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 22, 1999



Regional Administrator
[Directorate of Enforcement Programs]
SUBJECT: Request for Interpretation of OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.269

In response to your memorandum of October 13, 1998, with reference to the inspection at the Little Goose Hydroelectric Dam facility operated by the Department of the Army, Walla Walla District, Corps of Engineers, the following interpretation of the applicable Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Standards is submitted.

The facility is covered under 29 CFR 1910.269, Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution Standard. The interpretation of OSHA Standards with reference to the three specific situations requested by you is as follows:

Question No. 1: Does the OSHA Standard above require, at all shifts, that an employee in a generating station be reached by another employee or a second person, trained in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid, within 4 minutes?

Reply: No, not in all circumstances. OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.269(b)(1)(ii) requires that for fixed work locations such as generating stations, the number of trained persons available shall be sufficient to ensure that each employee exposed to electric shock can be reached within 4 minutes by a trained person. However, where the existing number of employees is insufficient to meet this requirement (at a remote substation, for example), all employees at the work location shall be trained. In the rulemaking, OSHA clarified that this provision was required only for employees exposed to the hazards of electrical shock when they perform work on or associated with exposed lines or equipment energized at 50 volts or more. This does not pertain to employees working near insulated electrical equipment, as the exposure to electrical shock hazard is minimal.

Question No. 2: Does the OSHA Standard prohibit an employee from working alone in a generating station where emergency medical response service (EMRS) can not respond to a work-related accident within 4 minutes?

Reply: Yes, with respect to the working alone issue, OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.269 prohibits an employee from working alone if the duties of the employee in the hydroelectric dam generating station fall into one of the categories in paragraph 1910.269(l)(1)(i) and are not exempted by paragraph 1910.269(l)(1)(ii). The working alone issue is not dependent upon first aid/CPR response and the preceding reply addresses the 4 minute response time issue.

Question No. 3: In facilities, other than generating stations, where a hazard may or may not include electrical shock, do we permit "working alone" where EMRS can not respond within 4 minutes to an accident resulting in a critical injury, or within 15 minutes to an accident resulting in a serious non life-threatening injury?

Reply: In facilities other than Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution that fall outside of the scope of OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.269, there is no general OSHA Standard that deals with the situation of an employee "working alone" except in specific situations such as emergency response, interior structural firefighting, or working in permit required confined spaces. Again, the working alone requirement is not dependent on medical treatment response time.

In summary, an employee must be accompanied by another employee if the duties of the night shift operator in the hydroelectric dam station fall into one of the categories in paragraph 1910.269(l)(1)(i) and are not exempted by paragraph 1910.269(l)(1)(ii). The CPR and first aid provisions, contained in paragraph 1910.269(b)(1) are dependent upon the type of electrical work performed by employee(s) and not the working alone issue. If an employee could be expected to be exposed to electric shock (at or beyond the 50 volt threshold hazard limit) in the course of performing his or her duties, then these requirements for field work and fixed work locations apply. In all general industry work situations, the medical services and first aid requirements set forth in paragraph[s] 1910.151[(b) and 1910.151(c)] apply. That existing section includes provisions for available medical personnel, first aid training and supplies and facilities for drenching or flushing of the eyes and body in the event of exposure to corrosive materials.

if you have questions, please contact [the Office of General Industry Enforcement at (202) 693-1850].

[Corrected 05/31/2007]