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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.
March 31, 2014
MEMORANDUM FOR: REGIONAL ADMINISTRATORS
FROM: JAMES G. MADDUX
SUBJECT: Temporary Enforcement Policy for Proximity Alarm and Insulating Link Use with Cranes and Derricks in Construction
Effective April 30, 2014, until further notice, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) intends to follow the temporary enforcement policy described below for use of proximity alarms and insulating links with cranes or derricks while engaged in construction activities near power lines. OSHA initially adopted a temporary enforcement policy for the use of these devices in a June 25, 2012 memorandum, and it was effective July 26, 2012 through November 8, 2013. This memorandum supersedes OSHA's June 25, 2012 memorandum.
The Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard, 29 CFR 1926 Subpart CC ("cranes standard"), includes several options for cranes and derricks performing construction activities near power lines. Some of the options involve proximity alarms or insulating links/devices. Section 1926.1401 of the cranes standard defines "proximity alarm" and "insulating link/device" as devices that warn of proximity to power lines or that insulate against electricity and that have been "...listed, labeled or accepted by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory in accordance with § 29 CFR 1910.7" ("NRTL requirements"). These pieces of safety equipment must meet the performance requirements and the NRTL requirements as defined in § 1926.1401-Definitions to be used on cranes and derricks in construction.
To date, no proximity alarm or insulating link/device meets the NRTL requirements. Additionally, at this time, no NRTL is recognized by the Agency to perform the required testing to list, label or accept either type device. Proximity alarms and insulating links/devices which do not meet the NRTL requirements continue to be available, as they have for decades. These versions have not been "...listed, labeled or accepted by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory." OSHA does not anticipate proximity alarms or insulating links/devices which meet the NRTL requirements to be available in the near future.
Because there are no compliant proximity alarms or insulating links/devices, OSHA intends to follow the temporary policy noted below until further notice and will engage in rulemaking to address the unavailability of proximity alarms and insulating links/devices which meet these NRTL requirements. The temporary policy is for:
- proximity alarm use under § 1926.1407-Power line safety (up to 350 kV)-assembly and disassembly;
- proximity alarm and insulating link use under § 1926.1408-Power line safety (up to 350 kV)-equipment operations;
- proximity alarm and insulating link use under § 1926.1409-Power line safety (over 350 kV) through §§ 1926.1407 and 1926.1408; and
- insulating link/device use under § 1926.1410-Power line safety (all voltages)-equipment operations closer than the Table A zone.
Because no current proximity alarms meet the NRTL requirements, employers may not rely solely on proximity alarms to comply with the requirements of the cranes standard. However, an employer may use a crane/derrick in construction with a proximity alarm in conjunction with another appropriate "measure" from §§ 1926.1407(b)(3) or 1926.1408(b)(4), such as a "dedicated spotter" or "range control warning device." If these conditions are met, the employer will not be considered to be in violation of either §§ 1926.1407(b)(3) or 1926.1408(b)(4), including situations where voltages are over 350 kV as referenced in § 1926.1409.
Because no current insulating links/devices meet the NRTL requirements in the § 1926.1401 definition for "insulating link/device," employers may not rely solely on an insulating link/device to comply with requirements of the cranes standard. However, an employer may use a crane/derrick in construction with an insulating link in conjunction with another appropriate "measure" from § 1926.1408(b)(4), such as a "dedicated spotter" or "range control warning device." If these conditions are met, the employer will not be considered to be in violation of § 1926.1408(b)(4), including situations where voltages are over 350kV as referenced in § 1926.1409. Additionally, OSHA will not cite any employer for a violation of § 1926.1410(d)(4) (requirement that an insulating link/device be "installed at a point between the end of the load line (or below) and the load") if an employer is using an insulating link/device manufactured on any date, as specified in § 1926.1410(d)(4)(v)(A), and in conjunction with the additional protections in § 1926.1410(d)(4)(v)(B), such as insulated gloves rated for the voltage involved.
cc: Dorothy Dougherty, Deputy Assistant Secretary