From Problem to Solution: NFPA 70E and the VeriSafe Absence of Voltage Tester

The VeriSafe – Absence of Voltage Tester (AVT) from Panduit supports compliance in the lockout/tagout process described in NFPA 70E.

 

Electrical workers must comply with safety regulations that require a voltage verification test before servicing electrical equipment. NFPA 70E, the Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, addresses best practices for protecting employees from electrical hazards through the use of safety programs, hazard and risk identification, training, and procedures.

One of the best ways to protect workers is to isolate the electrical supply, follow lockout and tagout procedures, and verify the equipment is de-energized before any electrical work is performed. Until now, this process has been complex and time-consuming, fraught with possibilities for human error and potential exposure to hazards.

The verification step often puts electrical workers at risk for exposure to electrical hazards while testing a handheld tester on a known voltage source, testing for absence of voltage phase-to-phase and phase-to-ground inside the equipment, and re-testing the tester to ensure it is still functioning properly.

Until these steps have been completed, it is best to assume the equipment may be energized and take all necessary precautions including use of adequate personal protective equipment.

In the 2018 edition of NFPA 70E, a new exception was included in Article 120.5(7) that offers an alternative to the traditional hand-held testers method used to verify the absence of voltage: the option to use a permanently mounted device.

The permanently mounted test device can be used to test the conductors and circuit parts at the point of work before the equipment is accessed preventing exposure to electrical hazards. These permanently mounted devices must be installed at the point of work in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions, listed and labeled for the purpose of verifying the absence of voltage, and satisfy additional requirements outlined in the standard.

The permanently mounted test device is different from the test portal interface that is sometimes used with a handheld voltage tester. Although the test portals reduce exposure when verifying the absence of voltage, this process– working with hand tools via a portal – does not meet the requirements of the new Exception 1 in 120.5(7) because:

  • It is not listed for the purpose of verifying the absence of voltage
  • There is no way to confirm that the probes of the tester are actually in direct contact with the electrical conductors inside the enclosure at the time of the test
  • They bring hazardous voltage to the door

An example of a permanently mounted device that does meet the requirements of NPFA 70E is the absence of voltage tester (AVT).

The VeriSafe Absence of Voltage Tester from Panduit is specifically designed to verify the absence of voltage and fully complies with the new NFPA 70E standard. This ultimately simplifies the testing process and reduces risk for the qualified worker performing electrical work.

Automating this process with the VeriSafe AVT:

  • Reduces testing procedure time and complexity
  • Reduces the risk of exposure to electrical hazards
  • Supports compliance in the lockout/tagout process described in NFPA 70E

A facility’s electrical infrastructure is a top priority. With more than 60 years of infrastructure expertise, Panduit is committed to developing innovative solutions to help companies achieve their operational goals, reduce risk, and increase electrical safety.

Learn more about the VeriSafe - Absence of Voltage Tester here: www.panduit.com/verisafe

How Electrical Safety Technology Advancements Move From Ideas to Implementation

The VeriSafe AVT is a permanently-mounted test device designed to verify that a circuit is de-energized prior to opening an electrical enclosure.

The VeriSafe™ Absence of Voltage Tester (AVT) from Panduit simplifies the testing process by automating the voltage verification process.

 

When servicing electrical equipment, OSHA and the NFPA 70E Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace both direct these qualified electrical workers to de-energize all live parts to which an employee may be exposed.

Thus, the worker is required perform a voltage verification test to validate the absence of voltage. This is a complex testing process that includes a number of stages that can be cumbersome and time-consuming when using hand-held portable test instruments.

Before the testing even beings, it’s important for the worker to think ahead and not be forced to stop work to fetch other tools or testers that might throw their focus and contribute to an electrical accident.

Electrical safety, in terms of tools, has been advancing for decades. Today, we have infrared thermometers, cameras, and windows as well as laser distance meters and non-contact voltage detectors.

Early non-contact tools, like low-voltage, proximity testers were (and still are) good for a first test for voltage, but they required follow up with a direct-contact meter.

In general, proximity testers are flawed in that they may not work in all situations, as their readings are thrown off by a number of specific circumstances.

Solenoid testers used to be a popular tool of choice, but when voltage drops below 90 volts, the tool wasn’t reliable in indicating that voltage is present.

Some solenoid units with indicator lights stop lighting up at about 30 volts, some are prone to wear and scarring leaving inabilities to see voltage and today, solenoid testers aren’t fused and don’t comply with CAT safety rating requirements.

After the solenoid tester came the multimeter, which is a good tool for making accurate contact measurements to identify live circuits. However, one of the most common mistakes workers make when using a multimeter is turning it to the wrong function (amps instead of volts).

Verifying the operation of the voltage tester itself is also a task that needs to be performed.

Before beginning the absence of voltage test, it’s important to check the test instrument to ensure it is working properly – this is known as the  “live-dead-live” test, which is mandated by OSHA and is also required by the NFPA 70E when voltage is above 50 volts. The live-dead-live requirement was written into 70E in the 2009 update.

The VeriSafe™ Absence of Voltage Tester (AVT) from Panduit simplifies the testing process by automating the voltage verification process.

Voltage indicators are tools that can warn of hazardous voltage but cannot be used to confirm if the equipment is de-energized. The VeriSafe AVT is a permanently-mounted test device designed to verify that a circuit is de-energized prior to opening an electrical enclosure.

The idea for VeriSafe came as a product of Prevention through Design. In concept, it was designed to eliminate or avoid the electrical hazard.

With VeriSafe, the absence of voltage test is initiated with the push of a button; No additional tools required. The simplified process of automating for voltage verification is here.

More facilities are implementing advanced safety-first systems that remove doubt, reduce the chances of human error and boost worker productivity.

Just as the modern facility has advanced, so too has test technology that verifies the absence of voltage.

Learn more about Panduit absence of voltage testers here: https://www.panduit.com/en/products/safety-security/active-safety-devices/absence-of-voltage-testers.html