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Environmental Health & Safety

Electrical Safety Program

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Electrical Safety Program


    Electricity is a serious workplace hazard, capable of causing both employee injury and property damage. It is the policy of the University of Rochester, to protect all employees, students, and all other personnel from potential electrical hazards. This will be accomplished through compliance with the work practices long with effective application of engineering controls, administrative controls, and the use of personal protective equipment described herein.

    The University Electrical Safety Program is founded on the principle of avoiding and not permitting energized work unless it is absolutely necessary. Energized electrical conductors or circuit parts will be de-energized before an employee works on or near them unless one of the following conditions applies:
    1. De-energizing introduces additional or increased hazards. Examples of additional or increased hazards would include interruption of life support equipment, deactivation of emergency alarm systems, or shutdown of hazardous location ventilation systems.
    2. De-energizing is not possible due to equipment design or operational limitations. Examples of this situation would include testing and troubleshooting of electrical circuits that can only be performed with the circuit energized and work on circuits that form an integral part of a continuous process that would otherwise need to be completely shut down in order to permit work on one circuit or piece of equipment.
    3. Live parts are operating at less than 50 volts to ground and there is no increased exposure to electrical burns or to explosion due to electrical arcs.

    Energized electrical conductors or circuit parts are to be de-energized in accordance with the University Lockout/Tagout Program. If live parts are not placed in an electrically safe condition, the work practices described in this document must be used to protect employees. Work on live parts or circuits requires the issuance of a Live Work Permit, except as noted in Section V.B.2, Limited Long Term Energized Electrical Work Permit.


    This program applies to all properties owned by the University, and work performed by University employees and contractors regardless of job site location.

    The following terms are defined in order to allow a better understanding of this program:
    1. Arc Flash Hazard: A dangerous condition associated with the possible release of energy caused by an electric arc.
    2. Arc Flash protection boundary: An approach limit at a distance from a prospective arc source within which a person could receive a second-degree burn if an electrical arc flash were to occur. See Appendix B.
    3. Arc rating: The maximum incident energy resistance demonstrated by a material (or a layered system of materials) prior to "breaking open" or at the onset of a second-degree skin burn. This rating is assigned to electrical protective clothing and is normally expressed in calories per square centimeter (cal/cm2).
    4. Electrically safe work condition: A state in which the conductor or circuit part to be worked on or near has been disconnected from energized parts, locked/tagged in accordance with University policy, tested to ensure the absence of voltage, and grounded if determined necessary.
    5. Energized: Electrically connected to or having a source of voltage.
    6. Energized Electrical Work Permit: Used for all approved non-routine live work.
    7. Exposed (as applied to live parts): Capable of being inadvertently touched or approached from closer than a safe distance by a person. It is applied to parts that are not suitably guarded, isolated, or insulated.
    8. Flash hazard analysis: A study investigating a worker's potential exposure to arc-flash energy, conducted for the purpose of injury prevention and the determination of safe work practices along with appropriate levels of PPE.
    9. Flash suit: A complete Fire Resistive (FR) clothing and equipment system that covers the entire body, except for the hands and feet. (Such a suit typically includes pants, jacket, and a bee-keeper style hood fitted with a face shield).
    10. FR apparel: Flame-resistant apparel; describes a broad category of clothing designed to protect employees from electrical arc events during completion of energized tasks.
    11. Incident energy: The amount of energy impressed on a surface, a certain distance from the source, generated during an electrical arc event. One of the units used to measure incident energy is calories per square centimeter (cal/cm2).
    12. Limited approach boundary: An approach limit at a distance from an exposed live part within which a shock hazard exists. See Appendix B.
    13. Limited Long Term Energized Electrical Work Permit: Allows specified live work to be performed by a qualified individual. The permit is good for up to one year and will be renewed annually, as appropriate. Routine work only.
    14. Live parts: Energized conductive components.
    15. Prohibited approach boundary: An approach limit at a distance from an exposed live part within which work is considered the same as making contact with the live part. See Appendix B.
    16. PPE: An acronym for "Personal Protective Equipment".
    17. Qualified person: Through training and experience understands the requirements of the University Program plus OSHA and NFPA 70E. A person who:
      • Has skills and knowledge related to the construction and operation of the electrical equipment and installations
      • Has received safety training to recognize and avoid the hazards involved
      • Has received training to recognize the appropriate level of PPE required
      • Has shown compentency in inspecting and maintaining PPE
      • Has exhibited proficiency for specific procedures i.e. Lock Out/Tag Out
      • Has worked on the specific voltage or calorie level before
      • Can distinguish exposed live parts from other parts
      • Can determine the nominal voltage of live parts
      • Understands clearance distances for the voltages he/she will be exposed to
      Such persons shall be capable of working safely on energized circuits and shall be familiar with the proper use of special precautionary techniques, PPE, insulating and shielding materials, and insulated tools. A person may be "task qualified" - qualified to use certain equipment, but not on equipment of a different nature. The supervisor must determine if someone is qualified.
    18. Restricted approach boundary: An approach limit at a distance from an exposed live part within which there is an increased risk of shock (due to electrical arc-over combined with inadvertent movement) for personnel working in close proximity to the live part.
    19. Unqualified person: Any person who does not meet the definition of a qualified person.
    20. Working On:(energized electrical conductors or circuit parts). Coming in contact with energized electrical conductors or circuit parts with the hands, feet, or other body parts, with tools, probes, or with test equipment, regardless of the Personal Protective Equipment a person is wearing.

Contact EH&S at (585) 275-3241 or e-mail EH&S Questions.

This page last updated 6/18/2020. Disclaimer.