for an operator. They reduce risk for the electrician IF they are installed correctly, work at the time used and their failure options are understood.

NFPA 70E members believe the devices are OK to reduce risk. They do not determine absence of voltage since they do not “measure voltage”.

They are a good second check and can be used as part of an LOTO for non-electrical work when the Control start or other means are used to further prove absence of hazardous mechanical energy (such as for changing a saw blade).

I don’t think the manufacturers state the devices take the place of a voltage meter, but they do make the workplace safer IF used properly and not misused as described.

We recommend these devices in our NFPA 70E based LV Qualified Electrical Safety Training.

Hugh Hoagland

Hugh Hoagland

Hugh Hoagland is the foremost tester of clothing and PPE exposed to electrical arcs and is an arc flash expert. Read more about Hugh.

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2 Responses

  1. Hugh, does e-hazard have an updated position on PESDs? The manufacturer you reference above now has a combination PESD model that includes a voltage indicator AND a voltage measurement portal. In addition, the most recent edition of 70E,includes an exception to 120.5 that now provides an exception to using a portable test instrument. Thanks!

    1. This is a great question. NFPA 70E now references them as acceptable for use but OSHA hasn’t yet budged. The reason is that some technologies could fail with no indication, others do not measure voltage or do not measure voltage at zero so one could still have voltage with current flow and the PESD indicate the equipment is de-energized. Some newer ones now claim to meet the OSHA criteria. We recommend that companies evaluate the technology. We current see the voltmeter as the belt and the PESD as the suspenders. GREAT for operators to “know” there is no voltage before doing their “switch-on check” but not quite there for an electrician to “put your hands on it” without a voltage check.

      Wait for OSHA, evaluate and choose an appropriate technology and know the specs before you change procedures.

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