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 http://www.osha.gov.

April 12, 1995

The Honorable Patricia Schroeder
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Congresswoman Schroeder:

This is in further response to your December 8, 1994 letter regarding the request for assistance by Mr. Ray E. Clifton, Executive Director for the Colorado Rural Electric Association. In his letter, Mr. Clifton requested that you assist his association "by requiring OSHA to delay implementation" of 29 CFR 1910.269(l)(6)(iii) "until a complete and sensible resolution to the intent of the Standard can be determined." This is an apparel standard which is contained in OSHA's standard on Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution. Please accept our apology for the delay in responding.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has developed a fact sheet (enclosed) on issues related to clothing worn by employees exposed to electric arcs or flames. This fact sheet addresses the concerns addressed in Mr. Clifton's November 16, 1994 letter.

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

Sincerely,



Joseph A. Dear
Assistant Secretary


Enclosure



January 10, 1995

The Honorable Patricia Schroeder
House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Congresswoman Schroeder:

We have received your December 8, 1994 letter regarding the request for assistance by Mr. Ray E. Clifton, Executive Director for the Colorado Rural Electric Association. In his letter, Mr. Clifton requested that you assist his association "by requiring OSHA to delay implementation" of 29 CFR 1910.269(l)(6)(iii) "until a complete and sensible resolution to the intent of the Standard can be determined."

This matter requires further research. We are attempting to respond as quickly as possible, taking into consideration the need for a thoughtful and responsive reply. We expect to provide you a full response shortly.

We appreciate your interest in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's programs. Thank you for your patience.

Sincerely,



John B. Miles, Jr., Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs




November 16, 1994

The Honorable Patricia Schroeder
U.S. House of Representatives
2208 Rayburn
House Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Congresswoman Schroeder:

The Colorado Rural Electric Association would like your assistance in resolving an issue connected with a new OSHA standard 1910.269, Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution; Electrical Protective Equipment. Our concern revolves around a specific section in the standard (1910.269(l)(6), page 4445 of the Federal Register, January 31, 1994) that requires the employer to insure that apparel worn by employees not increase the extent of injury should the employee be exposed to flames or electric arcs. While the section identifies some examples of clothing that is not acceptable such as acetate, nylon, etc., it does not identify acceptable clothing.

During the past several months our industry has actively tried to get OSHA to identify acceptable clothing without success. An attempt was made by industry representatives through the court system to get OSHA to delay the enforcement date of November 1, 1994 until the issue could be clarified. We were not successful.

Our industry has typically used cotton or wool apparel to minimize employee injury. While OSHA has not specifically stated that this material is not acceptable, they have said that flame retardant treated clothing or cotton clothing weighing 11 ounces per square yard might be acceptable. Our concerns, besides the vagueness of the Standard, include: (1) Flame retardant treated clothing can easily cost over $120 per uniform and has several washing restrictions, (2) Flame retardant treated clothing does not "breathe" which causes the employee to perspire, increasing a potential injury should the employee be exposed to an electric arc. (3) Clothing of this weight is very heavy, increasing the possibility of heat stress in summer, (4) The American Society For Testing And Materials has not agreed that 11 oz. clothing would meet the requirements of OSHA, and (5) Considerations as to the appropriate undergarments are not addressed at all in this new Standard.

The rural electric associations have the desire and willingness to comply with federal safety regulations. The safety of our employees is of utmost importance; however, regulations that do not provide sufficient detail on compliance, coupled with a possible substantial cost impact without a identifiable or quantifiable safety benefit to our employees, is just not acceptable.

CREA respectfully requests that you assist us in resolving this issue by requiring OSHA to delay implementation of this part of the Standard until a complete and sensible resolution to the intent of the Standard can be determined. We are available to answer any questions you may have or provide additional information. Your assistance with this matter is appreciated.

Sincerely,



Ray E. Clifton
Executive Director