- Standard Number:
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.
July 28, 1995
Mr. Charles H. Williams
Director, Codes and Standards
3 Bethesda Metro Center, Suite 1100
Bethesda, MD 20814
Dear Mr. Williams:
This is in further response to your letter of April 17, requesting clarification of the electric power generation, transmission, and distribution standard, 29 CFR 1910.269. Please accept our apology for the delay in responding. Your questions and our replies follow.
Question 1: What types of clothing are acceptable under the 1910.269 Standard?
Reply: Clothing worn by employees in the workplace are covered by the following provisions of the electric power generation standard:
Paragraph 1910.269(g)(1)-Personal protective equipment (PPE) shall meet the requirements of 1910 Subpart I. Personal protective equipment, which may include clothing, must be provided, used and maintained as required by 1910.132. Personal protective equipment must be selected and used such that employees are protected from the hazards identified in the hazard assessment required by paragraph 1910.132(d).
Paragraph 1910.269(l)(6)(iii)-The employer shall ensure that each employee who is exposed to the hazards of flames or electric arcs does not wear clothing that, when exposed to flames or electric arcs, could increase the extent of injury that would be sustained by the employee. This apparel standard applies to all apparel worn by an employee exposed to the hazards of flames or electric arcs.
For example, paragraph 1910.269(l)(6)(iii) applies to an employer who provides personal protective clothing worn by an employee for protection against cold or rain when also exposed to the hazards of electric arcs or flames.
The Apparel Standard does not serve to protect workers from direct injury due to electric arc or flame exposure, as would PPE; it simply prohibits clothing that would make even worse any injuries caused by that exposure. Under this rule, flame resistant and flame-retardant-treated clothing is acceptable under all conditions. Clothing made from untreated polyester, acetate, nylon, or rayon, alone or in blends, is prohibited, unless the employer can demonstrate that the clothing is worn in such a manner as to eliminate the hazard involved. Clothing made from 100 percent natural materials, such as cotton and wool, is acceptable if the clothing will not ignite under the electric arc and flame conditions found at the workplace.
Question 2: What are the definitions of "flame retardant" and "flame resistant" in regards to apparel covered by paragraph 1910.269(l)(6)(iii)?
The source of the terms used by OSHA with respect to the paragraph 1910.269(l)(6)(iii) Apparel requirement is the American Society of Testing and Materials Standard, ASTM D 123-93, Standard Terminology Relating to Textiles. This ASTM standard includes the following definitions:
Flame Resistant: The property of a material whereby flaming combustion is prevented, terminated, or inhibited following application of a flaming or nonflaming source of ignition, with or without subsequent removal of the ignition source.
Flame-Retardant-Treated: Having received flame-retardant treatment.
Flame Retardant: This terminology should not be used as an adjective except in the terminology: flame-retardant-treated (or flame-retardant treatment). Used as a noun, "flame retardant" is a chemical used to impart flame resistance.
Question 3: When are employees required to wear protective clothing on the job site?
Reply: Protective clothing is addressed in 1910.132(a). This provision requires protective clothing "wherever it is necessary by reason of hazards of processes or environment, chemical hazards, radiological hazards, or mechanical irritants encountered in a manner capable of causing injury or impairment in the function of any part of the body through absorption, inhalation or physical contact."
If your question was intended to apply to clothing worn pursuant to paragraph 1910.269(l)(6)(iii), please note that this provision does not require the use of protective clothing. This paragraph applies as follows:
Paragraph 1910.269(l) applies to work on exposed live parts, or near enough to them, to expose the employee to any hazard they present. Paragraph 1910.269(l)(6)(iii) applies to employees who are exposed to the hazards of flames or electric arcs. Thus, an employee must wear apparel meeting paragraph 1910.269(l)(6)(iii) whenever both of the following two conditions are present:
1. The employee is working on or near exposed energized parts of electric circuits and
2. An electric arc from the exposed energized circuit or a flame poses a hazard to the employee.
Question 4: Please list clothing and fabric manufacturers of untreated, 100 percent natural (cotton and wool) material which is at least, 11 ounces in weight.
Reply: In consideration of fair business practices, such an OSHA provided listing would be considered inappropriate since it would identify some manufacturers to the exclusion of others.
The information you are seeking can be obtained from other sources including: employee associations, for example, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); employer associations, for example, the Edison Electrical Institute (EEI); safety consultants; and marketing enterprises. Most denim jackets and trousers are made from at least 11 ounces per square yard (409 grams per square meter)
Question 5: What training is the employer required to provide to employees when the employer is subject to the apparel requirements of paragraph 1910.269(l)(6)(iii)?
Reply: The employer must train employees who are exposed to flames or electric arcs regarding apparel-related hazard covered by paragraph 1910.269(l)(6). This training must also comply with paragraph 1910.269(a)(2)(i), which requires training in safety practice. Apparel-related work practices include selection of the proper types of clothing and work methods that minimize exposure to electric arcs and flames. For example, employees who are exposed to the hazards of electric arc or flames must be trained that wearing apparel made wholly or in part from prohibited materials can ignite or melt and could increase the extent of injury even if worn under other fabrics that do not ignite.
Question 6: What are the documentation requirement for the training addressed by Question 6 above?
Reply: By paragraph 1910.269(a)(2)(vii), the employer must certify that each employee has received the training required by paragraph 1910.269(a)(2). This certification may be made when the employee demonstrates proficiency in the work practices involved and must be maintained for the duration of the employee's employment. By the note following paragraph 1910.269(a)(2)(vii), employment records that indicate that an employee has received the required training are an acceptable means of meeting this requirement.
Question 7: Is there a recertification requirement for the training addressed by Question 6 above?
Reply: All training, including retraining, must be certified.
By paragraph 1910.269(a)(2)(iv), an employee must receive additional training (or retraining) under any of the following conditions:
If the supervision and annual inspections required by paragraph 1910.269(a)(2)(iii) indicate that the employee is not complying with the safety-related work practices required by paragraph 1910.269(a)(2), or
If new technology, new types of equipment, or changes in procedures necessitate the use of safety-related work practices that are different from those which the employee would normally use, or
If the employee must employ safety-related work practices that are not normally used during his or her regular job duties.
By the note following paragraph 1910.269(a)(2)(iv)(C), OSHA would consider tasks that are performed less often than once a year to necessitate retraining before the performance of the work practices involved.
Question 8: Who is required to pay for the apparel covered by paragraph 1910.269(l)(6)(iii)?
Reply: While OSHA requires, with exceptions, that employers provide and pay for PPE, the paragraph 1910.269(l)(6)(iii) is silent on this point. OSHA does not consider this Apparel Standard to be a PPE requirement.
Question 9: Can untreated, 100 percent natural, for example, cotton or wool, fabrics or clothing be layered?
Reply: Generally, 100 percent natural clothing that is layered will not be acceptable unless the outer layer is of sufficient weight that it will not ignite under the electric arc and flame conditions involved. While layering can provide additional thermal protection when the clothing does not ignite, it provides no additional protection against ignition. The outer layer may not be in complete contact with the layer underneath, especially where there are exposed edges (at the sleeves and collar, for example) because, it will ignite as if it were a single layer.
Question 10: Do lineman suits (such as those manufactured by Carhart) consisting of an outer shell of untreated, 100 percent natural material and an inner liner of untreated synthetic material meet the apparel requirement under paragraph 1910.269(l)(6)(iii)?
Reply: Such a lineman suit must have an outer shell from materials of at least 11 ounces per square yard (409 grams per square meter) in weight, that withstands the electric arc or flame hazard which may be encountered and that protects an inner layer of otherwise prohibited, untreated synthetic material, for example, polyester from igniting or melting and causing an additional hazard.
Question 11: Are metal zippers in the lineman's clothing a concern for employer to whom the paragraph 1910.269(l)(6)(iii) applies?
Reply: The metal in a metal zipper is not expected to contribute to the severity of injury sustained by an employee in the event an electric arc occurs. Therefore, provided the surrounding material meets the Apparel standard, the metal zipper will be acceptable under paragraph 1910.269(l)(6)(iii).
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.
John B. Miles, Jr., Director
Directorate Compliance Programs