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 6, 1998

Mr. Dale Rice
Plant Construction Supervisor
Community Services Telephone Co.
33 Main Street, P.O. Box 400
Winthrop, Maine 04364

Dear Mr. Rice:

This is in response to your May 11, 1995 letter requesting interpretation of 29 CFR 1910.268 with respect to handling telecommunication cable suspension strands on poles carrying exposed energized power conductors. Please accept our apology for the extensive delay in responding. Your scenario and question and our response follow.


Before the advent of Telsa-type line placing vehicles, a telecommunication cable suspension strand was strung loosely from pole to pole and then pulled up by hand or with a pickup truck. There was a danger of flipping the strand into exposed energized power lines and potentially exposing employees to harmful electrical energy. To keep from being exposed to hazardous electrical energy, employees use rubber insulated gloves in strand placing operations. Use of these gloves is claimed to be cumbersome and time consuming.

When a Telsa-type of cable placing vehicle is used, a suspension strand is grounded at the beginning of a new run and at each vertical ground as it is placed. In this case, the vehicle would be dead-ending two vertical sections. Approximately 75-100 pounds of force is applied in tension to the cable suspension strand by the vehicle. The placing bucket of the vehicle provides stability to the strand. Although this is not full tension, (having observed the operation) it appears to keep the cable suspension strand tight enough so that if only two sections of strand are placed before full tension is applied, there seems to be no danger of the strand coming into contact with an energized power line.


Would an employee have to wear insulated rubber gloves when handling a telecommunication cable suspension strand during Telsa-type of cable placing vehicle operations?


Yes. Paragraph 1910.268(n)(1)(i) requires that an employee when handling a telecommunication cable suspension strand which is being installed on poles carrying exposed energized power conductors must wear rubber insulated gloves and must avoid body contact with the strand until after it has been tensioned, dead-ended and permanently grounded. The use of Telsa-type cable placing vehicles does not obviate the need for wearing insulated rubber gloves. Wearing of gloves when pulling communications cables provides employee protection from potential exposure to electrical, and also mechanical, hazards, for example, caused by the possible recoil of an accidental break-away of the strand from an anchor when under the tensional force of 75 to 100 lb (34.0 to 453.6 kilograms).

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


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