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Restricted Approach Boundary

Last updated: January 15, 2019

What Does Restricted Approach Boundary Mean?

The restricted approach boundary is a radius around live equipment that represents an increased risk of shock. The boundary restricts access to exposed and energized electrical equipment in the workplace.

Safeopedia Explains Restricted Approach Boundary

The restricted approach boundary is a concept defined by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The NFPA’s electrical safety standards require that workers entering a restricted approach boundary must meet certain safety obligations, including:

  • Necessary training qualifications
  • A written plan for work in the area that has been approved by management
  • Appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)

The distance between a restricted approach boundary and the electrical hazard it protects against varies depending on the voltage of the hazard. Higher voltages increase the risk and severity of accidental shocks occurring within the boundary.

This, along with all NFPA standards, is not U.S. federal law. It may, however, be used to establish compliance with legally defined obligations, such as OSHA’s general duty standards.

NFPA Approach Boundaries

The restricted approach boundary is used along with the limited approach boundary to prevent injury due to electrical shock and arc flashes.

The limited approach boundary outlines a lower risk area that is further from the energized equipment.

Before 2018, the NFPA 70E standard also included a third boundary: the prohibited approach boundary. This boundary was closer to the energized equipment and demarcated a higher risk area. It has since been eliminated, however, since it made little practical difference as crossing the prohibited approach boundary did not require additional PPE.

Both approach boundaries are identified through a flash hazard assessment.


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