• Part Number:
  • Part Number Title:
    Safety and Health Regulations for Construction
  • Subpart:
    1926 Subpart V
  • Subpart Title:
    Electric Power Transmission and Distribution
  • Standard Number:
  • Title:
    Testing and test facilities.
  • GPO Source:

Application. This section provides for safe work practices for high-voltage and high-power testing performed in laboratories, shops, and substations, and in the field and on electric transmission and distribution lines and equipment. It applies only to testing involving interim measurements using high voltage, high power, or combinations of high voltage and high power, and not to testing involving continuous measurements as in routine metering, relaying, and normal line work.

Note to paragraph (a): OSHA considers routine inspection and maintenance measurements made by qualified employees to be routine line work not included in the scope of this section, provided that the hazards related to the use of intrinsic high-voltage or high-power sources require only the normal precautions associated with routine work specified in the other paragraphs of this subpart. Two typical examples of such excluded test work procedures are “phasing-out” testing and testing for a “no-voltage” condition.


General requirements


Safe work practices. The employer shall establish and enforce work practices for the protection of each worker from the hazards of high-voltage or high-power testing at all test areas, temporary and permanent. Such work practices shall include, as a minimum, test area safeguarding, grounding, the safe use of measuring and control circuits, and a means providing for periodic safety checks of field test areas.


Training. The employer shall ensure that each employee, upon initial assignment to the test area, receives training in safe work practices, with retraining provided as required by § 1926.950(b).


Safeguarding of test areas


Safeguarding. The employer shall provide safeguarding within test areas to control access to test equipment or to apparatus under test that could become energized as part of the testing by either direct or inductive coupling and to prevent accidental employee contact with energized parts.


Permanent test areas. The employer shall guard permanent test areas with walls, fences, or other barriers designed to keep employees out of the test areas.


Temporary test areas. In field testing, or at a temporary test site not guarded by permanent fences and gates, the employer shall ensure the use of one of the following means to prevent employees without authorization from entering:

Distinctively colored safety tape supported approximately waist high with safety signs attached to it,
A barrier or barricade that limits access to the test area to a degree equivalent, physically and visually, to the barricade specified in paragraph (c)(3)(i) of this section, or
One or more test observers stationed so that they can monitor the entire area.

Removal of safeguards. The employer shall ensure the removal of the safeguards required by paragraph (c)(3) of this section when employees no longer need the protection afforded by the safeguards.


Grounding practices


Establish and implement practices. The employer shall establish and implement safe grounding practices for the test facility.

The employer shall maintain at ground potential all conductive parts accessible to the test operator while the equipment is operating at high voltage.
Wherever ungrounded terminals of test equipment or apparatus under test may be present, they shall be treated as energized until tests demonstrate that they are deenergized.

Installation of grounds. The employer shall ensure either that visible grounds are applied automatically, or that employees using properly insulated tools manually apply visible grounds, to the high-voltage circuits after they are deenergized and before any employee performs work on the circuit or on the item or apparatus under test. Common ground connections shall be solidly connected to the test equipment and the apparatus under test.


Isolated ground return. In high-power testing, the employer shall provide an isolated ground-return conductor system designed to prevent the intentional passage of current, with its attendant voltage rise, from occurring in the ground grid or in the earth. However, the employer need not provide an isolated ground-return conductor if the employer can demonstrate that both of the following conditions exist:

The employer cannot provide an isolated ground-return conductor due to the distance of the test site from the electric energy source, and

The employer protects employees from any hazardous step and touch potentials that may develop during the test.

Note to paragraph (d)(3)(ii): See appendix C to this subpart for information on measures that employers can take to protect employees from hazardous step and touch potentials.


Equipment grounding conductors. For tests in which using the equipment grounding conductor in the equipment power cord to ground the test equipment would result in greater hazards to test personnel or prevent the taking of satisfactory measurements, the employer may use a ground clearly indicated in the test set-up if the employer can demonstrate that this ground affords protection for employees equivalent to the protection afforded by an equipment grounding conductor in the power supply cord.


Grounding after tests. The employer shall ensure that, when any employee enters the test area after equipment is deenergized, a ground is placed on the high-voltage terminal and any other exposed terminals.

Before any employee applies a direct ground, the employer shall discharge high capacitance equipment or apparatus through a resistor rated for the available energy.
A direct ground shall be applied to the exposed terminals after the stored energy drops to a level at which it is safe to do so.

Grounding test vehicles. If the employer uses a test trailer or test vehicle in field testing, its chassis shall be grounded. The employer shall protect each employee against hazardous touch potentials with respect to the vehicle, instrument panels, and other conductive parts accessible to employees with bonding, insulation, or isolation.


Control and measuring circuits


Control wiring. The employer may not run control wiring, meter connections, test leads, or cables from a test area unless contained in a grounded metallic sheath and terminated in a grounded metallic enclosure or unless the employer takes other precautions that it can demonstrate will provide employees with equivalent safety.


Instruments. The employer shall isolate meters and other instruments with accessible terminals or parts from test personnel to protect against hazards that could arise should such terminals and parts become energized during testing. If the employer provides this isolation by locating test equipment in metal compartments with viewing windows, the employer shall provide interlocks to interrupt the power supply when someone opens the compartment cover.


Routing temporary wiring. The employer shall protect temporary wiring and its connections against damage, accidental interruptions, and other hazards. To the maximum extent possible, the employer shall keep signal, control, ground, and power cables separate from each other.


Test observer. If any employee will be present in the test area during testing, a test observer shall be present. The test observer shall be capable of implementing the immediate deenergizing of test circuits for safety purposes.


Safety check


Before each test. Safety practices governing employee work at temporary or field test areas shall provide, at the beginning of each series of tests, for a routine safety check of such test areas.


Conditions to be checked. The test operator in charge shall conduct these routine safety checks before each series of tests and shall verify at least the following conditions:

Barriers and safeguards are in workable condition and placed properly to isolate hazardous areas;
System test status signals, if used, are in operable condition;
Clearly marked test-power disconnects are readily available in an emergency;
Ground connections are clearly identifiable;

Personal protective equipment is provided and used as required by subpart E of this part and by this subpart; and

Proper separation between signal, ground, and power cables.

[79 FR 20710-20711, July 10, 2014]