What Is A Qualified Electrician?

What Is A Qualified Electrician

Workers exposed to electrical hazards must be qualified for that exposure and the task they are performing. NFPA 70E and OSHA have similar definitions with similar requirements concerning what it means to be qualified. In this article, I will help you understand what makes a qualified electrical worker.

Limitations Of Live Electrical Work

First, let’s begin with the limitations of live electrical work. Hopefully, the only live work your people are performing is verification of zero volts during lockout/tagout and maybe some troubleshooting and other diagnostic work. Repair of electrical circuits, that is replacing of components or altering the circuit in any way, should not be done live. OSHA and 70E have requirements which limit, and in most cases forbid this work. But, that’s a subject for another article. A qualified electrical worker must verify zero volts during lockout tagout, and that’s live work.

Am I A Qualified Electrician?

In my opinion, it takes years to become a qualified electrician or electrical worker who can safely work on and around energized equipment. You have to have received training on and possess a demonstrable knowledge of the electrical equipment installations, operation, construction, as well as the hazards involved and how to reduce the risk. As an example, if an electrician is knowledgeable about the equipment, but has never been trained on the required safety procedures, PPE or risk assessments; they can’t be considered qualified. On the flip said, if a worker is knowledgeable about the safety procedures but not the equipment; they can’t be considered qualified either. To be considered qualified, you have to know the equipment and know the safe way to work on the equipment. It takes years to accomplish this, and the training should never end because technology and safety standards continue to advance. OSHA and NFPA 70E have a list of training topics and skills for qualified electrical workers that you can use a checklist to see where you are.

Only The Employer Can Designate A Worker As Qualified

There is no blanket certification program you can send your people to that can designate them qualified. Only the employer can designate them as qualified. The only thing an outside training organization can do is provide the training that the worker must have before the employer should consider them qualified.

Who Needs To Be Qualified?

Regardless of job classification, any worker who is exposed to live electrical hazards must be qualified to work safely around that hazard. That includes electricians, electrical and electronic repair techs, multi-craft maintenance workers, assembly workers building and testing electrical equipment, and engineers of various disciplines.

A worker can become qualified on some tasks and not others. Some of my clients train equipment operators to operate the disconnects for their machines. Although they are not exposed to shock hazards, because the disconnects aren’t opened, they are trained on the arc flash hazard which could occur when operating a large disconnect. They are trained on those tasks to disconnect their equipment safely. This does not make them a qualified electrical worker ready to join the maintenance department. But it does make them a qualified worker on their narrow set of tasks.

Documentation

Your company needs to have a documented list of which employees are qualified for what tasks and have a checklist of what that individual qualification requires them to be trained on and demonstrate to you they can safely do it. If OSHA or a corporate safety auditor visits your facility and witnesses an employee doing live work, their first questions will include, is that worker qualified for that task and can I see your documentation.

Conclusion

All workers who are exposed to electrical hazards must be trained for that exposure and task. The training should never end as standards and technology continue to advance. Only the employer can designate someone qualified. OSHA and 70E have a checklist of topics and skills a qualified electrical worker must be proficient at and trained on.