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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

June 11, 1993

Mr. Rick Cee
Chairperson, OSHA-SLTC
Safety Committee
U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health
Salt Lake City Technical Center
1781 South 300 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84165-0200

Dear Mr. Cee:

This is in response to your letter of February 26, regarding the use of "power strips". You apparently want our opinion on whether certain working conditions relative to the described "power strips" might constitute a violation of OSHA standards. You were also concerned about the cost of abatement should a violation exist. Please accept our apologies for the delay in the response.

"Power strips" as mentioned in your letter or "surge/noise protective strips" as termed in the literature you sent as enclosures are generally referred to as temporary power taps. Temporary power taps that incorporate switches, indicator lights, filters for electromagnetic interference, fuses, varistors, or other overcurrent mechanisms in their design could be devices for transient voltage surge suppression of equipment. Transient voltage surge suppressors when used to preserve the components of the equipment listed in your letter (computer, printer, fax, miscellaneous appliances and analytical instruments) could be considered a device as defined in 29 CFR 1910.399:

Device. A unit of an electrical system which is intended to carry but not utilize electric energy.

If the temporary power taps are being used to provide transient voltage surge suppression, then these devices would meet the OSHA standards. If the temporary power taps are being used solely as wiring to provide extra or more convenient outlets, then this is a violation of 29 CFR 1910.305(g)(1)(iii)(A):

... flexible cords and cables may not be used:

(A) As a substitute for the fixed wiring of a structure;....

The selection of the surge/noise protective devices should be made following the manufacturer's recommendations for each piece of equipment that is to have this safeguard. An assessment of the electric branch circuits in the facility should be made to assure there is no potential for an electric overload situation where the equipment is used.

If you should need further assistance please do not hesitate to contact us.


Raymond Donnelly, Director
Office of General Industry Compliance