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OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Administration
U.S. Department of Labor

Process: Shipboard Electrical


Deenergization of Electrical Equipment and Circuits

Two sources of electrical power are used during shipyard employment operations; shore side and vessel generated. Maritime workers are at greater risk for electrical shock hazards than workers in other industries because they stand on metal decks and often work in a wet environment. Before work is performed on circuits, except those being tested or adjusted, the circuits must be deenergized and checked at the point where work will be performed to ensure that they are in fact deenergized (29 CFR 1915.181(b)).  Deenergizing the circuit must be correctly completed by opening the circuit breaker, opening the switch, or removing the fuse (29 CFR 1915.181(c)).  The circuit must then be locked out or tagged out in accordance with 29 CFR 1915.89.

The circuit breaker, switch, or fuse location must be tagged to indicate that work is occurring on the circuit.  Such tags must not be removed, nor the circuit reenergized, until the work has been completed (29 CFR 1915.181(c)). When work is performed immediately adjacent to exposed energized parts, these parts must be covered (for example, insulated) or other equally safe means provided (29 CFR 1915.181(d)).  In order to ensure the safety of workers, it is recommended that:

  • Insulating materials (such as mats and gloves) be periodically tested or inspected;
  • All electrical tools or equipment undergo a visual inspection before use;
  • All portable electric hand tools and temporary lighting systems use Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI);
  • Electrical tools and equipment be appropriate for the job to be performed; and 
  • Electrical equipment and tools be used with proper circuit protection for the voltage and amperage.
improper practice - faulty breaker box presents shock hazard

Improper practice - Faulty breaker box presents shock hazard.

portable distribution panel used to supply temporary electrical power

Portable distribution panel used to supply temporary electrical power.

circuit breakers in panel box can be used to deenergize circuits (and appropriately tagged) before working on the circuit

Circuit breakers in panel box can be used to deenergize circuits (and appropriately tagged) before working on the circuit.


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