Training employees to work safely around electrical hazards is a critical requirement for maintaining worker safety. Electricity is a serious workplace hazard that can result in serious injuries and even fatalities if your workers are not properly trained.
According to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, exposure to electricity was the cause of 136 work-related deaths in 2017. In response to these dangers of electricity, OSHA requires organizations to train employees to protect them from electrocution, shocks, arc flash, explosions, and fires.
It is important you know OSHA's electrical safety training requirements for employees, and what work they are able to perform with this training. You should also consider providing additional training to further mitigate the risks that come with electrical hazards.
OSHA's Electrical Standard Requirements
As outlined in OSHA’s electrical safety standards, affected workplaces must offer comprehensive safety training on the best work practices when around electrical hazards.
Because of the potential for workplace accidents and injuries, OSHA states that only “qualified” workers can perform maintenance and repairs of electrical equipment. These qualified workers must be fully trained to identify exposed live electrical parts and their voltage, and know exactly what procedures to follow when they work on exposed live parts or are close enough to be at risk.
Your company must document which electrical training employees have received and demonstrated an understanding of the course material. We recommend using online training tracking software to easily meet these requirements. Such software not only offers a high return on investment for employee training, but can offer training certificates when employees pass a course.
Workers that are “non-qualified” to perform maintenance on electrical equipment also must be trained in electrical safety if they could be exposed to electrical hazards while on the job. At a minimum, employees need to be trained in the skills and techniques necessary to recognize exposed live parts, determine the voltage of such parts, and the corresponding clearance distances.
NFPA 70E Certification Training
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) developed the NFPA 70E Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace originally at the request of OSHA. As such, following the NFPA 70E standard will assist you in complying with OSHA's 1910 Subpart S and 1926 Subpart K electrical safety standards.
However, becoming NFPA 70E certified is NOT required to comply with OSHA's standards. Rather, passing NFPA 70E training is a guaranteed way to comply with OSHA's standards, and as such has become an industry-recognized proof of competence.
Training programs and courses that consist of NFPA 70E material, but do not offer an NFPA 70E certification, will still qualify your employees for electrical work.
The Benefit of Additional Electrical Training
Due to the severity of risk from electrical work, safety training should not stop at meeting OSHA's requirements.
Many organizations in especially high-risk industries provide additional training on top of what is required in OSHA's standards. In addition to electricians and others in the construction industry, employees in mass transit, utility, industrial goods manufacturing, and mechanic repair positions have historically been at high risk of injury due to exposure to electricity.
Recurring training sessions can help mitigate the dangers of electricity in these industries, by keeping workers up-to-date with best practices and information.
Ensuring workers are educated about the types of electrical injuries, how they can occur, proper protection required, and lockout/tagout procedures is essential to maintaining a safe work environment. It can also cut down on costly OSHA citations, as improper lockout/tagout practices are in OSHA’s most frequently violated standards.
We recommend you follow a safety training guide to keep track of which electrical training is required, and which can provide additional benefits.
Key Electrical Safety Training Topics & Tools
To meet OSHA's training requirements for electrical safety, there are certain topics that must be included in your training program. IndustrySafe's training content catalog offers numerous online courses to meet OSHA standards including:
- Electrical Safety (General)
- Electrical Safety in Hazmat Environments
- Electrical Safety in the Laboratory
- Electrocution Hazards in Construction Part I and Part II
- Lock Out / Tag Out
- Arc Flash
While it is important employees take these classes as needed, keeping record of which employees have taken which courses can be a hassle. This is especially true when using an Excel spreadsheet, as it is all to easy for records to be edited or deleted without realizing it.
To stay on top of your electrical training needs, you should be using training management software designed specifically to help you track your employees' training. This will allow you to easily keep track and even schedule electrical safety training to ensure employees are being trained and retrained on electrical safety as needed. Such software will even alert you and employees when they are overdue for their training.
It's time to stop stressing about the various hazards of electrical work. Contact us to learn more about providing online electrical safety training to your workforce, and keep your workers safe.