NFPA 70B: Everything You Need to Know

NFPA 70B: Everything you need to know

The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) guides many aspects of workplace electrical safety, including NFPA 70, or the National Electrical Code (NEC). The NEC outlines a wide range of benchmarks for safe behaviors and practices around electricity, and the January 2023 update created new requirements for electrical equipment maintenance in many commercial and industrial environments.

Implementing NFPA 70B’s requirements calls for comprehensive planning and training. As NFPA 70B closely relates to standards from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), any organization hoping to maintain OSHA compliance must understand these requirements.

What Is NFPA 70B?

NFPA 70B is a set of standards outlined in the NEC that addresses electrical equipment maintenance, including inspections, testing, cleaning, repairs and safety procedures. Before 2023, NFPA 70B contained recommendations, but the update codified these suggestions as enforceable standards.

Different entities, like OSHA and other government organizations, often require adherence to NFPA standards, and the updates to NFPA 70B are now mandatory. Some requirements you’ll find in NFPA 70B include:

  • Elements of a compliant electrical preventive maintenance (EPM) program.
  • Safety methods and procedures for EPM.
  • Testing frequencies for electrical equipment.
  • Implementation guidelines for an EPM program.

NFPA 70B goes hand in hand with NFPA 70E, which covers electrical safety in the workplace. While 70B outlines maintenance practices that promote electrical safety, 70E helps ensure that employees perform those maintenance practices safely.

Other related standards might include NFPA 99 (Health Care Facilities Code) and NFPA 110 (Standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems).

NFPA 70B Requirements

The contents of NFPA 70B span several areas of electrical maintenance, including an electrical safety program and the EMP. While the standard provides requirements, manufacturer guidelines generally take precedence, so you might defer to them if available. Here are a few major components of NFPA 70B:

Electrical Maintenance Program

An EMP is a detailed maintenance plan for electrical equipment that can support continued safety and performance. The NFPA 70B requirements outline a thorough EMP that:

  • Addresses the condition of maintenance with an electrical safety program.
  • Identifies the personnel responsible for implementing each program element.
  • Surveys and analyzes electrical systems and equipment to determine maintenance priorities and requirements.
  • Develops and documents maintenance procedures for equipment.
  • Includes a plan for inspections, testing and servicing.
  • Has documentation and records-retention policies for maintenance, equipment and personnel documents.
  • Prescribes, documents and implements corrective measures with collected data.
  • Incorporates design for maintainability in electrical installations.
  • Strives for continuous improvement with a review and revision process.

Condition of Maintenance Audits

The updated standard added more detail and specificity to the term “condition of maintenance.” NFPA 70B requires equipment condition assessments (ECAs) to establish a piece of equipment’s condition across three dimensions — its physical condition, criticality and operating environment. A piece of equipment can fall under Condition 1, Condition 2 or Condition 3 for each of these dimensions, with lower numbers indicating better conditions.

The highest-rated condition determines the frequency of maintenance for the equipment. If a piece of equipment receives Condition 1 for physical condition and operating environment but Condition 2 for criticality, you would need to follow the maintenance intervals for Condition 2.

You could also give a piece of equipment an unserviceable or nonconforming designation. Unserviceable equipment creates an imminent risk of injury or negative health, while nonconforming equipment doesn’t fall into any of the other condition categories. Either of these designations must receive immediate corrective action.

While each product has its own list of required maintenance tasks, most need:

  • Visual inspection.
  • Cleaning.
  • Lubrication.
  • Mechanical servicing or inspections.
  • Electrical testing.

NFPA 70B: Everything You Need to Know

Training Requirements

NFPA 70B requires that any personnel carrying out the EMP have proper qualifications for the task at hand. Qualified persons have demonstrated their knowledge and skills surrounding electrical equipment and have completed relevant safety training. Some aspects they should understand include:

  • Test methods and equipment.
  • Maintenance tasks and processes.
  • Potential hazards and identification.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE).

You may need to retrain employees if:

  • A supervisor identifies a need for further training.
  • Updates to the standard affect previous procedures and practices.
  • You add new equipment or tasks to the employee’s work.
  • The employee rarely performs the task.

Remember, documenting adherence to these training requirements is also important for compliance with NFPA 70B.

Does OSHA Enforce NFPA 70B?

While OSHA doesn’t directly enforce NFPA standards, it can use the standards as evidence of a national industry consensus for safe practices. We’ve explored this situation in a blog post on OSHA citations from NFPA 70E, but in short, noncompliance with NFPA 70B can result in an OSHA violation.

Say a company violates OSHA’s standards by allowing untrained personnel to work with electrical hazards. OSHA could issue a citation for an unsafe work environment and point to NFPA 70B as evidence of what training programs and skills the workers should have in different scenarios.

The Importance of NFPA 70B Training

NFPA 70B’s impact on OSHA citations is just one of the reasons compliance is so valuable. Between increasing penalties for violations, corrective action requirements, litigation risks and reputational damage, OSHA compliance is crucial for protecting the bottom line.

Beyond compliance concerns, NFPA 70B’s preventive maintenance guidelines can offer valuable benefits in other areas:

  • Less downtime: Robust preventive maintenance can help you avoid unexpected downtime due to malfunctions or safety hazards. You might see more efficiency and profitability.
  • Improved safety: Keeping workers safe should be your top priority, and well-maintained equipment limits the chance of safety hazards in the workplace. Safety improvements may also help minimize liability concerns and protect your reputation as a responsible employer.
  • Better oversight: Monitoring the demands of different types of equipment can get complex, but NFPA 70B offers straightforward, standardized outlines for effectively organizing preventive maintenance.
  • Cost savings: Besides avoiding the costs associated with compliance violations, this standard’s focus on preventive maintenance can help keep equipment in good shape so it lasts longer and performs its best.

To enjoy these benefits, you’ll need two types of electrical training that support the requirements of NFPA 70B. The first type addresses electrical compliance by helping you identify needs and develop programs that meet the standard’s requirements. The second type of training ensures workers perform tasks correctly and stay safe during the process. Hands-on electrical safety training services can help your team build their skills toward becoming qualified personnel.

Meet compliance requirements with IEC NFPA 70B training courses

Meet Compliance Requirements With NFPA 70B Training Courses From IEC

Shifting NFPA 70B to a standard created new compliance considerations for many industrial and commercial organizations. If you don’t already have a thorough EMP or appropriate personnel training, prioritize your compliance with NFPA 70B immediately.

For businesses in California and parts of Nevada, Industrial Electrical Company can help. We offer robust training services designed to meet NFPA 70B and other relevant standards, including those from OSHA. Our NFPA 70B training courses cover compliance, safety and maintenance fundamentals.

Reach out to us today to set up training services and work toward full compliance with NFPA 70B.

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