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10/07/2019

NFPA 79 2018 Changes: Why Is It Important My Workers Are Up to Date?

Safety is paramount when working with industrial machinery. We’re talking safety that preserves lives, but also procedures that help protect your property, thus avoiding down time from accidents and disruptions, as well as the added costs of replacing damaged equipment.

The key regulatory standard for administering a safety protocol in any business that uses industrial machinery is NFPA 79-2018, Electrical Standard for Industrial Machinery. This document provides information that helps the manager apply the provisions of the standard to electrical equipment or systems.

It applies to electrical or electronic equipment (or apparatus or systems) of industrial machines “supplied from nominal voltage of 1000 volts or less.” The standard applies to the “point of connection of the supply circuit conductors to the electrical equipment of the machine.”

The standard is designed to protect equipment, operators, the facilities, and jobs in progress from electrical and fire hazards.

Why the Changes?

The code is updated every three years. The change in the standard that applies to a nominal voltage of 1000 volts or less is one of the most important changes in the 2018 edition of the regulations. This change helps the regulation align with the National Electrical Code, which is known as NFPA 70-2017.

It’s important to remember that modern electrical machine tool equipment varies in size and performance. For instance, a simple, single-motor machine may be used to perform a task, or the operator may choose an automatic machine with intricate and sophisticated electrical controls and several motors. As the variety and sophistication of industrial machines increase, the changes represented by NFPA 79-2018 are needed so that safety procedures will be in alignment with the use of more complex machines.

Here are some examples of changes in the new regulation:

  • Revised and otherwise changed definitions and clarifications.
  • Clarification that Chapter 5 is comprehensive regarding all supply circuit conductor terminations.
  • “Main disconnecting means” now has to be marked as such if multiple disconnecting means are available on the machine.
  • Clarification that all parts of a ground-fault current path must withstand the highest mechanical and thermal stress.
  • Stipulation that a surge protection device must correlate with the NEC (National Electrical Code).

There are many other changes, including those applying to operating conditions, protection from electrical hazards, and control circuits but also the wire color code — a necessity to know when deciphering cable and component purpose.

Job safety planning is also an important part of the new standard — meaning before starting a job involving work with electrical equipment, an employee in charge or a contractor must complete a job safety plan, followed up by a job briefing.

This plan would include, in addition to a description of the job, details on the electrical hazards and a shock risk assessment, as well as an arc flash risk assessment.

Key to correct reporting is an understanding that not just accidents should be reported, but also “incidents,” whether or not they result in injury.

Another change is the standardization of PPE, or personal protection equipment. Authors of the standard have been gathering information from manufacturers on care, arc ratings, and other details so that workers can make a more informed decision on which type of PPE to use for a particular job.

What to Look for in Training

While you, as a manager, must be up to speed on the standard as a whole, as well as the changes, you also must ensure that your work force gets adequate training to understand and implement safety standards. A major training goal for NFPA 79 should be to help the trainee understand where NFPA 70 (NEC) ends and NFPA 79 begins.

Another important goal of training might be to show how to repair equipment’s electrical components in the proper manner so they are in compliance, safe to use, and have a longer useful lifetime. Trainees should also be taught equipment design so that maintenance procedures are more effective.

Why Formal Training?

Sure, you can gather your workforce together and try to go through the standard and explain changes, but you’d be better off enlisting a professional trainer well versed in the standard who can answer all the questions your employees might have. You should look for a well-organized training session, presented over a couple of days, either at your establishment or on-site at a training center in your region.

Trainings should be designed for everyone from an electrician to a mechanic, as well as energy management personnel and maintenance technicians. While the training may be in part lecture-based, it’s a good idea to offer hands-on exercises, to reinforce the lessons as they are presented.

Are you ready to train your workforce on NFPA 79 2018 in order to ensure a safer workplace? Connect with NTT Training today to enroll your workers in their 2018 NFPA 79 — Electrical Standard for Industrial Machinery seminar.

Connect with NTT Training Today!

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