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eTools Home :Hurricane eMatrix Credits
 
Infrastructure Repair and Restoration
Restoring Electrical Utilities
List of Activity Sheets
    Photo courtesy of FEMA.  This picture shows actual disaster site work conditions and may not illustrate proper safety and health procedures.
Activity Description
  • This activity sheet is for trained electrical utility workers and supervisors assessing and restoring electrical utility services. For some operations or situations (e.g., permit-required confined space entry, trenching, heavy equipment use) other activity sheets also apply; see related activity sheets below.
  • As a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005), many communities lost their electrical service because the high winds caused electrical lines to fail. This, in combination with water and sediment, also affected electrical distribution equipment.
  • Restoration of the electrical infrastructure will require specially trained and qualified technicians, often from other areas of the country, to assess and repair the damage area-by-area. This work will involve the use of specialized electrical-isolation equipment, frequent use of aerial lifts and ladders, and entry into confined spaces.
  • The utility workers conducting assessment and repair activities should already be familiar with safe work practices and personal protective equipment applicable to restoring electrical services. This activity sheet is intended to remind these response and recovery workers and their supervisors of some of the hazards associated with this work and of the suggested controls appropriate for hurricane-response electrical restoration activities.
  • Those individuals who are not specially trained and certified in assessment and repair of electrical generation, transmission, and distribution systems should avoid contact with such equipment and work only a safe distance from it.
  • Workers conducting this operation may be employed by Federal, State, local, and private employers. Review How to Use This Matrix in the introduction for a discussion of how this information may apply to different workers.

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About the Activity Sheet

This activity sheet does not provide an in-depth analysis of OSHA standards and regulations and cannot address all hazards. It does not increase or diminish any OSHA requirement or employer obligation under those requirements. It is intended as a guide and quick reference for employers and response and recovery workers. The Matrix captures major activities involved in hurricane response and recovery, highlights many of the hazards associated with them, and recommends beneficial work practices, personal protective equipment (PPE), and other exposure control methods. Employers must evaluate the specific hazards associated with the job/operation at the site where the work is being performed.

Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their workers. OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health.

The Hazard Exposure and Risk Assessment Matrix for Hurricane Response and Recovery Work provides a general overview of particular topics related to current OSHA standards. It does not alter or determine compliance responsibilities in OSHA standards or the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, or the equivalent State Plan standards and requirements. Because interpretations and enforcement policy may change over time, you should consult current OSHA/State Plan administrative interpretations and decisions by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and the courts for additional guidance on OSHA compliance requirements. Employers should modify their procedures as appropriate when additional, relevant information becomes available.

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Activity-Specific Sampling and Monitoring Information

  • Work zone safety concerns were found at just under half the work sites OSHA observed. Typically work areas were not adequately marked or separated with signs, cones or barricades.
  • Other common concerns included PPE issues, especially for response and recovery workers in aerial lifts, and exposure to shock and electrocution hazards when live, or potentially live, equipment was not properly insulated or grounded. PPE was either not being worn when needed, or the PPE selected did not provide adequate protection.
  • When aerial lifts were used, fall protection was identified as a concern in roughly one quarter of the work sites observed. Fall protection was not used, or, when used, was not properly anchored.
  • For safety and health monitoring data and sample results, see the Summary of Activity Sampling Data and Safety and Health Monitoring Information.
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General Recommendations

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices. See general recommendations document.

Personal Protective Equipment. The general PPE is recommended for all response/recovery tasks/operations; only the additional PPE that may be needed for a specific hazard is noted below.

General PPE includes:

  • Hard hat for overhead impact or electrical hazards
  • Eye protection with side shields
  • Gloves chosen for job hazards expected (e.g., heavy-duty leather work gloves for handling debris with sharp edges and/or chemical protective gloves appropriate for chemicals potentially contacted)
  • ANSI-approved protective footwear
  • Respiratory protection as necessary-N, R, or P95, filtering facepieces may be used for nuisance dusts (e.g., dried mud, dirt and silt) and mold (except mold remediation). Filters with a charcoal layer may be used for odors.
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Recommendations Specific to Hazards Associated with Restoring Electrical Utilities

WORKING WITH ELECTRICAL LINES

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

    Photo courtesy of FEMA.  This picture shows actual disaster site work conditions and may not illustrate proper safety and health procedures.
  • Assume that electrical lines are energized until proven otherwise; lines may become energized as a result of backfeed from portable generator use, circuit ties/switch point, lightning, or other downstream events
  • Ensure that all workers assessing and repairing electrical installations are qualified; a qualified worker is trained in and has demonstrated familiarity with the construction of the equipment to be accessed/repaired and the hazards involved with their work
  • Ensure that job briefings address hazards associated with the job, work procedures involved, special precautions, the potential for backfeed from portable generator use, energy source controls, and personal protective equipment (PPE) needs; conduct more detailed briefings for complex or unusual work
  • Lines thought to be deenergized may become energized for a number of reasons, including through backfeed from portable generator use; ensure that grounding procedures are accomplished and that all sources of electricity are isolated
  • Determine minimum approach distances, energy isolation techniques (e.g., lockout/ tagout, grounding, or equipotential zone needs), and electrical-specific PPE (gloves, face shields) needed based on the type and approximate voltage of service
  • Use live-line tools that are rated, pass visual inspection, and are up-to-date in their certification
  • Use fall-arrest, work-positioning, or travel-restricting equipment when working more than 4 feet above the ground on poles, towers, or similar structures without fall protection (cages, railings); fall protection equipment is not required to be used by a qualified worker climbing or changing location on poles, towers, or similar structures unless warranted by conditions (weather, design, or presence of hazards)

Additional Personal Protective Equipment

  • Hard hat with appropriate ANSI rating for exposure to high voltage, as needed
  • Appropriately rated and tested electrician's gloves, as needed
  • Footwear with dielectric properties for toe cap, insole, and outsole
  • Non-conductive clothing, as needed
  • Personal fall arrest system including harnesses, lanyards, lifelines, connectors, anchorages, and anchor points (as needed)
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USE OF AERIAL LIFTS AND GENERAL HEAVY EQUIPMENT OPERATION

Photo courtesy of FEMA.  This picture shows actual disaster site work conditions and may not illustrate proper safety and health procedures.

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

Additional Personal Protective Equipment

  • Hearing protection-see Noise hazard
  • When working from an aerial lift, use a body harness that is properly attached (or body belt for tethering or restraint use only) for fall protection



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WORK ZONE SAFETY

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

Additional Personal Protective Equipment

  • ANSI/ISEA 107-2004 compliant high visibility safety apparel and headwear
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CONFINED SPACES

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

  • Confined spaces have limited means of entry or exit, are large enough to bodily enter, and may contain physical (e.g., mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic energy; engulfment hazards; inwardly converging surfaces) or atmospheric hazards (e.g., atmospheres that are oxygen-deficient or oxygen-enriched, contain or may contain flammable gas, vapor or mist, airborne combustible dust, toxic substances, or any other atmosphere that is immediately dangerous to life or health). Examples include storage tanks, process vessels, bins, boilers, vaults, ventilation or exhaust ducts, sewers, tunnels, pipelines, and pits more than 4 feet in depth
  • Hurricane-related events might introduce hazards or potential hazards into confined spaces. For example, a space might have a potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere due to the presence of decomposing organic matter, to the use of hazardous chemicals in the space, or to the performance of operations in the space, such as welding, cutting, or burning, that may create a hazardous atmosphere. Additional precautions must be taken to make the space safe for entry
  • Evaluate the need for entry (i.e., placing any body part into the space)
  • If entry is required, see Entry into Confined Spaces activity sheet
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TRENCHES AND EXCAVATIONS

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

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TREE TRIMMING/REMOVAL TO ACCESS POWER LINES

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

Additional Personal Protective Equipment

  • Chaps
  • Hearing protection-see Noise hazard
  • Eye protection appropriate for additional impact hazard
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IMPROPER LADDER USE

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

  • Inspect ladders for cracked, broken, or defective parts before use
  • Do not exceed the load rating of ladders-remember that load ratings include people, tools, and equipment
  • Set up ladders on stable surfaces
  • Set extension or straight ladders at a 75 degree angle from the ground (1/4 foot back for every foot of rise) and provide 3 feet above an upper landing surface to ease climbing onto/descending from height
  • Use non-conductive ladders (e.g., fiberglass) and exercise extreme caution when working near power lines
  • Secure ladders that can be displaced by work activities; consider barricades at the base to keep traffic away
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STRUCTURAL INSTABILITYPhoto courtesy of OSHA.  This picture shows actual disaster site work conditions and may not illustrate proper safety and health procedures.

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

  • Limit access/set up controlled access zones until stability and structural integrity is known
  • Ensure that a competent person inspects building and floors before entry to perform work. A competent person is able to recognize existing and predictable hazardous conditions and has the authority to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate the hazardous conditions
  • Install temporary structural support (shoring, bracing) adequate to protect response and recovery workers



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POWER AND HAND TOOL USE

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

  • Use ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) or double insulated power tools, or implement an assured equipment grounding program
  • Inspect power tool condition (including any cords) and verify operation of safety features before use
  • Do not use equipment that is defective, such as equipment with inoperable safety switches, missing guards, frayed/cut cords etc.
  • Ground power tools properly
  • Avoid standing in wet areas when using portable power tools

Additional Personal Protective Equipment

  • Hearing protection-see Noise hazard
  • Hand protection for cut- and abrasion-control and vibration dampening
  • Eye protection appropriate to the impact hazard
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ASBESTOS

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

Additional Personal Protective Equipment

  • Based on the initial exposure assessment, select a respirator and protective clothing for visual inspection, sampling, and subsequent abatement work
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WORK ON, OVER, OR NEAR WATER

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

Additional Personal Protective Equipment

  • All personnel should wear Coast Guard-approved Type I or II personal floatation devices
  • Watertight boots with steel toe and insole as needed
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WELDING, CUTTING, AND BURNING

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

    Photo courtesy of OSHA.  This picture shows actual disaster site work conditions and may not illustrate proper safety and health procedures.
  • Remove flammable and combustible materials from the area
  • Do not perform "hot work" such as welding, cutting, or burning in areas where flammable, combustible, corrosive, or toxic substances are being used, stored, or may otherwise be present
  • Maintain a fire watch during all hot work until material has cooled
  • Ensure fire extinguishers and extinguishing agents are available in the immediate area
  • Provide natural, exhaust, or forced ventilation to control exposure to the metal fumes and other contaminants being generated (e.g., generator exhaust)
  • Ensure that pipes and other vessels are purged of hazardous materials
  • Identify building materials that will be welded, cut, or burned and that may contain lead, such as painted surfaces and pipes. Test materials and provide exposure controls identified in 29 CFR 1926.62 as necessary; see the lead hazard in the general recommendations document

Additional Personal Protective Equipment

  • Gloves and protective clothing for the activity being performed
  • At a minimum, filtered lenses and face-protection as appropriate for the activity being performed
  • Respiratory protection based on anticipated exposure to metal fumes, including lead
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GENERATOR USE

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

  • Never attach a generator directly to the electrical system of a structure unless a qualified electrician has installed a transfer switch for the generator. If the structure's electrical system is not isolated, it may energize the utility's wiring system for great distances and create a risk of electrocution for utility workers and others in the area
  • Always plug electrical equipment directly into the generator using the manufacturer's supplied cords or grounded (3-pronged) extension cords that are rated for the total anticipated load
  • Do not overload a generator; it can overheat and create a fire hazard
  • Ground and bond generators according to the manufacturer's recommendations; ensure that any manufacturer-required connections are secure before using the generator
  • Keep the generator dry; protect with a canopy if needed; do not use it in wet or rainy conditions
  • Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous, colorless, and odorless gas that is produced by the incomplete burning of the generator's fuel. CO is harmful when breathed because it displaces oxygen in the blood and deprives the heart, brain, and other vital organs of oxygen
  • Never use a generator indoors or in enclosed spaces such as garages and basements; opening windows and doors may not prevent CO from building up in those spaces. Do not use a generator outdoors near doors, windows, and vents that could allow CO to enter
  • Ensure that a generator has 3 to 4 feet of clear space on all sides and above it to ensure adequate ventilation and cooling
  • Before refueling, shut down the generator and allow it to cool

Additional Personal Protective Equipment

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NOISE

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

  • Place generators, compressors, and other noisy equipment at a distance or behind a barrier when possible

Additional Personal Protective Equipment

  • Hearing protection when working around potential noise sources and when noise levels exceed 90 dBA. A useful "rule of thumb"-if you cannot hold a conversation in a normal speaking voice with a person who is standing at arms length (approximately 3 feet), the noise level may exceed 90 dBA
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EXPOSURE TO CONTAMINATED WATER AND/OR FLOODWATERS

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

  • Reduce the exposure to splash or aerosolized liquid hazards by limiting the number of people in the area and having those in the area stay upwind of water discharge areas
  • Ensure that good hygiene, especially hand washing, is practiced before eating, drinking, and smoking. If clean water is not available, use an alternative such as hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes
  • Ensure that cuts and bruises are protected from contact with contaminated water
  • Clean areas of the body that come in contact with contaminated water with soap and water, hand sanitizer, or sanitizing wipes

Additional Personal Protective Equipment

  • Goggles if routinely working near splashing floodwater
  • N, R, or P95 respirators may be necessary for exposure to contaminated water that may become aerosolized
  • Watertight boots with steel toe and insoles
  • Waterproof gloves for contact with contaminated water
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DISCOVERY OF UNKNOWN CHEMICALS

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

  • If hazardous chemical containers are found or leaking materials are detected:
    • Do not use spark-producing devices (e.g., engines, tools, electronic, and communications equipment) in the immediate area
    • Take self-protective measures (i.e., move to a safe distance upwind) and contact hazardous material response personnel for evaluation/removal before continuing work in the area

Additional Personal Protective Equipment

  • Evaluate the need to revise protective clothing, respirator, and glove selection
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OTHER POTENTIAL HAZARDS

Select any of the following potential hazards that can be associated with this activity in order to access relevant recommendations in the general recommendations document:

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Additional Medical Needs
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Additional Training Needs

  • Follow general site- and task-specific training guidelines as outlined in the general recommendations document
  • All electrical restoration utility workers should be qualified in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.269
  • Job briefings prior to beginning the work (or prior to each day's work or the start of each shift for repetitive assignments). Additional job briefings shall be held if significant changes, which might affect the safety of the workers, occur during the course of the work

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Related Activity Sheets

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Other Resources and References

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Accessibility Assistance: Contact the OSHA Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 693-2300 for assistance accessing PDF materials.

*These files are provided for downloading.
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