What is CSA-Z462?


By Jeff MacKinnon, P.Eng., PE

If you're going to be doing any job involving electricity, it's important to know how to keep yourself safe. If you're looking for a standard and you live in Canada, then you have to look no farther than CSA Z462. source.

CSA Z462 is the Canadian Standard for Workplace Electrical Safety. It is developed in parallel with NFPA 70E: the American Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace.

The first edition of CSA Z462 was published in 2008. Prior to that, Canada did not have a specific standard related to electrical safety in the workplace. The Canadian Electrical Code existed, but was used for designing and installing electrical systems, and did not necessarily address safe electrical working practices. According to CSA group, in 2006, “On average, every day, five Canadians die as a result of work-related accidents and diseases… Canada currently ranks among the worst countries in the developed world in occupational health and safety”. “Across Canada in 2007 there were 472 known injuries with electric current on the job and nine fatalities. The previous year there were 567 injuries and 20 fatalities.” At the time, Canadians used an American standard for workplace electrical safety: NFPA 70E. The time had come for Canada to have its own electrical workplace safety standard tailored to suit Canadian federal and provincial regulations.

CSA Z462 is a CSA group standard: it is not enforced, but it is recommended for use by anyone in Canada working in an industry where energized electrical equipment is present. “It is intended for use with Parts I, II, III of the Canadian Electrical Code; and, has been harmonized with CAN/CSA-Z460, Control of hazardous energy — Lockout and other methods; and CAN/CSA-M421, Use of electricity in mines”.

For your electrical safety program, you must meet the requirements of the Canadian Labour Code as well as the requirements of any provincial legal regulations. The Canadian Labour Code and those provincial regulations will point you to the Canadian Electrical Code. The Canadian Electrical Code will point you to CSA Z462 as the minimum recommended standard for electrical workplace safety. In other words, if the Canadian Labour Code and provincial regulations tell you “what” your safety program needs to do, CSA Z462 tells you “how” to do it.

CSA Z462 covers electrical safety-related work practices, electrical safety-related maintenance requirements, and electrical safety requirements for special equipment. CSA Z462 is developed parallel to NFPA 70E, and in many cases uses the same data, calculations, and charts for things like personal protective equipment (PPE) and incident energy or arc flash boundary calculations. It is published and updated in conjunction with the Canadian Electrical Code, as well as CSA Z460 (Hazardous Energy Control) and the new Z463 Guideline on Maintenance of Electrical Systems.

The third and current edition of CSA Z462 is Z462-15. Published in 2015, the third edition brings a number of major changes, including:

  • Elimination of prohibited approach boundary and HRC Category "0"
  • Enhanced clarification of risk assessment procedures for hazardous electrical systems
  • Hierarchy of control applied to risk mitigation
  • Considerations on condition of equipment
  • New requirement for audits of field work
  • New section on human performance and electrical safety

The third edition also improves upon the previous edition with:

  • Improved direction on hazard identification and risk assessment
  • New safety procedures and assessment tables for work around DC systems
  • New tables for the selection of personal protective equipment
  • Added guidance on safe procedures and training
  • New Annexes on safety around high-voltage systems and electrostatic discharges
  • Updated with the 2015 Canadian Electrical Code and the new Z463 Guideline on Maintenance of Electrical Systems
  • Incorporates the principles and procedures detailed in the new Z463 Guideline on Maintenance of Electrical Systems
  • Updated in conjunction with updates of the CE Code and CSA Z460 (Hazardous Energy Control)
  • New criteria and advice on risk assessment and risk-based decision making

CSA Z462-15 has three major sections:

  • Safety-related work practices
  • Safety-related maintenance practices
  • Safety requirements for special equipment

As you might have noticed, the key similarity between all three of these major sections is safety. The current edition of CSA Z462 places a great emphasis on safety, including the development of an electrical safety program in conjunction with your workplace's occupational health and safety program. CSA Z462-15 also has a list of informative annexes, including one devoted specifically to electrical safety programs.