Why Should I Train Employees Who Work Around and On Electricity?

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1. It is OSHA Law

Become familiar with 1910.332.

Employees who face a risk of electric shock must be trained. This pertains to supervisors, electrical engineers, electronic engineers, electricians, mechanics, painters, welders, and a host of other workers. (See Table S-4, copied below. It lists types of jobs required to receive electrical safety training.)  

If a particular job is not on that list, don’t assume those employees are off the hook from electrical safety training. Those “who also may reasonably be expected to face comparable risk of injury due to electric shock or other electrical hazards must also be trained.” (OSHA 1910.332(a)

OSHA mentions two different types of workers in this section: qualified and unqualified.

Here are some excerpts on qualified and unqualified workers from a previous e-Hazard blog post:

OSHA requires that workers in the electrical field be qualified. The qualification must come from the employer, who is the qualification body. The employer must provide a method of qualification, including documentation.

In the electrical sense of the word, a person remains “unqualified” unless he or she has received proper training and skills listed in 1910.332, and a host of other skills for tasks such as work above 600 volts, or specialty functions like energized work (covered in 1910.333(C)(2).

It bears repeating: Employees who face a risk of electric shock or other electrical hazards must be trained.

What must employees learn in the training?

1910.332 states that employees should receive training on safety-related work practices that relate to their specific job assignments. This includes the requirements stated in 1910.331 through 1910.335.

Qualified personnel have additional training requirements. They must be trained on and familiar with the following:

  1. Distinguish exposed live parts from other parts of electric equipment
  2. Determine the nominal voltage of exposed live parts
  3. Know the clearance distances specified in 1910.333(c) and the corresponding voltages to which the qualified person will be exposed

Unqualified personnel must receive any electrical safety training that is necessary for their safety.

_______________________________________________

  TABLE S-4. -- Typical Occupational Categories of Employees
    Facing a Higher Than Normal Risk of Electrical Accident
_________________________________________________________________________

                      Occupation
_________________________________________________________________________

Blue collar supervisors(1)
Electrical and electronic engineers(1)
Electrical and electronic equipment assemblers(1)
Electrical and electronic technicians(1)
Electricians
Industrial machine operators(1)
Material handling equipment operators(1)
Mechanics and repairers(1)
Painters(1)
Riggers and roustabouts(1)
Stationary engineers(1)
Welders
_________________________________________________________________________
 Footnote(1) Workers in these groups do not need to be trained if their
work or the work of those they supervise does not bring them or the
employees they supervise close enough to exposed parts of electric circuits
operating at 50 volts or more to ground for a hazard to exist.

[55 FR 32016, Aug. 6, 1990]

2. Industry Standards Specify and Require Training.

You need to know NFPA 70E 110.2, Training Requirements.

This section also lists training requirements for Qualified and Unqualified workers. The list of requirements for the Qualified worker is more detailed than what is contained for Qualified workers in 1910.332.

NFPA 70E says, “Safety-related work practices such as verification of proper maintenance and installation, alerting techniques, auditing requirements, and training requirements provided in this standard are administrative controls and part of an overall electrical safety program.”

You cannot have an effective electrical safety program as required by OSHA without ongoing electrical safety training.

3. Best Practices Show that Training Pays for Itself.

OSHA requires it.

NFPA requires it.

CDC recommends it.

Why would you NOT do it?

The US Center for Disease Control offers a revised free guide to electrical safety programs and includes training recommendations.

4. It Is Part of Making Sure Employees Are Fully Qualified to Do Electrical Work.

NFPA 70E and OSHA both define a Qualified Person as someone who has “demonstrated skills and knowledge” related to the construction and operation of electrical equipment … and has received safety training to identify and avoid the hazards involved.” (emphasis added)

It is best practice to train. It is the law. And it is the ONLY way to assure workers have that knowledge.

For more information on improving electrical safety in your workplace, read about e-Hazard’s Safety Cycle™.


Article Updated: October, 2019

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.

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2 Responses

  1. Hello Hugh – I have known of you through my attendance at IEEE-EWS and DuPont colleagues. Recently I have assumed a position as corporate lead electrical engineer and often get asked questions on Electrical Safety. I will appreciate your comments and suggestions for following questions.

    1) What is the certification requirement or qualification of Electrical safety trainer/instructor.
    2) Disconnecting main power source switchgear in industrial set up MV or LV or weekly checking operation of Emergency generators requires qualified electrical training preferably hand-on does the retraining (does the 3 year verification or re-certification ) also has to be hands-on and by certified trainer?

    1. Great question.

      1. There is NO official OSHA requirement for safety training. OSHA Training Institutes are an option and some have an OSHA 500 certification but this doesn’t make the trainer qualified. Most of our trainers are CECSP via NFPA which is a Competent Electrical Safety Professional test they have passed with a minimum level of work experience and adequate continuing education to qualify for this certification. I know many with this certification and it does let you know that they understand the basics of NFPA 70E well but doesn’t speak to the quality of the training they deliver. We offer through our Train the Trainer program a certification on OUR materials. None of these are REQUIRED by OSHA. I have two rules of thumb for NFPA 70E and Electrical Safety Trainers:
      a. Have substantial field experience in equipment and work practices.
      b. Have a thorough knowledge of the NFPA 70E, OSHA Electrical and related standards.
      c. Have quality training materials which use the applicable standards in a legal copyrighted manner.

      Many companies copy parts of the NFPA 70E standard and make handouts which is illegal, other companies do cheap training because they are selling PPE and/or other services or equipment. After viewing MANY training classes from clothing companies and equipment companies, I have found less than 5 that cover all a worker needs to know and many open the company to copyright infringement. Just be careful.

      Hands-on on training requires a “qualified” trainer, No “certification” is required BUT the company is responsible. On HV, the hands on should be annual IF the work is not done more than annually. The 3 years is ON the standard since the standard is updated every three years but may be more frequent IF the OSHA standard changes between training, company policies or practices changes or equipment changes.

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