The Real Definition of “Qualified Electrical Worker”

Brent Mollenhauer, CSP, CESCP – Sr. Safety Trainer, ESCO Group

Electrician installing Ethernet cableThere are many companies that provide electrical safety (NFPA 70E) training. I notice many of those training programs have “Qualified” in the title. Companies that seek this training for their workforce are looking for that word “Qualified” because they know that OSHA and NFPA 70E state that the employees that perform certain tasks shall be “Qualified.”

Whether the training you take is one day – or one week, your employees will NOT be fully “Qualified” per the OSHA and NFPA 70E definitions with that course alone. I do not believe any training provider is trying to mislead potential customers by using “Qualified” in the title of their class (we do), but companies need to know that there is more to it than one training course to completely qualify workers.

There are two key components for qualified workers:

#1 – Electrical Safe Work Practices. This can be accomplished through classroom training, with an instructor that is well versed in the OSHA and NFPA 70E requirements (and hopefully a good speaker with a passion for electrical safety!).

#2 – Task-specific training. This is NOT performed in a classroom. For our union electricians, this is accomplished over a 5-year apprenticeship where the apprentice learns from various Journeymen Electricians that are highly skilled in the trade. Now, the 5-year path is not a requirement for maintenance workers that may perform electrical tasks, but you can NOT accomplish this in a few days of training. I absolutely love those mobile testing units that are available for training, they give folks a great taste of what using multimeters is like and other small tasks…but there is more to it.

Qualified workers have been trained and have demonstrated skills on specific tasks or equipment and can identify all the hazards associated with that task or equipment. This takes time and practice.

I see a lot of companies that miss either #1 or #2 above…make certain you have a good plan in place to tackle BOTH to ensure your employees get home safe!