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

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1. It is OSHA Law


Scope. The training requirements contained in this section apply to employees who face a risk of electric shock that is not reduced to a safe level by the electrical installation requirements of 1910.303 through 1910.308.

Note: Employees in occupations listed in Table S-4 face such a risk and are required to be trained. Other employees who also may reasonably be expected to face comparable risk of injury due to electric shock or other electrical hazards must also be trained.


Content of training.


Practices addressed in this standard. Employees shall be trained in and familiar with the safety-related work practices required by 1910.331 through 1910.335 that pertain to their respective job assignments.


Additional requirements for unqualified persons. Employees who are covered by paragraph (a) of this section but who are not qualified persons shall also be trained in and familiar with any electrically related safety practices not specifically addressed by 1910.331 through 1910.335 but which are necessary for their safety.


Additional requirements for qualified persons. Qualified persons (i.e. those permitted to work on or near exposed energized parts) shall, at a minimum, be trained in and familiar with the following:


The skills and techniques necessary to distinguish exposed live parts from other parts of electric equipment.


The skills and techniques necessary to determine the nominal voltage of exposed live parts, and


The clearance distances specified in 1910.333(c) and the corresponding voltages to which the qualified person will be exposed.

Note 1: For the purposes of 1910.331 through 1910.335, a person must have the training required by paragraph (b)(3) of this section in order to be considered a qualified person.

Note 2: Qualified persons whose work on energized equipment involves either direct contact or contact by means of tools or materials must also have the training needed to meet 1910.333(C)(2).


Type of training. The training required by this section shall be of the classroom or on-the-job type. The degree of training provided shall be determined by the risk to the employee.

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


Blue collar supervisors(1)
Electrical and electronic engineers(1)
Electrical and electronic equipment assemblers(1)
Electrical and electronic technicians(1)
Industrial machine operators(1)
Material handling equipment operators(1)
Mechanics and repairers(1)
Riggers and roustabouts(1)
Stationary engineers(1)
 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.

NFPA 70E even goes as far as to say, “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.

The US Center for Disease Control offers a revised free guide to electrical safety programs and includes training recommendations.  OSHA requires it, CDC recommends it, NFPA requires it.  Why would you NOT do it?

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

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. 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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