In another bid to reiterate the importance of looking to Art. 130 for guidance on ensuring a safe workplace, the committee tweaked language that was leading to misinterpretations of the applicability and importance of the article’s specific protection requirements in different scenarios.

“One of the most significant changes is that while there are two general ways to do a hazard analysis — one by doing incident energy calculations and the other by using hazard/risk category tables — a lot of people think the tables are independent of the rest of the requirements of Art. 130,” says Palmer Hickman, director of code and safety training and curriculum development for the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC) and a member of the 70E technical committee. “The tables might appear to conflict with requirements outside the tables. New language makes clear that the tables don’t operate in a vacuum and are not independent of the rest of the requirements.”

For example, guidelines in the text of Art. 130 on the use of an arc-rated balaclava indicate they’re required when the back of the head is within the arc-flash boundary, notes Hickman. There’s no such reference to the need for such protection for hazard/risk Category 1 when the back of the head is within the arc-flash boundary. “Too many folks who open up 70E and look at the tables for guidance wouldn’t get that,” he says. “You often need to look deeper than just the tables.”

Concern that greater reliance on quick and dirty HRC table misuse was unintentionally elevating risk also led to changes in how information is presented. Short circuit current, fault clearing time, and potential arc flash boundary information have been moved from table notes into the major equipment categories.

“That brings the information more to the forefront for people to see and hopefully pay attention to,” Neitzel says.

In a related change, information on arc flash warning labels is now more definitive in addressing what types of protection are needed for different types of work as well as potential exposures and how that is to be calculated.

“Someone can’t just go to the tables and take it at face value as to what’s going to be used,” Neitzel says. “You will have to have done a short circuit analysis and protective device coordination studies to know whether you can even use the tables. It needs to be proven and documented now — to validate the chosen PPE that is stated on the label.”