What Makes a Qualified Electric Worker?
Any business with employees who work on electrical equipment faces the challenge of determining who is a qualified worker. The onus is on the employer to identify and train those employees to meet NFPA 70E and OSHA 1910.269 and 1910.333 standards.
What do you need to know and do as a manager?
First, what is a qualified electric worker? According to the NFPA 70E, a qualified person is “someone who has demonstrated skills and knowledge related to the construction and operation of electrical equipment and installation and has received safety training to identify the hazards and reduce the associated risk.”
That’s a lot of information packed into one sentence.
To simplify, a qualified electric worker must show you they know how to work with electrical equipment – by demonstrating their skills through actual work on equipment and demonstrating their knowledge through a formal evaluation process.
As an employer, it’s your responsibility to:
- Establish, document, and implement the safety-related work practices and procedures required by NFPA 70E and OSHA
- Provide employees with training on your safety-related work practices and procedures
Again, a lot of information is included in those two bullets. How do you meet your responsibility? First, it’s important to start with a task analysis – what do your employees have to do? Which tasks must be performed by a qualified electric worker? According to the standards, any task that exposes workers to a potential electrical hazard above 50 V or higher is included.
The most important thing you need to do as an employer is develop your requirements, document them and ensure workers follow them.
To best address these requirements, employees should establish a formal training program which includes:
- Determining tasks that need to be performed on equipment at 50 V or higher
- Reviewing existing training to identify what tasks are covered and what tasks aren’t
- Developing procedures with a step-by-step approach for relevant tasks
- Identifying training content that covers all applicable content
- For general concepts, off-the-shelf training may be a good path
- For company-specific information, instructor-led or OJT training may be the best approach
- Developing performance evaluations to ensure workers are qualified
Once you’ve identified the tasks, don’t just train on the standards, but the actual tasks you expect them to perform. That usually means a combination of training – online training to teach concepts, on-the-job training to learn the processes and procedures around equipment, and instructor-led to understand how to use equipment.
Not only do the workers need to take the training, but the training completion should be verified and their qualifications assessed.
All workers don’t need to be qualified for all tasks. You can provide knowledge and training to perform one or more specific tasks. Once the worker completes that training, they’re qualified for that specific task.
Having a formal structure in place will help make sure you and your employees are protected and you are compliant.