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 31, 1995

Mr. Jack Callaway
Director of Environment Affairs
SHO-ME POWER Electric Cooperative
P. O. Box D
Marshfield, MO 65706

Dear Mr. Callaway:

This is in response to your July 29 letter, requesting clarification of paragraph 1910.269(l)(6)(iii) with respect to a qualified employee wearing a short sleeve shirt when working on or nearby energized electric power lines or equipment and subject to potential exposure to an electric arc. Please accept our apology for the delay in responding. Your questions and our response follow.

Question 1: Assuming that they are made from flame retardant treated materials, will short sleeve shirts satisfy the paragraph 1910.269(l)(6)(iii) requirement?

Question 2: Will a flame retardant treated, long sleeve shirt altered to a short sleeve shirt using flame retardant treated thread satisfy the paragraph 1910.269(l)(6)(iii) requirements?

Question 3: Will the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) allow manufacturers to sell flame retardant treated, short sleeve shirts to electrical workers who are the subject of the paragraph 1910.269(l)(6)(iii) standard?

Reply: In response to questions 1 and 2, our reply is "yes." The intent of the aforementioned standard is to prohibit any clothing that, when exposed to flame or electric arc, could increase the extent of injury sustained by an employee. Please be advised that paragraph 1910.269(l)(6)(iii) is not a personal protective (clothing) equipment requirement. Personal protective equipment requirements are specified elsewhere in 1910.269 and in 1910.132. For example, a qualified employee who approaches or takes any conductive object closer to exposed energized parts than the minimum approach distances set forth in Table R-6 through Table R-10 must use insulating gloves and, with exceptions, insulating sleeves as required by paragraph 1910.269(l)(2).

In addition, paragraph 1910.269(g)(1), personal protective equipment, including insulating gloves and insulating sleeves (see 1910.137) must meet the requirements of 1910 Subpart I.

In response to question 3 above, OSHA does not regulate manufacturers with respect to any items they might sell to employees and employers. OSHA regulations address what item may be used by employees in certain situations. Please find enclosed OSHA references, including letters of interpretation issued by OSHA, which provide clarification of the paragraph 1910.269(l)(6)(iii) requirement.

Although OSHA does not prohibit employers from purchasing flame-retardant-treated short sleeve shirts or from altering flame-retardant-treated long sleeve shirts to shorten the sleeves, such practices are discouraged. Flame-retardant-treated clothing will provide a measure of protection to an employee exposed to an electric arc. From this standpoint, flame-retardant-treated clothing that covers not only the body and legs, but also the arms provides better protection to the employee. An employer would be in a citable posture for violation of [1910.132] of Subpart I Personal protective equipment standard when the wearing of clothing which covers the arms, legs or other exposed surfaces of the body is required to protect the employee from hazards other than arcing and the employee does not do so.

We appreciate your interest in employee safety and health. If we can be of further assistance, please contact [the Office of General Industry Enforcement at 202 693-1850].


John B. Miles, Jr., Director
[Directorate of Enforcement Programs]

[Corrected 11/22/2004]