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 http://www.osha.gov.


October 10, 2007

Mr. Ken Erdmann
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
Local 245
705 Lime City Road
Rossford, OH 43460

Dear Mr. Erdmann:

Thank you for your July 7, 2006 letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Directorate of Enforcement Programs. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any questions not delineated within your original correspondence. You had specific questions regarding OSHA's Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution standard, 29 CFR §1910.269. Your paraphrased scenario, inquiries, and our responses follow.

Scenario: An electric utility has recently begun assigning one employee to the installing, repairing, or removing of direct buried secondary services from underground pad-mounted transformers. The employee digs under the pad, opens the lid to the transformer, and visually inspects the primary cables and elbows for flaws. Following the visual inspection, the employee then must fish the ends of the buried conductor under the transformer pad by reaching in and pulling the cable up through the energized primary or secondary cables, or both, to the front of the transformer. After this is accomplished, the employee must form, cut, and terminate the underground secondary conductors onto the secondary terminals. During this time, the employee is working inside the minimum approach distances (MADs) for the voltages involved. The nominal voltage of the primary system is 12,420Y/7200 volts, and the secondary voltage is 120/240 volts. The configuration of the existing buried cables is congested, and it is impossible to prevent contact with the existing energized primary and secondary cables both above and below the ground surface inside the transformer's termination compartment. Furthermore, existing conductors and elbows could be dislodged or moved during installation of these additional conductors. The integrity of the conductors might be degraded, possibly compromising the ability of the insulation to insulate the employee and any other conductive objects at a different potential.

Additionally, the integrity of the concentric neutral and its drain-wire connection at the tie-off tab on the elbow can pose a voltage hazard to the employee due to corrosion caused by moisture, salt, or other chemicals. Also, it is possible to affect the drain wire connection at the tie-off tab when the conductors are moved or jarred during the process. This work positions the employees in front of and above the energized conductors and the transformer's energized bushing terminations.

Employees from two separate job classifications are required to work in the above scenario, the "Lineman A" job classification and the "Service Center Utility Man" job classification.

 

 

  • The "Lineman A" classification is a "qualified employee" under 1910.269(x),1 having received the training required in 1910.269(a)(2)(i)-1910.269(a)(2)(ii).
  • The "Service Center Utility Man" classification is an employee who is only trained to work on circuits or equipment rated at 600 volts or lower.
  • Both job classifications have been trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid, as required by 1910.269(b).
     

Question #1: In this scenario, would an employee working alone (from the Lineman A classification), in an underground pad-mounted transformer energized with primary voltages of 7200/12,470 volts, installing, removing, or repairing direct-burial secondary cable to the underground pad-mounted transformer be compliant with 1910.269(l)(1)(i) and the general industry standards? Please note that the employee will not be able to maintain a distance outside the MADs, nor will the employer be able to demonstrate that the energized primary cables and elbows will meet the design specifications for the voltage insulation, due to degrading over time and the other factors previously described in the scenario.

Response #1: No. The standard, at §1910.269(l)(1)(i), specifies certain types of work that require the presence of at least two employees while they are being performed. These include, in paragraphs 1910.269(l)(1)(i)(A)-1910.269(l)(1)(i)(D) respectively:

 

 

(A) Installation, removal, or repair of lines that are energized at more than 600 volts;
(B) Installation, removal, or repair of deenergized lines if an employee is
exposed to contact with other parts energized at more than 600 volts;
(C) Installation, removal, or repair of equipment, such as transformers, capacitors, and regulators, if an employee is exposed to contact with parts energized at more than 600 volts; and
(D) Work involving the use of mechanical equipment, other than insulated aerial lifts near parts energized at more than 600 volts.

 

 

The standard also requires the presence of two or more employees when performing other work that exposes the employees to electrical hazards greater than or equal to those posed by these operations. 29 CFR 1910.269(l)(1)(i)(E). Based on the information you provided, the described work on the direct-burial secondary cable would expose employees to electrical hazards greater than or equal to those activities set forth in paragraphs 1910.269(l)(1)(i)(A) through 1910.269(l)(1)(i)(D). This is due to the location of the primary cables in the underground transformer and the potential for employees to contact these cables when performing the work.

It must be noted that §1910.269(l)(2)(ii) provides for three exceptions to the two-person requirement.2 Based on the information provided regarding the work and that employees must work within reach of energized parts, it appears that the activities described do not fall within the three exceptions, and, therefore, two or more employees must be present when they are being performed.

Question #2: In the same scenario as Question #1, is one man working alone, this time an individual classified as a Service Center Utility Man, compliant with the requirements of the standard?

Response #2 No. Based on the information you provided, a Service Center Utility Man would not constitute a "qualified employee," and, therefore, would be prohibited by §1910.269(l)(1) from working on or with exposed energized lines or parts of equipment.

Question #3: Would the presence of a second employee to assist in the installation, removal, or repair of secondary cables in an energized underground pad transformer, although not "qualified" as per the definition in the standard, meet the requirements of §1910.269(l)(1)(i) (assuming the employee whom the second employee is assisting is a "qualified employee" under the standard)?

Response #3: No. Again, any employee working on or with exposed energized lines or parts of equipment must be a "qualified employee." Assuming the employee assisting in the installation, removal, or repair of secondary cables in an energized transformer is working on or with exposed energized lines or parts, the assisting employee must be a "qualified employee," as well.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. 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 http://www.osha.gov. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of General Industry Enforcement at (202) 693-1850.

Sincerely,



Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs

 

 


1 A "qualified employee" or "qualified person" is defined at 1910.269(x) as "[o]ne knowledgeable in the construction and operation of the electric power generation, transmission, and distribution equipment involved, along with the associated hazards." Note 1, which accompanies the paragraph, requires that the employee must have the training required by 1910.269(a)(2)(ii) to be considered a "qualified person." Note 2, which also accompanies the definition of "qualified person," goes on to note that

[e]xcept under paragraph (g)(2)(v) of this section, an employee who is undergoing on-the-job-training and who, in the course of such training, has demonstrated an ability to perform duties safely at his or her level of training and who is under the direct supervision of a qualified person is considered to be a qualified person for the performance of those duties. [ back to text ]

2 Paragraphs 1910.269(l)(1)(ii)(A)-1910.269(l)(1)(ii)(C) exempt the following activities from the requirements of paragraph 1910.269(l)(1)(i):

(A) Routine switching of circuits, if the employer can demonstrate that conditions at the site allow this work to be performed safely,
(B) Work performed with live-line tools if the employee is positioned so that he or she is neither within reach of nor otherwise exposed to contact with energized parts, and
(C) Emergency repairs to the extent necessary to safeguard the general public. [ back to text ]