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.

August 16, 1996

Mr. Lawrence P. Halprin
Law Offices of Keller and Heckman
1001 G Street, N.W.
Suite 500
Washington, D.C. 20001

Dear Mr. Halprin:

This is in response to your letter of April 22 to Mr. David M. Wallis of the Directorate of Safety Standards Programs and Mr. Ronald J. Davies of my staff. Please accept our apology for the delay in responding. You requested Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) review of three electrical diagrams and associated notes enclosed in your letter. The diagrams and notes are intended to demonstrate American Forest and Paper Association's (AF&PA's) understanding of the demarcation between the general industry standards under Part 1910 Subpart S Electrical and §1910.269 Electrical power generation, transmission, and distribution as these standards apply to paper, pulp, and paperboard mills and converting plants operated by AF&PA members.

We recognize the time and effort expended by AF&PA in developing their understanding of the aforementioned demarcation. The diagrams and associated notes reflect an understanding of the basic differences between a premises wiring installation covered under 1910 Subpart S and an electric transmission or distribution installation covered under §1910.269. The diagrams and associated notes enclosed in your letter are viewed as representative of typical electrical installations in paper, pulp, and paperboard mills and converting plants. However, an actual installation is likely to differ in detail from what you provided. Whether an installation is in compliance with OSHA standards, of course, is determined on an application by application basis by a compliance Safety and Health Officer (CSHO) performing a workplace inspection.

We have two comments and one concern with respect to the diagrams and associated notes enclosed in your letter. Our first comment is that an employer may be cited for violation of the general duty clause under Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act whenever any employee would be protected under one standard, when the other, normally applicable standard, contains no provisions protecting against the hazard involved. For example, if an employee is using a live-line tool, such as a hot stick, on an overhead power line covered by 1910 Subpart S and if that tool was not in compliance with paragraph 1910.269(j), a general duty clause violation would exist.

Our second comment is that there are places in the diagrams you enclosed where an employer could choose to define the types of installation involved as either utilization or distribution. For example, with respect to the buses labeled "D" in Example 2, an employer could choose to define the buses together with their interconnecting feeders as part of the distribution system rather than part of the premises wiring.

In Example 3, bus "B" and bus "C" are nearly identical in configuration, the only difference being the disconnect on the supply side of bus "C".

OSHA is concerned that using different work practices in these examples could lead to confusion for employees working on them. This confusion could result in serious accidents. In situations such as these, an employer would be expected to determine that these closely related installations are all either utilization or distribution and then require employees working on them to meet the work practice requirements of Subpart S or §1910.269, respectively, so as to have consistent work practices. Employers who do not adopt consistent work practices for working on the two "different" buses face the possibility of being cited for violation(s) of §1910.269, 1910 Subpart S or the general duty clause of the OSH Act if the inconsistencies pose hazards to employees.

We appreciate your interest in employee safety and health. If we can be of further assistance, please contact the Office of Safety Compliance Assistance, Mr. Ronald J. Davies, telephone (202) 219-8031, extension 110.


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




April 22, 1996




Mr. David M. Wallis
Electrical Engineer
Office of Safety Standards
U.S. Dept. of Labor, OSHA
200 Constitution Ave., N.W.
Room N-3609
Washington, D.C. 20210

Mr. Ronald J. Davies
Safety Engineer
Office of General Industry
compliance Assistance
U.S. Dept. of Labor, OSHA
200 Constitution Ave., N.W.
Room N-3701
Washington, D.C. 20210

Re:29 C.F.R. §1910.269

Dear Dave and Ron:

This is the promised follow-up to your meeting with the Electric Power Standard Task Force of the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA). The primary focus of the meeting was on identifying and distinguishing those activities and equipment covered by the electrical safety standards in Subpart S of 29 CFR §1910 from those activities and equipment covered by 29 CFR §1910.269.

Prior to the referenced meeting, the AF&PA Task Force provided you with several electrical drawings considered representative of typical electrical system layouts at the pulp, paper and paperboard mills and converting plants operated by AF&PA's members. On those drawings, the Task Force identified the activities and equipment which it believed would be covered by Subpart S, and the activities and equipment which it believed would be covered by §1910.269. At the meeting, the Task Force requested your opinions on its interpretations of those standards. You orally provided us with your views and we substantially revised three of the previously-referenced drawings to reflect what we believe to be your interpretations of the standards.

We would greatly appreciate your reviewing each of the three enclosed electrical layouts and associated notes, and confirming that the delineation between Subpart S and §1910.269 in those materials accurately reflects OSHA's interpretation of the standards. If the drawings and notes do not accurately reflect the Agency's interpretation of the standards, please explain where we have erred and clarify the matter for us.

If we can provide you with any additional information, please let me know. I look forward to receiving the Agency's response concerning the enclosed materials. Thank you for your cooperation.


Cordially yours,

Lawrence P. Halprin




Example 1




Example 2

Example 3