Injuries to workers exposed to high voltage and related electrical hazards may never be totally eliminated, but it won’t be for any lack of trying to bolster the NFPA 70E workplace electrical safety standard. Drafters of the 2012 revisions to the standard aimed again for that lofty and worthy goal, fine-tuning and updating requirements for oversight, documentation, procedures, and systems to protect workers. Of course, whether all that’s ultimately a good thing partly depends on how one views fate, the law of averages, and whether more is better when it comes to rules and regulations.

But the reality is that 70E, last updated in 2009, is now a more ironclad and nuanced safety document. Those looking to it as one way to comply with OSHA worker safety rules will have more standards to meet and practices to follow, not to mention clearer guidelines on ensuring workplace electrical safety. Employers, workers, electrical contractors, trainers, and, to some extent, suppliers of electrical components and safety products will feel the effects of this latest round of revisions to different degrees.

While many again reflect new knowledge and a better understanding of risks and hazards, the vast majority of the revisions seem to buttress the view that safety comes down to just keeping an eye on the ball. By carefully developing and religiously following formal procedures — and creating a system of checks and balances to ensure they’re carried out — parties responsible for worker safety will be better positioned to head off potentially deadly mishaps.

The NFPA 70E Technical Committee on Electrical Safety in the Workplace, which developed the revisions approved by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), addressed that through a number of additions and clarifications of language that spell out employer responsibilities for making work environments as safe as possible. Let’s take a look at some of the most significant changes and how they will affect electrical professionals.