National, state and local codes and standards are used to protect people and property from electrical dangers. A code is a regulation or minimum requirement. A standard is an accepted reference or practice. Codes and standards ensure electrical equipment is built and installed safely, and every effort is made to protect people from electrical shock.

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is a national organization that provides guidance in assessing the hazards of products of combustion. The NFPA publishes National Electrical Code (NEC). The purpose of the NEC is the practical safeguarding of persons and property from the hazards arising from the use of electricity. The NEC is updated every three years. Several city, county, state and federal organizations utilize the NEC to set requirements for electrical installations.

American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a national organization that helps identify industrial and public needs for standards. ANSI coordinates and encourages activities in national standards development.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

OSHA has developed color codes to help ensure a safe environment. Source: OSHAOSHA has developed color codes to help ensure a safe environment. Source: OSHAThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a federal agency that requires all employers to provide a safe environment for their employees. All work areas must be free from hazards likely to cause serious harm. With few exceptions, OSHA uses the NEC to help ensure a safe electrical environment. The agency has developed color codes to help ensure a safe environment and to help quickly identify fire protection equipment, physical hazards, dangerous parts of machines, radiation hazards and locations of first aid equipment.

Per OSHA regulations, it is an employer’s duty to furnish each employee a place of employment that is free from recognized hazards that cause or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.

National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA)

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) is a national organization that assists with information and standards concerning proper selection, ratings, construction, testing and performance of electrical equipment. NEMA standards are used as guidelines for the manufacture and use of electrical equipment.

Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL)

Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) is an independent organization that tests equipment and products to see if they conform to national codes and standards. Equipment tested and approved by UL carries the UL label, and approved equipment and products are listed in its annual publication.

Canadian Standards Association (CSA)

The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) is a Canadian organization like UL that tests equipment and products to ensure they meet national standards.

Fire extinguisher classes

Fire safety requires procedures to be put in place to reduce the conditions that could cause a fire. All residences should have a fire safety plan that establishes procedures for individuals to follow when a fire occurs. The chance of a fire is significantly reduced by good housekeeping. This can be done by keeping debris and liquids in designated containers. Rags containing oil, gasoline or other solvents must be safely stored in designated containers.

If a fire should occur, the first thing an individual must do is alert everyone in the home or work area and call the fire department. During the time before the fire department arrives, a reasonable effort should be made to contain the fire. In the case of a small fire, portable fire extinguishers should be used to extinguish the fire. The stream from fire extinguishers must be directed to the base of fires. When firefighters arrive, an individual must be prepared to direct the firefighters to the location of the fire. Also, individuals should inform the firefighters of any special problems or conditions that exist, such as burned electrical wires or chemical leaks from equipment.

Fire extinguishers are labeled with operating instructions for extinguishing fires and provide class symbols for each type of fire. Individuals must be aware of how to identify which fire extinguisher to use on what type of fire. The five classes of fires are Class A, Class B, Class C, Class D and Class K fires. Each class is denoted by a letter that informs the user of the type of materials that started the fire and how to extinguish them.

Personal protective equipment

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is clothing and/or equipment used by a technician to reduce the possibility of injury in the work area. The use of PPE is required whenever work may occur on or near energized exposed electrical circuits. The National Fire Protection Association standard NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, addresses “electrical safety requirements for worker workplaces that are essential for the safeguarding of employees in pursuit of gainful employment.”

For maximum safety, PPE and safety requirements must be followed as specified in NFPA 70E, OSHA Standard Part 1910 Subpart 1—Personal Protective Equipment (1910.132 through 1910.138), and other applicable safety mandates. Such equipment includes arc‐rated clothing, head protection, eye protection, ear protection, hand protection, foot protection, back protection, knee protection, rubber insulating matting and arc blast protection.

Per NFPA 70E, “Only qualified persons shall perform testing on or near live parts operating at 50 V or more.” All PPE and tools are selected to be appropriate to the operating voltage (or higher) of the equipment or circuits being worked on or near. Equipment, devices, tools and test instruments must be suited for the work to be performed. In most cases, voltage‐rated gloves and tools are required. Voltage‐rated gloves and tools are rated and tested for the maximum line‐to‐line voltage upon which work will be performed. Protective gloves must be inspected or tested as required for maximum safety before each task.


An understanding of basic electrical safety rules and practices, proper equipment usage and the applicable codes and standards helps prevent accidents and injuries. In addition, an understanding of the correct use of PPE for the working environment helps eliminate or reduce the severity of an injury. Working in the electrical field requires a thorough knowledge of PPE that prevents electrical shock, such as electrical gloves, PPE that reduces the severity of an accident, such as eye and head protection, and testing and maintenance of PPE.

To contact the author of this article, email