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ELECTRIC POWER GENERATION, TRANSMISSION, AND DISTRIBUTION WORK
and
ELECTRICAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT

Small Entity Compliance Guide
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
U.S. Department of Labor
DOL

Table of Contents

I.Introduction

II. How to Use This Guide

III. Where to Go for Additional Assistance

IV. Important Definitions

V. Summary and Explanation of the Final Rule

VI. Appendices to the Electric Power Standards

VII. Other Sources of Information on the Electric Power Standards

Appendix-Federal and State OSHA and Consultation Offices

  1. OSHA Area Offices
  2. OSHA Regional Offices
  3. States with Approved Occupational Safety and Health Plans
  4. OSHA Consultation Project Directory

I. Introduction

This guide will help small businesses comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) general industry and construction standards on electric power generation, transmission, and distribution work and on electrical protective equipment (electric power standards). Employees performing electric power work are exposed to a wide range of hazards, including fall, electric-shock, and arc-flash hazards. This guide describes the steps employers must take to protect workers from those hazards.

This document is an interim small entity compliance guide, for which OSHA assembled existing material explaining the content of these standards and how to comply with them. OSHA published the final rule containing these standards in the Federal Register on April 11, 2014, and the Agency extracted much of this guide from that document.

This document provides guidance only and does not alter or determine compliance responsibilities, which are set forth in OSHA standards and the Occupational Safety and Health Act. This guide does not replace the official electric power standards, which can be found by following the links in VII, Other Sources of Information on the Electric Power Standards. Employers must refer to the appropriate standard to ensure that they are in compliance. Moreover, because interpretations and enforcement policy develop over time, for additional guidance on OSHA compliance requirements, employers should consult current interpretations issued by OSHA and decisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and the courts.

In 27 States and U.S. territories, OSHA standards are enforced by a State agency responsible for an OSHA-approved State Plan. The 21 States and one U.S. territory with OSHA-approved occupational safety and health plans covering private employers and State and local government employees are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming. In addition, four States and one U.S. Territory have OSHA-approved State Plans that apply to State and local government employees only: Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and the Virgin Islands. State Plans must adopt and enforce standards that are either identical to or at least as effective as the federal standards. They must also extend the coverage of their standards to State and local government employees.

II. How to Use This Guide

The guide contains material extracted from the electric power standards and preamble. The fourth section of the guide contains important definitions from the standards. And the fifth section contains the summary and explanation of the standards as it appears in the final rule published on April 11, 2014, as corrected by a Federal Register notice published on _____, 2014. Note that there might be some formatting and other minor differences between the summary and explanation contained here and the version published in the April 11 final rule. Any such differences are nonsubstantive.

The sixth section of the guide contains links to appendices to the electric power standards. Those appendices explain the most technically challenging portions of the standards, including determining minimum approach distances, protecting workers from hazardous differences in electric potential, and protecting workers from arc-flash hazards.

The last section of the guide lists other sources of information about the standards, including frequently asked questions, a fact sheet, a minimum approach distance calculator, and links to the electric power standards.

Finally, an appendix lists OSHA Area and Regional offices; the addresses and phone numbers of State agencies that administer OSHA-approved State plans; and the addresses and phone numbers of OSHA Consultation Service offices.

III. Where to Go for Additional Assistance

For additional assistance in complying with the electric power standards, contact the nearest OSHA Area Office. If you are unable to contact the OSHA Area Office, you can contact the appropriate OSHA Regional Office for information or assistance. If you are located in a State that operates an OSHA-approved State plan, you may contact the responsible State agency for information and assistance. See the appendix to this guide for the addresses and phone numbers of these offices.

The OSHA Consultation Service is another important resource for additional assistance. The service is largely funded by OSHA and is delivered by State governments using well trained professional staff. Primarily intended for smaller businesses, the consultation program is free of charge to employers and is completely separate from OSHA inspection efforts. The consultation services do not issue citations or propose penalties.

IV. Important Definitions

The electric power standards include definitions of terms used in those standards. The following are definitions for some important terms. These :definitions are taken from the general industry standard at 29 CFR 1910.269. Please note that the definitions in 29 CFR 1926, Subpart V may vary slightly from the definitions presented here.

Attendant. An employee assigned to remain immediately outside the entrance to an enclosed or other space to render assistance as needed to employees inside the space.

Barricade. A physical obstruction such as tapes, cones, or A-frame type wood or metal structures that provides a warning about, and limits access to, a hazardous area.

Barrier. A physical obstruction that prevents contact with energized lines or equipment or prevents unauthorized access to a work area.

Bond. The electrical interconnection of conductive parts designed to maintain a common electric potential.

Cable. A conductor with insulation, or a stranded conductor with or without insulation and other coverings (single-conductor cable), or a combination of conductors insulated from one another (multiple-conductor cable).

Circuit. A conductor or system of conductors through which an electric current is intended to flow.

Clearance (between objects). The clear distance between two objects measured surface to surface.

Clearance (for work). Authorization to perform specified work or permission to enter a restricted area.

Conductor. A material, usually in the form of a wire, cable, or bus bar, used for carrying an electric current.

Contract employer. An employer, other than a host employer, that performs work covered by this section under contract.

Deenergized. Free from any electrical connection to a source of potential difference and from electric charge; not having a potential that is different from the potential of the earth.

Note to the definition of "deenergized": The term applies only to current-carrying parts, which are sometimes energized (alive).

Enclosed space. A working space, such as a manhole, vault, tunnel, or shaft, that has a limited means of egress or entry, that is designed for periodic employee entry under normal operating conditions, and that, under normal conditions, does not contain a hazardous atmosphere, but may contain a hazardous atmosphere under abnormal conditions.

Energized (alive, live). Electrically connected to a source of potential difference, or electrically charged so as to have a potential significantly different from that of earth in the vicinity.

Equipment (electric). A general term including material, fittings, devices, appliances, fixtures, apparatus, and the like used as part of or in connection with an electrical installation.

Exposed, Exposed to contact (as applied to energized parts). Not isolated or guarded.

Fall restraint system. A fall protection system that prevents the user from falling any distance.

First-aid training. Training in the initial care, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (which includes chest compressions, rescue breathing, and, as appropriate, other heart and lung resuscitation techniques), performed by a person who is not a medical practitioner, of a sick or injured person until definitive medical treatment can be administered.

Ground. A conducting connection, whether planned or unplanned, between an electric circuit or equipment and the earth, or to some conducting body that serves in place of the earth.

Grounded. Connected to earth or to some conducting body that serves in place of the earth.

Guarded. Covered, fenced, enclosed, or otherwise protected, by means of suitable covers or casings, barrier rails or screens, mats, or platforms, designed to minimize the possibility, under normal conditions, of dangerous approach or inadvertent contact by persons or objects.

Note to the definition of "guarded": Wires that are insulated, but not otherwise protected, are not guarded.

Hazardous atmosphere. An atmosphere that may expose employees to the risk of death, incapacitation, impairment of ability to self-rescue (that is, escape unaided from an enclosed space), injury, or acute illness from one or more of the following causes:

(1) Flammable gas, vapor, or mist in excess of 10 percent of its lower flammable limit (LFL);

(2) Airborne combustible dust at a concentration that meets or exceeds its LFL;

Note to the definition of "hazardous atmosphere" (2): This concentration may be approximated as a condition in which the dust obscures vision at a distance of 1.52 meters (5 feet) or less.

(3) Atmospheric oxygen concentration below 19.5 percent or above 23.5 percent;

(4) Atmospheric concentration of any substance for which a dose or a permissible exposure limit is published in Subpart G, Occupational Health and Environmental Control, or in Subpart Z, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, of this part and which could result in employee exposure in excess of its dose or permissible exposure limit;

Note to the definition of "hazardous atmosphere" (4): An atmospheric concentration of any substance that is not capable of causing death, incapacitation, impairment of ability to self-rescue, injury, or acute illness due to its health effects is not covered by this provision.

(5) Any other atmospheric condition that is immediately dangerous to life or health.

Note to the definition of "hazardous atmosphere" (5): For air contaminants for which the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has not determined a dose or permissible exposure limit, other sources of information, such as Material Safety Data Sheets that comply with the Hazard Communication Standard, §1910.1200, published information, and internal documents can provide guidance in establishing acceptable atmospheric conditions.

High wind. A wind of such velocity that one or more of the following hazards would be present:

(1) The wind could blow an employee from an elevated location,

(2) The wind could cause an employee or equipment handling material to lose control of the material, or

(3) The wind would expose an employee to other hazards not controlled by the standard involved.

Note to the definition of "high wind": The Occupational Safety and Health Administration normally considers winds exceeding 64.4 kilometers per hour (40 miles per hour), or 48.3 kilometers per hour (30 miles per hour) if the work involves material handling, as meeting this criteria, unless the employer takes precautions to protect employees from the hazardous effects of the wind.

Host employer. An employer that operates, or that controls the operating procedures for, an electric power generation, transmission, or distribution installation on which a contract employer is performing work covered by this section.

Note to the definition of "host employer": The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will treat the electric utility or the owner of the installation as the host employer if it operates or controls operating procedures for the installation. If the electric utility or installation owner neither operates nor controls operating procedures for the installation, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will treat the employer that the utility or owner has contracted with to operate or control the operating procedures for the installation as the host employer. In no case will there be more than one host employer.

Immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH). Any condition that poses an immediate or delayed threat to life or that would cause irreversible adverse health effects or that would interfere with an individual's ability to escape unaided from a permit space.

Note to the definition of "immediately dangerous to life or health": Some materials-hydrogen fluoride gas and cadmium vapor, for example-may produce immediate transient effects that, even if severe, may pass without medical attention, but are followed by sudden, possibly fatal collapse 12 - 72 hours after exposure. The victim "feels normal" from recovery from transient effects until collapse. Such materials in hazardous quantities are considered to be "immediately" dangerous to life or health.

Insulated. Separated from other conducting surfaces by a dielectric (including air space) offering a high resistance to the passage of current.

Note to the definition of "insulated": When any object is said to be insulated, it is understood to be insulated for the conditions to which it normally is subjected. Otherwise, it is, for the purpose of this section, uninsulated.

Insulation (cable). Material relied upon to insulate the conductor from other conductors or conducting parts or from ground.

Isolated. Not readily accessible to persons unless special means for access are used.

Line-clearance tree trimmer. An employee who, through related training or on-the-job experience or both, is familiar with the special techniques and hazards involved in line-clearance tree trimming.

Note 1 to the definition of "line-clearance tree trimmer": An employee who is regularly assigned to a line-clearance tree-trimming crew and who is undergoing on-the-job training and who, in the course of such training, has demonstrated an ability to perform duties safely at his or her level of training and who is under the direct supervision of a line-clearance tree trimmer is considered to be a line-clearance tree trimmer for the performance of those duties.

Note 2 to the definition of "line-clearance tree trimmer": A line-clearance tree trimmer is not considered to be a "qualified employee" under this section unless he or she has the training required for a qualified employee under paragraph (a)(2)(ii) of this section. However, under the electrical safety-related work practices standard in Subpart S of this part, a line-clearance tree trimmer is considered to be a "qualified employee". Tree trimming performed by such "qualified employees" is not subject to the electrical safety-related work practice requirements contained in §1910.331 through 1910.335 of this part. (See also the note following §1910.332(b)(3) of this part for information regarding the training an employee must have to be considered a qualified employee under §1910.331 through 1910.335 of this part.)

Line-clearance tree trimming. The pruning, trimming, repairing, maintaining, removing, or clearing of trees, or the cutting of brush, that is within the following distance of electric supply lines and equipment:

(1) For voltages to ground of 50 kilovolts or less-3.05 meters (10 feet);

(2) For voltages to ground of more than 50 kilovolts-3.05 meters (10 feet) plus 0.10 meters (4 inches) for every 10 kilovolts over 50 kilovolts.

Lines. (1) Communication lines. The conductors and their supporting or containing structures which are used for public or private signal or communication service, and which operate at potentials not exceeding 400 volts to ground or 750 volts between any two points of the circuit, and the transmitted power of which does not exceed 150 watts. If the lines are operating at less than 150 volts, no limit is placed on the transmitted power of the system. Under certain conditions, communication cables may include communication circuits exceeding these limitations where such circuits are also used to supply power solely to communication equipment.

Note to the definition of "communication lines": Telephone, telegraph, railroad signal, data, clock, fire, police alarm, cable television, and other systems conforming to this definition are included. Lines used for signaling purposes, but not included under this definition, are considered as electric supply lines of the same voltage.

(2) Electric supply lines. Conductors used to transmit electric energy and their necessary supporting or containing structures. Signal lines of more than 400 volts are always supply lines within this section, and those of less than 400 volts are considered as supply lines, if so run and operated throughout.

Minimum approach distance. The closest distance an employee may approach an energized or a grounded object.

Note to the definition of "minimum approach distance": Paragraph (l)(3)(i) of this section requires employers to establish minimum approach distances.

Personal fall arrest system. A system used to arrest an employee in a fall from a working level.

Qualified employee (qualified person). An employee (person) knowledgeable in the construction and operation of the electric power generation, transmission, and distribution equipment involved, along with the associated hazards.

Note 1 to the definition of "qualified employee (qualified person)": An employee must have the training required by (a)(2)(ii) of this section to be a qualified employee.

Note 2 to the definition of "qualified employee (qualified person)": Except under (g)(2)(iv)(C)(2) and (g)(2)(iv)(C)(3) of this section, an employee who is undergoing on-the-job training and who has demonstrated, in the course of such training, an ability to perform duties safely at his or her level of training and who is under the direct supervision of a qualified person is a qualified person for the performance of those duties.

Voltage. The effective (root mean square, or rms) potential difference between any two conductors or between a conductor and ground. This section expresses voltages in nominal values, unless otherwise indicated. The nominal voltage of a system or circuit is the value assigned to a system or circuit of a given voltage class for the purpose of convenient designation. The operating voltage of the system may vary above or below this value.

Work-positioning equipment. A body belt or body harness system rigged to allow an employee to be supported on an elevated vertical surface, such as a utility pole or tower leg, and work with both hands free while leaning.

V. Summary and Explanation of the Final Rule

OSHA has posted on its Website the summary and explanation of the standards as it appears in the final rule published on April 11, 2014, as corrected by a Federal Register notice published on _____, 2014. Note that there might be some formatting and other minor differences between the summary and explanation contained here and the version published in the April 11 final rule. Any such differences are nonsubstantive. You can find the corrected summary and explanation here.

VI. Appendices to the Electric Power Standards

Appendices to the electric power standards explain the most technically challenging portions of the standards, including determining minimum approach distances, protecting workers from hazardous differences in electric potential, and protecting workers from arc-flash hazards. You can find explanatory appendices to the electric power standards here:

General Industry (§1910.269) Construction (Part 1926, Subpart V)
Appendix A-Flow Charts Not applicable
Appendix B-Working on Exposed Energized Parts Appendix B-Working on Exposed Energized Parts
Appendix C-Protection from Hazardous Differences in Electric Potential Appendix C-Protection from Hazardous Differences in Electric Potential
Appendix D-Methods of Inspecting and Testing Wood Poles Appendix D-Methods of Inspecting and Testing Wood Poles
Appendix E-Protection from Flames and Electric Arcs Appendix E-Protection from Flames and Electric Arcs
Appendix F-Work-Positioning Equipment Inspection Guidelines Appendix F-Work-Positioning Equipment Inspection Guidelines
Appendix G-Reference Documents Appendix G-Reference Documents

VII. Other Sources of Information on the Electric Power Standards

Other sources of information on the electric power standards include:

News release

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Fact Sheet (in Adobe PDF format)

Minimum Approach Distance Calculator (a Web page that calculates minimum approach distances required by the electric power standards)

OSHA's Web page on the electric power standards (this Web page includes the latest information related to the electric power standards)

The electric power standards:

General industry electric power standard

§1910.269 Electric power generation, transmission, and distribution

General industry standard for electrical protective equipment

§1910.137 Electrical protective equipment

Construction electric power standard

Part 1926, Subpart V Electric power transmission and distribution

§1926.950 General

§1926.951 Medical services and first aid

§1926.952 Job briefing

§1926.953 Enclosed spaces

§1926.954 Personal protective equipment

§1926.955 Portable ladders and platforms

§1926.956 Hand and portable power equipment

§1926.957 Live-line tools

§1926.958 Materials handling and storage

§1926.959 Mechanical equipment

§1926.960 Working on or near exposed energized parts

§1926.961 Deenergizing lines and equipment for employee protection

§1926.962 Grounding for the protection of employees

§1926.963 Testing and test facilities

§1926.964 Overhead lines and live-line barehand work

§1926.965 Underground electrical installations

§1926.966 Substations

§1926.967 Special conditions

§1926.968 Definitions

Construction standard for electrical protective equipment

§1926.97 Electrical protective equipment

§Appendix-Federal and State OSHA and Consultation Offices

A. OSHA Area Offices

B. OSHA Regional Offices

C. States with Approved Occupational Safety and Health Plans

D. OSHA Consultation Project Directory

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