Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at


January 11, 1977

Mr. Cleatus W. Zimmerman
Route #3
Murphysboro, Illinois 62966

Dear Mr. Zimmerman:

Your letter dated October 24, 1976 addressed to our Belleville, Illinois office has been referred to this office for response.

Your letter expresses concern for the safety of telephone company personnel working under inclement weather conditions and also while exposed to induced currents and energized conductors. The OSHA standard 1910.268 Telecommunications does apply to part of your concern. Specifically, 1910.268(m) requires grounding for employees' protection under certain conditions. These requirements are too extensive to discuss in this letter; accordingly, we are sending you a copy of the General Industry Standards so that you may review these requirements. Please refer to page 493, first column, about halfway down the page where you will find the heading 1910.268(m) Grounding for employee protection.

We have been advised by your company's Illinois Safety Director that your company does provide grounding means along lines at distances of every one thousand feet. Also, your company observes, as a minimum, the separation distances (from electric utility conductors) set forth in the National Electrical Safety Code.

The OSHA standards do not touch upon the matter of working under inclement weather conditions. We have learned that in the telecommunications industry it is common practice to discontinue working aloft during electrical storms. Normal wind conditions are not considered to be a basis for stopping work, nor is rain. The decision to continue or stop working is made on the basis of the conditions existing at the time and place.

While we have contacted the Safety Director of your company, we have not disclosed your name nor your location. We would suggest that you contact the Safety Director (Mr. Profilet, 309-663-3062) if you feel that your local supervisors are not taking adequate measures to protect employees or are requiring employees to work under hazardous conditions.

The last paragraph of your letter asks us to inform you of conditions you describe are unsafe. It could be unfair to you and/or your company to make an evaluation only on the basis of a written description. We can only say that such conditions might be unsafe, but an on-site observation under the actual conditions should be made for a valid evaluation.

Very truly yours,

Assistant Regional
Administrator for Technical Support

[Corrected 3/19/2009]