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 2, 2015

Mr. Shannon E. Watts
Senior Engineer
Transmission, Safety &s; Skills Training Entergy Services, Inc.
6540 Watkins Drive
Jackson, MS 39213

Dear Mr. Watts:

Thank you for your July, 2015 correspondence to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Directorate of Enforcement Programs. You requested that OSHA provide an interpretation of the requirements in 29 CFR 1910.269 and 29 CFR Part 1926, Subpart V, regarding following the minimum approach distance requirements contained in those standards during the installation of protective grounds. Your question is paraphrased below, with OSHA's response.

Question: Must an employer ensure that employees installing protective grounds on transmission and distribution lines and equipment follow the minimum approach distance requirements in 29 CFR 1910.269(l)(3) [or, as applicable, 29 CFR 1926.960(c)] after the employee tests, and ensures the deenergization of, the lines and equipment.

Response: Testing transmission and distribution lines and equipment to ensure the lines and equipment are deenergized does not, in itself, permit the employer to treat the lines and equipment as deenergized. Paragraph (m)(3)(viii) of 29 CFR 1910.269 [or, as applicable, 29 CFR 1926.961(c)(8)] requires that, before an employer may treat transmission and distribution lines and equipment as deenergized, the employer must ensure the requirements of paragraph (m)(3)(i) through (m)(3)(vii), or, as applicable, 29 CFR 1926.961(c)(1) through (c)(7), have been followed. Until such time as an employer follows these requirements, the employer must treat the lines and equipment as energized. Paragraph (1) of 29 CFR 1910.269 (or, as applicable, 29 CFR 1926.960) requires employers to ensure that employees that work on exposed live parts, or near enough to them to expose the employee to any hazard they present, follow the minimum approach distance and other requirements contained in that standard. As such, unless an employer has followed all requirements in 29 CFR 1910.269(m)(3)(i) though (m)(3)(vii) [or, as applicable, 29 CFR 1926.961(c)(1) through (c)(7)], the employer must follow the minimum approach distance requirements in sections 1910.269(l)(3) [or, as applicable, 29 CFR 1926.960(c)]. When all the requirements in 29 CFR 1910.269(m)(3)(i) though (m)(3)(vii) [or, as applicable, 29 CFR 1926.961(c)(1) through (c)(7)] are followed, the minimum approach distance requirements in sections 1910.269(l)(3) [or, as applicable, 29 CFR 1926.960(c)] do not apply;

OSHA emphasizes, however, that, in such circumstances, employers must still use precautions near deenergized lines and equipment and consider the potential for the lines and equipment to inadvertently become reenergized.

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 https://www.osha.gov. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Directorate of Enforcement Programs at (202) 693-2100.

Sincerely,

 

 

Thomas Galassi, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs