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 https://www.osha.gov.

September 16, 1981

Mr. Thomas P. Morris
Manager Distributor Relations
Electrical Division
McGill Manufacturing Company, Inc.
Valparaiso, Indiana 46383

Dear Mr. Morris:

Thank you for your letter of June 19, 1981, addressed to Mr. Rudolph Bayerle, OSHA's Area Director in Springfield, Massachusetts. Your inquiry concerns a citation issued to Leibman's Electrical Service in Worcester, Massachusetts and the position taken by OSHA in a letter dated July 17, 1980, from Mr. Bruce Hillenbrand, OSHA's Deputy Director of Federal Compliance and State Programs, to the Ericson Manufacturing Company.

The citation issued to Leibman's Electric Service alleged a violation of [29 CFR 1926.405(a)(2)(ii)(J)] for failure to use heavy duty cord for temporary lighting on a construction site. The July 17, 1980 letter from Mr. Hillenbrand to Mr. Ericson addresses issues raised by Mr. Ericson in a letter to OSHA, i.e., what are the requirements that must be met for temporary lighting strings with non-heavy duty cord to acceptable to OSHA. It is OSHA's position that temporary lighting strings used on construction sites, which do not use heavy duty cord, may be acceptable if they are installed, maintained, and used in a manner which poses no hazard to employees. At this point it should be emphasized that construction sites undergo continually changing conditions under which the temporary lighting strings must continue to pose no hazards.

In particular, the use of manufactured lighting strings in accordance with the open wiring option in 1971 NEC 305-2(c) may be considered as a de minimis violation of Section [1926.405(a)(2)(ii)(J)], provided the manufactured lighting string in UL or FM approved and installed in accordance with the instruction in the UL or FM listing. Lighting strings that are assembled on the job site must comply with all relevant provisions of the 1971 NEC and the other requirements of Subpart K. Some relevant provisions of the 1971 NEC which pertain to the installation of temporary lighting strings include the following sections:

  • 200-8--Connection to screw shell.
  • 210-23--Maximum load.
  • 320--5(a)--Conductors on insulating supports (as amended by Article 305)
  • 320-6--Conductor Separation
  • 400-1--Flexible Cords and Cables--General
  • 410-15--Supports--General
  • 410-23(a)&(b)--Protection of conductors and insulation.
  • 410-41--Screw--Shell Type
  • 410-52(a)--Rating and Type (Receptacles)
  • 410-43--Lampholders in damp or wet locations.

Thus, in situations in which temporary lighting strings do not use heavy duty cord, but comply with these requirements, and do not otherwise pose a hazard to employees, OSHA compliance personnel should regard the use of other than heavy duty cord as a de minimis violation of the Act and should not issue a citation. If these requirements for open wiring are not met, a citation for violation of [29 CFR 1926.405(a)(2)(ii)(J)] may be issued for temporary lighting strings on construction sites that do not employ heavy duty cord.

Should you have any further questions at this time, please do not hesitate to call or write.


Bruce Hillenbrand, Deputy Director,
Federal Compliance and State Programs

[Corrected 5/28/2004]