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.

February 2, 1995

Mr. Michael J. Peach III
President American Safety Equipment Company, Inc.
1 Kingswood Street
P.O. Box 1186
Morgantown, WV 26505

Dear Mr. Peach:

This is in further response to your December 6 letter, requesting clarification of the Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution Standard, 29 CFR 1910.269. Specifically, you requested clarification of testing required by section 1910.269(j)(2)-Condition of tools.

Paragraph 1910.269(j)(2)(iii) requires that a live-line tool be removed from service and examined and tested according to paragraph 1910.269(j)(2)(iii) when any defect or contamination is present that could adversely affect its insulating qualities or mechanical integrity. Also, paragraph 1910.269(j)(2)(iii) requires (as categorized in the fourth paragraph of the letter) the thorough examination, cleaning, repair, and testing of live-line tools used for primary employee protection on a two year cycle. The performance-oriented Electric Power Generation Standard does not specify under whose direction, that is, the employer, a contracted testing facility or others, the 1910.269(j)(2) activities including examination, cleaning, waxing, repair, refinishing and testing of live-line tools are performed; however, the employer is held responsible for compliance under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Safety reference sources applicable to these activities include national consensus standards (See Appendix E to Section 1910.269), manufacturer recommendations and other recognized safe working practices of the industry.

The employer must be able to demonstrate to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, that is, the Compliance Safety and Health Officer (CSHO) during an inspection of the work site, that the aforementioned activities meet 1910.269(j)(2) requirements. The CSHO would determine compliance by inspecting live-line tools at the work site, by looking at available documentation and by interviewing employees who are assigned work involving live-line tools.

By paragraph 1910.269(j)(2)(iii)(C), a test must be performed after the aforementioned two year cycle examination when:

The live-line tool has been repaired or refinished regardless of its composition;

The live-line tool is made of wood or hollow fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP);

The live-line tool is made of solid or foam-filled FRP tube, unless the employer can demonstrate that the examination has revealed all defects that could cause the live-line tool to fail in use. The employer has to be prepared to demonstrate that integrity has not been compromised, for example, by a contamination that could conduct harmful electrical energy, along the foam-filled portion of a live-line tool.

The test method used must be designed to verify the integrity of the live-line tool along its full working length. Full working length means the entire length of a single piece and the extended length of an adjustable, including telescoping, live-line tool. Live-line tools made of FRP include, singularly or in combination, solid, hollow or foam-filled configurations.

In consideration of the performance-oriented requirement of 1910.269(j)(2)(iii)(D), OSHA intends that an effective testing method be used. The testing method, whether wet or dry, must be designed to verify the tool's integrity under wet conditions. Guidelines for the examination and testing of live-line tools are contained in the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) "Guide of In-Service Maintenance and Electrical Testing of Live-Line Tools," IEEE Std. 978-1984, which is mentioned in the note following paragraph 1910.269(j)(2)(iii)(E)(3) and is listed in Appendix E of the Electric Power Generation Standard.

We appreciate your interest in employee safety and health. If we can be of further assistance, please contact Mr. Ronald Davies of my staff, telephone 202-219-8031, extension 110.


Joseph A Dear Assistant Secretary

December 6, 1994

Joseph A. Dear
Assistant Secretary Of Labor
For OSHA US Department of Labor - OSHA
200 Connecticut, Ave. Washington, DC 20210

Dear Mr. Dear

This is an urgent request for your assistance in providing an official interpretation of Section (j), Live-Line Tools (Pages 4443-4444) of 29 CFR Part 1910.269 Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution.

Our company is a certified high-voltage test laboratory and provides dielectric testing and certification of Live-Line Tools for some of the largest Power Generation Transmission & Distribution Companies in the US. Without exception, the Safety Directors of the companies we are doing work for are issuing or have already issued guidelines for the testing and recertification of their Live-Line Tools which I believe results in their not complying with the intent of Section (j) of 1910.269.

Their interpretation of the subject regulation is that foam filled fiberglass rods without obvious, visual defects do not have to be tested. That, only the hollow rods, tubes and poles have that requirements. We do not believe that this is the intent of 1910.269 or provides the proper level of safety to the worker.

It is our literal interpretation of the regulation that all Live-Line Tools used for primary employee protection shall be removed from service every 2 years cleaned, inspected and dielectrically tested according to appropriate ASTM Standards.

Because of the nature of our business and that we conduct many electrical safety training seminars annually free of charge to our customers and for the state of West Virginia, it is important that we fully understand DOL-OSHA's interpretation/intent of the subject regulation. The most frequent questions we are now asked is with regard to Section (j) Live-Line Tools of 29 CFR 1910.269.

I am requesting from you that you provide me with an official interpretation of Paragraph (j) "Live-Line Tools" of 29 CFR 1910.269 "Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution". Please Specify, what Live-Line Tools are required to be removed from service every 2 years, cleaned and dielectrically tested. Also explain the requirement is for wet verses dry dielectric testing of Live-Line Tools. For example, can the Live-Line Tool be either dry or wet tested?

It is urgent that we receive your reply as soon as possible. We appreciate your assistance and look forward to hearing from you in the near future.


Michael J. Peach III