Are You Qualified to Do Live Electrical Work?
Read This Before You Answer


Bobby Lindsey


What does it mean to be a Qualified Person in the electrical world? NFPA 70E defines a 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.”

What does this mean exactly? Is an electrician automatically qualified to do live electrical work? The answer is no. A license, diploma, or certificate does not necessarily make you a qualified person.

For example, let’s take an experienced electrician who has been working for twenty years at the same industrial plant, which has no emergency power system. The electrician then takes a job in a maintenance position at a hospital. Although he is an electrician, he is not qualified to engage in work on Generators or Automatic Transfer Switches. This otherwise experienced electrician has no experience, training, or demonstrable skills in emergency power systems. However, a worker in the same hospital, who may not be an electrician, could be qualified for emergency system maintenance based on skills, experience, and training.

In addition, a person might be qualified to perform a specific task on specific equipment, while being unqualified to perform another task on the same equipment. NFPA 70E wants us to be task specific and equipment specific when determining a qualified person.


NFPA 110.6(A)(1) – “A Qualified person shall be trained and knowledgeable in the construction and operation of equipment or a specific work method and be trained to identify and avoid the electrical hazards that might be present with respect to that equipment or work method.”

NFPA is looking for these six traits:

1. Trained and Knowledgeable in these areas:

 Construction and operation of equipment

 Work procedures for each type of task

 Identifying and avoiding electrical hazards

 Safe work practices

2. Ability to Identify and Understand:

 Hazards associated with the equipment

 Hazards associated with the task

 Approach boundary distances

 Signs of impending equipment failure

3. Familiarity with proper use of these items:

 Precautionary techniques


 Insulated tools and equipment

 Test instruments

4. Possession of these skills:

 Ability to distinguish exposed energized electrical parts from other parts

 Ability to determine nominal system voltage

 Ability to inspect and test PPE and test instruments

5. Exhibits necessary decision-making ability for these tasks:

 Perform job safety planning

 Assess the risk

 Select appropriate risk control methods

6. Possession of these skills:

 Perform procedures to safely complete the task

 Establish an electrically-safe work condition

This list of necessary traits and required abilities may seem a bit daunting, and in many respects, it is. Afterall, performing live electrical work is a dangerous job and becoming qualified to do this work should not be easy. To put it simply, qualification comes down to training, knowledge, and skills concerning specific tasks and equipment and the ability to demonstrate one’s training, knowledge, and skills in the field.

I encourage you to learn and become familiar with NFPA 70E 110.6(A)(1) for further details on what constitutes a qualified person. This can be an invaluable guide to outlining the proper classroom training, on the job training, and skills necessary to be considered qualified for electrical work.

Thank you for your time. Mitchell & Lindsey offers Arc Flash Risk Assessments and Electrical Safety Training. If we can be of service to you in these areas or if you have any questions about this article, please reach out to me at the email or phone number below.

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Thank you and be safe!
Bobby Lindsey – CESCP
Mitchell & Lindsey – President
M: (502) 836-4217

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