NFPA 79  IS THE INDUSTRIAL MACHINERY STANDARD. Compliance with this standard is critical for ensuring worker safety in industrial settings!

NFPA 79 IS the U.S. Electrical Standard for Industrial Machinery and is referenced by the National Electrical Code NEC under Article 670. Specifically, NFPA 79 applies to the electrical equipment used within a wide variety of machines  and groups of machines. Some examples of industrial machinery include machine tools, injection molding machines, stamping machines, and  material handling machinery (CRANES!).  NFPA 79 encompasses all of the machines’ electrical and electronic elements operating at 1000V or less.

Adopted in all 50 states, the National Electric Code (NEC) or NFPA 70 is the set of rules and regulations for safe electrical design, installation and inspection of electrical wiring and equipment in residential, commercial and industrial locations alike. Whether you’re wiring a house or a crane at an automotive plant in the US, you must be doing so by the NEC.

While the NEC covers electrical products and installations in the field, NFPA 79 is the section that covers the products and installations on the machine. NFPA 79 is seen as voluntary and more of a best practice of standards for machine building across North America. However some states, local authorities and customers in North America are demanding compliance with NFPA 79.

Don’t forget that NEC Article 670 references NFPA 79

Machine (Crane) builders and system manufacturers who export their products to or market their products within North America are subject to the laws and regulations applicable there. One of the important technical standards, apart from the NEC, has always been  the NFPA 79 standard.

The state  or city where the machine (crane) will be operated in determines which edition of NFPA 79 is valid. This means that various editions are valid throughout North America. This is why we here at QCT advise to always take the latest edition into consideration.

The states / cities listed below have adopted NFPA 79 as law!

  • Kentucky
  • Alabama
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Chicago

There are many large insurance underwriters that are also now insisting compliance with NFPA 79.

So does NFPA really apply to cranes. Is a crane considered an industrial machine? YES

According to OSHA NFPA is a reference standard. This means they may not force you to follow it. However they can always reference NFPA 79 in clarification letters or 5A1 General Duty Clause citations.

OSHA has been talking about and referring to NFPA 79 for a long time. It is my belief that if OSHA is talking about it then we in the crane industry to learn about and adhere to this important standard! Waiting  to learn about NFPA 79 until OSHA  begins asking questions about it due to a site visit to your facility from an Incident or death, is not a wise decision.

According to a letter of clarification written to a Mr. Painter in 1990 OSHA does and will use NFPA 79!

OSHA Letter:…. The machines which are not covered by specific OSHA standards are required under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) and Section 29 CFR 1910.303(b)(1) to be free of recognized hazards which may cause death or serious injuries. These machines must be designed and maintained to meet or exceed the requirements of the applicable industry consensus standards. In such situations OSHA may apply standards published by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), such as standards contained in ANSI/NFPA 79, Electrical Standard for Industrial Machinery, to cover the electrical hazards that are not covered by specific OSHA standards.


Wiring and equipment shall comply with subpart S of this part.

  • 303 is part of subpart S, so cranes should comply with NFPA 79!

There are some large corporations in the US that are helping to promote NFPA 79 and are actively working behind the scenes to get this standard adopted into state, local and federal law. One way these companies do this is by making NFPA 79 a requirement for their manufacturing facilities.

NFPA 79 is here to stay and we in the crane industry need to learn and begin to support it, because one day you may see this important standard get adopted into law in a state or city near you!

For further information about NFPA 79 or other crane related industry standards or regulations contact us today!

  • Eric Street is the Technical Director / Owner for Qualified Crane Training and Consulting LLC
  • Qualified Crane Training and Consulting LLC is a provider of training and consultative services for the overhead and mobile crane industries.