Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution Standard
The long-overdue final rule updating a 40-year-old standard will save nearly 20 lives and prevent 118 serious injuries annually. Electric utilities, electrical contractors, and labor organizations have long championed these much needed measures to better protect the men and women who work on or near electrical power lines.
— Dr. David Michaels Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health
OSHA is revising the construction standard for electric power line work to make it more consistent with the corresponding general industry standard and is also making some revisions to both the construction and general industry requirements. Here are some examples of the types of injuries and fatalities the standard will prevent:
- As an electric utility worker was installing replacement batteries in a substation, an electrical fault occurred when a battery cable fell onto the terminals on one of the installed batteries. The ensuing electric arc severely burned and melted his rubber insulating gloves. He sustained second- and third-degree burns, requiring several surgeries, as well as multi-day hospitalization. See incident report.
- A power line worker descending a utility pole fell about 10 meters to the ground when his pole climbers cut out. He sustained fractured ribs, fractured pelvis, fractured legs, and internal injuries and was hospitalized for 14 days. See incident report.
- While a power line worker was moving his aerial lift platform away from a utility pole after completing repairs, a tractor-trailer struck the aerial lift truck, ejecting the worker from the platform. He died of injuries sustained in the fall. See incident report.
The final rule includes new or revised requirements for fall protection, minimum approach distances, and arc-flash protection, and for host employers and contract employers to exchange safety-related information. The final rule also includes requirements for electrical protective equipment.
The final rule became effective on July 10, 2014. However, OSHA adopted delayed compliance deadlines for certain requirements and established this temporary enforcement policy that was in effect through February 17, 2015. On February 13, 2015, OSHA, Edison Electric Institute, the Utility Line Clearance Coalition, and the Tree Care Industry Association signed an agreement [PDF*] resolving all legal challenges to the final rule. As part of that settlement, OSHA agreed to issue the following documents:
- Questions and Answers on the final rule [PDF*]
- A memorandum [PDF*] to OSHA field offices regarding enforcement of some of the fall protection requirements in the final rule
- A memorandum [PDF*] to OSHA field offices regarding enforcement dates and
- A memorandum [PDF*] to OSHA field offices clarifying the applicability of §1910.269 to line-clearance tree trimming.
A memorandum to OSHA field offices regarding a delayed enforcement date for minimum approach distance requirements for voltages of 72.6 to 169.0 kilovolts and 169.1 kilovolts and more under 29 CFR 1910.269 and 29 CFR Part 1926, Subpart V. The delay has been extended from January 31, 2016 to January 31, 2017. Note that this is an update to Section D of the February 18, 2015 memo, located above.
* Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Directorate of Standards and Guidance at (202) 693-1950 for assistance accessing PDF documents.