A Beginner’s Guide To Electrical Safety Training For Employees
Worried that your facility or team is not prepared for the possibility of an electrical emergency or explosion? You should be!
August 4, 2022
Employees who work with or around electricity need to be adequately trained. If not, fines, fires, or fatalities could put your company in disaster mode.
Continue reading to learn 95% of what your team needs to know about beginner electrical safety training.
At Herzig Engineering, we offer in-person and online electrical safety training in alignment with OSHA’s 29 CFR 1910.332(b)(1). If you’re a hospital, manufacturer, or any facility, you’ll benefit from our services.
WHAT IS ELECTRICAL SAFETY TRAINING?
Electrical safety training is the process of educating employees on how to work on or near electrical equipment safely without the threat of encountering electrocution, severe arc flash burns, and other hazards.
The NFPA 70E states that electrical safety training should be provided to all employees, qualified or unqualified, as in-depth as required to be safe on the job. Electrical safety is for everyone, not just the workers directly involved with electricity.
Unqualified workers (those who do not have job responsibilities that require them to work on energized equipment) should be trained in electrical hazard awareness and avoidance as well. The hope is that all employees are trained and knowledgeable enough to be safe on the job.
Although updated equipment designs, safer tools, and better PPE can help reduce injuries, those advancements won’t make much difference if the workers are not trained on how to implement them properly.
WHAT DOES ELECTRICAL SAFETY TRAINING LOOK LIKE?
Electrical safety training is typically in a classroom setting, on-the-job, online, or a combination of the three. The type and extent of the training should be based on the risk to each employee and their job responsibilities.
Companies commonly hire an electrical safety consulting firm to train their management and qualified, and unqualified personnel to be in compliance.
You can choose from different types of training based on your needs (if you know what you need, that is):
4 Hour Electrical Hazard Awareness Training
8 Hour Qualified Electrical Worker Training
2 Day Qualified Electrical Worker Training (with Hands-On evaluation)
90 Minute Unqualified Electrical Worker Training (Hazard Avoidance)
Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) Training
At Herzig Engineering, we offer a self-guided online electrical safety training program your employees can complete. This online training will take your team from uncertainty to full electrical safety compliance in 30 days. Click here to request a demo.
HOW LONG DOES ELECTRICAL SAFETY TRAINING TAKE?
It can take anywhere between 1 week and 30 days to train an entire company of 150+ employees, depending on the topics covered.
Depending on the extent of training needed, there’s everything from a 1-hour avoidance course to week-long, in-depth workshops. Any option can be completed at your site to reduce lost time to travel and can keep the disruption to a minimum.
Online options through live webinars or self-paced courses are also great resources for many workforces.
Training courses will cover various modules. An example breakdown could include:
4 Hour Electrical Hazard Awareness Training
8 Hour Qualified Electrical Worker Training (Full day or 2 of classroom-based)
90 Minute Unqualified Electrical Worker Training (Hazard Avoidance)
1 Day LOTO Training (lockout-tagout)
You must offer training to staff every three years per the requirements of the NFPA 70E. However, yearly refresher courses are ideal, while you can also find time for a quick monthly reminder to help build upon what they’ve learned from their electrical safety courses.
At Herzig Engineering, we can provide on-site training, webinar learning, or self-guided online learning. Go from uncertainty to full electrical safety compliance in 30 days, or the training is free.
HOW MUCH CAN ELECTRICAL SAFETY TRAINING COST?
The average annual cost of electrical safety training per employee is $845. While OSHA stipulates that training occurs at least every three years, many find annual training is suitable for at least some of their workforce.
Training can be expensive, yes, especially when paying upfront. But the investment is worth it, considering that it can easily cost your company up to $5 million for an arc flash incident or other electrical fines, fires, or fatalities.
You can’t put a price on building a safer working environment, though. If it means preventing incidents that would lead to widespread damages and keeping employees happy and safe, electrical safety training is an invaluable investment.
WHAT ARE THE BASICS OF ELECTRICAL SAFETY?
Most experts agree that the fundamental rule for safety (when it comes to electrical work) is to DE-ENERGIZE. Do not work with the equipment turned on unless there is no way around it.
Every part of electrical safety is dependent on several aspects working together – how to identify boundaries and hazard levels, select and use PPE/tools/meters, when you need job safety plans vs. permits, how to de-energize properly (ESWC), performing risk assessments and understanding/utilizing the Hierarchy of Risk Control Methods.
You can’t always de-energize, though. A simple example of when you HAVE to work energized would be voltage measuring. It’s hard to get a reading with the power off!
Proper safe work practices should be documented in a job safety plan and utilized if the worker has to test/troubleshoot (arc flash and shock PPE, insulated tools, approach boundaries identified, and work area established, etc.).
Below are some basics on electrical hazards all qualified electrical workers should know.
1. Electric Shock - If someone comes into contact with energized electrical conductors or circuit parts, they can experience an electric shock. It does not take much current to do a lot of damage!
As shown in the table below, less than half an amp going through you is enough to stop your heart.
2. Arc Flash - An arc flash is an intense light and heat produced as part of an arc fault, a type of electrical explosion or discharge that results from a connection through the air to the ground or another voltage phase in an electrical system. The heat from an arc flash can reach 35,000 degrees F (three and a half times hotter than the surface of the sun).
The table below shows how quickly we can be injured if our skin reaches even these relatively low temperatures.
Comparing the table above to the heat of an arc flash, it is clear why this hazard can be an incredible danger to anyone in the area.
3. Arc Blast - Due to its unpredictability, there is less conclusive research and information regarding the arc blast hazard. The best description for an arc blast comes directly from NFPA 70E 2021 Informative Annex K.4:
“The tremendous temperatures of the arc cause the explosive expansion of both the surrounding air and the metal in the arc path."
For example, copper expands by a factor of 67,000 times when it turns from a solid to a vapor. The danger associated with this expansion is the high pressures, sound, and shrapnel. The high pressures can easily exceed hundreds or even thousands of pounds per square foot, knocking workings off ladders, rupturing eardrums, and collapsing lungs. Finally, material and molten metal are expelled away from the arc at speeds exceeding 1120 km/hr (700 mph), fast enough for shrapnel to completely penetrate the human body.
TOP ELECTRICAL SAFETY TRAINING TOPICS TO DISCUSS WITH EMPLOYEES
Here are the training topics we cover with our clients. Several of these items should also be followed up with on-the-job training to implement what is learned in the classroom.
Explanation of what Codes and Standards apply to them
OSHA 29 CFR 1910.331-335
NFPA 70E (2021)
NFPA 70B (2019)
ASTM F 1505 & 1506
Having a Proactive Safety Culture
ANSI Z.10 Hierarchy of Controls
Arc Flash Risk Assessments
Explaining the Warning Label
Arc Flash PPE Categories
PPE Selection & Use
Arc Rating Methodology
Importance of Wearing AR Clothing
Selecting Proper PPE
Hand Protection – Leather and Insulated Gloves
Vision & Hearing Protection
Energized vs De-Energized Work
Verification of an Electrically Safe Work Condition (ESWC)
Testing & Troubleshooting
Energized Electrical Work Permits
Electrical Preventative Maintenance (EPM)
Planning for an EPM Program
EPM as a Safety Issue
Tools and Meters
Risk Assessment Procedure
Host Employer vs Contractor Employer Responsibilities
Elements of a Comprehensive Electrical Safety Program
All of the above electrical safety training topics are covered in detail through Herzig Engineering’s dedicated Electrical Safety Training Courses. This provides your company with a comprehensive approach for all on-site workers and technicians.
OSHA ELECTRICAL SAFETY TRAINING REQUIREMENTS (WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW)
Electrical safety training is needed to satisfy OSHA 1910.332, which addresses the training requirements that apply to all facilities.
To summarize, training must be provided to employees whose work might expose them to any electrical hazards while working on or near to exposed live parts. The content of the training shall include all work practices addressed in the 1910 regulation. Also, employees must have access to written lockout/Tagout procedures for work on electrical systems.
To comply with what OSHA requires, it is important to make sure the training provided to your workers has some key elements that result in benefits such as:
Your employees will gain a comprehensive and relevant education in this field
All teachings will be relevant to the latest industry standards and electrical landscapes
Your workers will receive certification to show that your company is up to date with Electrical Safety Compliance
When you prioritize quality for your courses, all workers will be on the same page while also knowing that the training was worthwhile. The individual and collective rewards of first-rate training are major in keeping your workplace safe and compliant.
CAN WE DO ELECTRICAL SAFETY TRAINING OURSELVES?
If you have personnel that are knowledgeable enough to provide safety training on applicable codes and standards, absolutely this can be done internally. If you do not have that knowledge base on hand, or the personnel with this knowledge can’t provide training, it is best to outsource.
There shouldn’t be any corners cut with electrical safety training as it is the foundation of all electrical safety. If you do not fully understand the hazard, how could you ever really protect yourself?
WHO TEACHES ELECTRICAL SAFETY NEAR ME?
There are many providers for safety training. You can hire a local or nationally licensed electrical engineer to host your electrical safety training either in person or online and have confidence the content is accurate and complete.
For classroom-based training, it is acceptable to provide video training content as the basis for your class. However, the best practice is to still have an instructor present in the classroom answering questions, teaching the material, and keeping the participants engaged.
For online training, groups can attend live webinar sessions or individually complete on-demand, self-paced courses. Your employees would watch videos, learn from experienced electrical safety professionals, and be asked to answer basic questions about what they’ve learned. It is always nice, regardless of the training format, to have a facilitator knowledgeable in the training content to answer questions for the workers (during and/or after the course).
Electrical safety training is an essential aspect of maintaining safe and operational workspaces. For good measure, it delivers peace of mind to business owners and managers.
The requirements may vary between different teams, such as qualified and unqualified electrical workers, but everyone must be included.
At Herzig Engineering, we provide electrical safety consulting, training, and system studies to reduce risk and create a safer, more efficient workplace. Knowledge is safety! Request a quote today and save yourself from disaster mode.
About the Author
We write about workplace and electrical safety. We want every worker to go home safely to their families and fulfill their job duties without risk.