Electrical safety

Working unsafely around electricity can result in serious injuries, ranging from shock to severe burns. Injuries and fatalities can result from contact with low-voltage (up to 750 V) as well as high-voltage (more than 750 V) electricity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Definitions: “electrical hazard means a danger of electric shock, arc flash burn, thermal burn, or blast injury resulting from contact with electrical equipment or failure of that equipment

When electrical conductors and circuit parts are exposed:

  • During the performance of work tasks that involve human interaction with exposed conductors or circuit parts, such as testing or troubleshooting, and/or
  • When equipment doors or covers are open or not secured, and energized parts are exposed.

When equipment is not in a normal equipment condition (see Z462-21 clause for a description of normal equipment condition). Situations when equipment is not in a normal equipment condition can include, but are not limited to:

  • Overheating caused by loose connections or overcurrent
  • When equipment is not regularly maintained per manufacturer’s recommendations or relevant standards (such as CSA Z463, NFPA 70B, NETA MTS, and IEEE 3007.2 see Z462-21 clause 5.1)
  • When conductive contaminations accumulate on electrical insulation or insulators
  • When equipment is not properly installed or used per manufacturer’s specifications and Canadian Electrical Code Part I and Part II
  • When the electrical equipment displays any of the following indicators of potential failure:
    • Discoloration
    • Swelling
    • Arcing marks
    • Corona discharge
    • Water stains

CSA Z462-21 clause describes “normal equipment condition” as when each of the following conditions are satisfied:

  1. the equipment is properly installed
  2. the equipment is properly maintained
  3. the equipment is used in accordance with instruction included in the applicable Canadian Electrical Code, Part II standard and in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
  4. all equipment doors are closed and secured
  5. all equipment covers are in place and secured; and,
  6. there is no evidence of impending failure.

If the electrical equipment is in a normal equipment condition, equipment failure is unlikely to occur.

When there are circumstances or situations where contact or equipment failure could occur.

Definitions: “electrically safe work condition” means, with respect to electrical equipment that operates at 30 VAC volts or 60 VDC or more, a state in which an electrical conductor or a circuit part has been disconnected from energized parts of the electrical equipment, locked out, tested to ensure the absence of voltage and, if necessary, grounded.

Other than normal operation of electrical equipment in a normal equipment condition, a person needs to be qualified per the definition of qualified person [see 287 (1) of General Regulation 91-191].

Section 286 states: a “qualified person” means

(a) when applied to work on electrical equipment, a person who meets the requirements of section 11 or 24 of New Brunswick Regulation 84-165 under The Electrical Installation and Inspection Act;

(c) when applied to work referred to in paragraph (a), a person who is 

  1. knowledgeable about the provisions of this Act and the regulations that apply to the assigned work; and, 
  2. knowledgeable about the actual and potential actual dangers to health and safety associated with the assigned work. 

This means the qualified person can identify hazards involved with the task, conduct a risk assessment, and apply risk control measures from the hierarchy of risk control.

See CSA Z462-21 definition of qualified person:

“One who has demonstrated skills and knowledge related to the construction and operation of electrical equipment and installations and has received safety training to identify the hazards and reduce the associated risk.”

287.1(1) An employer shall ensure that the entrance to a room containing an electrical hazard is marked with conspicuous warning signs, symbols or tags stating that entry by unauthorized persons is prohibited.

A part of a building that has its own walls, floor and ceiling and is usually used for a particular purpose where electrical hazards are present. An electrical hazard would not be present if the electrical equipment is in a normal equipment condition. See Question 1.

Note: This regulation supplements the warning notice requirements for high-voltage installations per the Canadian Electrical Code clause 36-006.

No, because an electrical hazard should not be present. Refer to Question 1.

287.1(2) An employer shall ensure that no person enters, or is permitted to enter, a room or other enclosure with electrical hazards unless the person is:

(a) a qualified person; or,

(b) an employee who enters the room or enclosure to complete a duty not involving an electrical hazard and the employee is instructed and trained in the electrical hazards.

Normally, an electrical hazard should not be present. However, if this is unavoidable, the unqualified person should be trained in the normal operation of electrical equipment and trained to identify normal equipment condition and how to identify electrical hazards. See Q1.

A fence, walls or housing surrounding electrical equipment to prevent persons from accidentally contacting energized electrical conductors or circuit parts.

Any duty that does not involve an electrical hazard such as:

  • Normal operation of a disconnecting means of electrical equipment operating under 750 volts that is in a normal equipment condition for the purpose of locking out a machine or for controlling a process such as shutting off a machine
  • Performing non-electrical tasks on equipment supplied by the electrical installation such as the ventilation system
  • Reading metering equipment with equipment in a normal equipment condition.

287.3(4) An employer shall ensure that before a qualified person works on electrical equipment

(a) an electrically safe work condition is established, and

(b) each qualified person who will be working on the electrical equipment

  • verifies that an electrically safe work condition is established,

Yes. The qualified person would need to verify the equipment is in an electrically safe work condition by testing circuitry, visually verifying that all blades of the disconnecting devices are fully open or that drawout-type circuit breakers are withdrawn to the fully disconnected position and would also apply the lockout devices according to a documented and established procedure.

287.4(1) An employer and a qualified person shall each ensure that all testing and troubleshooting of electrical equipment is conducted in an electrically safe work condition.

Yes, a code of practice could be developed for a specific scope of work for a repeated task, or a specific scope of work provided the document contains all the information required by 287.41(1).

287.3(3) An employer shall establish a written lock out procedure for electrical equipment and ensure that a qualified person who may be required to lock out the electrical equipment is adequately instructed and trained to lock out the electrical equipment.

Yes, a code of practice is needed within the lockout procedure. The validation for the absence of voltage occurs before the equipment in an electrically safe work condition. Therefore, a code of practice must be included in a written lockout procedure and must provide details on how the validation of the absence of voltage will be performed safely.  

Certain tasks such as troubleshooting of control circuits, testing, and diagnostics are not feasible when electrical equipment has been completely disconnected. In these circumstances a code of practice will need to be developed and must provide details on how the work will be performed safely.

See Canadian Electrical Code CSA C22.1:21, Appendix B Subrule 2-304

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