By Jeffrey Cusack
Last updated: July 25, 2021

What Does Barricade Mean?

A barricade, in the context of electrical safety, is any object or device erected to prevent unqualified persons from accessing an area where energized electrical equipment is present. It acts as an engineering control, reducing risk by ensuring that unqualified persons keep their distance from the electrical hazard.

In the United States, the use of barricades to prevent access to energized electrical systems is mandated by OSHA and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Safeopedia Explains Barricade

Electrical hazards are one of the most common causes of workplace fatality, and as such, any company that deals with electrical systems is obligated to comply with several different mandatory regulations and standards. The specific safety requirements that are required for work near, or on, electrical equipment vary based on the nature of the equipment itself. The use of a barricade is primarily required in situations where electrical workers are operating on or near energized equipment.

Energized equipment is any equipment which is connected to, or is itself, a source of voltage. Electrical safety regulations put forward by OSHA, the NFPA and other recognized organizations generally require electrical equipment to be de-energized before anyone may work on them; however, in some cases this is not possible. As work on energized equipment is often very hazardous, the use of a barricade ensures that no unqualified person can enter the area in which the hazard is present.

The erection of a barrier is not by itself sufficient to meet most jurisdictions’ OHS standards – the minimum safe distance between an electrical system and an individual depends on the specific electrical qualities of the system itself. The NFPA 70e standard requires that employers use specific, standardized calculations to ensure that barricades are placed far enough away from a particular piece of equipment to prevent unauthorized persons from crossing into an unsafe area. The calculated minimum safe distance from an electrical system is known as an “approach boundary.”

In some contexts, “barricade” may simply refer to warning signage designed to dissuade unqualified persons from entering the hazardous area, but which do not actually provide a physical barrier. For the purpose of electrical safety, however, the barricade is usually a physical obstacle.


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