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Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1910.269

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

August 10, 1995


Deputy Assistant Secretary

SUBJECT: Guidelines for the Enforcement of the Apparel Standard, 29 CFR 1910.269(l)(6), of the Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution Standard

This memorandum provides interim guidance regarding the subject standard. This guidance will remain in effect until it is amended or becomes part of a general compliance directive addressing the electric power generation, transmission, and distribution (otherwise identified as the electric power generation) standard. Paragraph 1910.269(l)(6) and the note associated with paragraph (l)(6)(iii) which follows is reiterated below.
"Apparel. (i) When work is performed within reaching distance of exposed energized parts of equipment, the employer shall ensure that each employee removes or renders nonconductive all exposed conductive articles, such as key or watch chains, rings, or wrist watches or bands, unless such articles do not increase the hazards associated with contact with the energized parts.

(ii) The employer shall train each employee who is exposed to the hazards of flames or electric arcs in the hazards involved.

(iii) The employer shall ensure that each employee who is exposed to the hazards of flames or electric arcs does not wear clothing that, when exposed to flames or electric arcs, could increase the extent of injury that would be sustained by the employee.

NOTE: Clothing made from the following types of fabrics, either alone or in blends, is prohibited by this paragraph, unless the employer can demonstrate that the fabric has been treated to withstand the conditions that may be encountered or that the clothing is worn in such a manner as to eliminate the hazard involved: acetate, nylon, polyester, rayon."
During inspections of electric power generation, transmission, arid distribution work sites, Compliance Safety and Health Officers (CSHO's) will request employers to demonstrate compliance with applicable performance-oriented requirements of paragraph 1910.269(l)(6). This request shall be made to determine whether an employer: has appropriate policies and guidelines on the selection, care, and use of apparel; informs employees of these policies and guidelines; and, ensures that these policies and guidelines are followed. With reference to these policies and guidelines, CSHO's shall determine what steps are taken by an employer to ensure that employees do not wear clothing that increases injury. CSHO's shall verify compliance by reviewing documentation, performing visual inspections, and interviewing employees.

Our enforcement policy with regard to the paragraph 1910.269(l)(6) apparel standard follows.
  1. Paragraph 1910.269(l)(6)(i) - Citations shall be issued when CSHO's determine that employees wear exposed conductive articles when performing work within reaching distance of exposed, energized parts, unless they have rendered such articles of apparel non-conductive. For example, metal rings may be removed or covered so as to eliminate the contact hazard.

  2. Paragraph 1910.269(l)(6)(ii) - This paragraph shall be cited when employees who are exposed to flames or electric arcs have not been trained regarding apparel-related hazards covered by paragraph 1910.269(l)(6). This is consistent with paragraph 1910.269(a)(2)(i), which requires training in safety practices.

  3. Paragraph 1910.269(l)(6)(iii) - This paragraph shall be cited when employees who are exposed to electric arcs or flame are found to wear the following apparel:

    1. Any clothing that is not flame resistant or flame-retardant-treated, if the clothing can ignite under the electric arc and flame exposure conditions found at the workplace. (See also paragraph 4, later in this memorandum.)

    2. Clothing made from acetate, nylon, polyester, or rayon, alone or in blends, unless the employer demonstrates that the fabric has been treated to withstand the conditions that may be encountered, that is, made flame resistant or flame-retardant-treated, or that the clothing is worn in a manner that eliminates the hazard involved.
      Note: If a prohibited material is worn as one of multiple layers of clothing, hazards still may be present. If the layer of clothing made from a prohibited material is worn as the outside layer of clothing, there is a hazard that the fabric could ignite and burn the employee's face. Continued burning, likely, would burn other parts of the employee's body at some point. If a layer of clothing made from a prohibited material is worn as a middle or inside layer of clothing, and if enough heat passed through the outer layer(s), there is a hazard that the fabric also could ignite (assuming sufficient air flow). If a layer of clothing made from a prohibited material is worn as the inside layer of clothing, there is a hazard that the fabric could melt in contact with the employee's a skin thereby causing a burn injury. The employer must be able to demonstrate that a prohibited material worn by an employee does not cause the aforementioned hazards.
    3. A single layer of clothing made from natural materials, such as cotton or wool, that is less than 11 ounces per square yard (409 grams per square meter) (denim-weight material) and that is not flame-retardant-treated, unless the employer has determined:

      1. That the possible electric arc exposure is less than that posed by an 3800-ampere arc that is 12 inches (30.48 cm) long and 12 inches away from the employee and that last for 10 cycles, (1/6 of a second); and

      2. That the clothing being worn will not ignite under the electric arc and flame conditions possible at the employee's actual work place. This can be done through employer-run tests of the actual clothing to be worn or through reliance on such tests run by others.

        Note: For practical purposes, CSHO's may determine that all-cotton or all-wool fabrics that are at least the approximate weight of denim typically used in work jackets meet the requirements of 1910.269. If noticeably lighter weights of fabric are worn, the CSHO shall determine how the employer determined that such fabrics were safe for use in applicable working condition.

  4. For the following scenario, citations shall not be issued under the provisions of paragraph 3.C above.

  5. Scenario: In a workplace accident an employee was injured when the clothing he or she was wearing ignited (from exposure to an electric arc or flame) and burned. The employer had predetermined that the apparel that the injured employee was wearing was appropriate for the workplace application. The employer had taken all of the following actions:

    1. The employer has predetermined reasonable estimates of the actual workplace electric arc and flame conditions,

      Note: What constitutes a reasonable estimate of actual exposure conditions will vary with the electrical system, with the methods used to work on energized equipment, and with the work practices used to limit the exposure to flames or electric arcs. The total heat energy exposure (which determines whether or not a given fabric will ignite) depends on: the length of the arc, the distance from the arc, the duration of the arc, and the arc current. The assumed distance from any possible arc will be the one factor that cannot be determined from the electrical system's parameters. For hot-stick work performed from below the conductors, for rubber glove work methods and for other work methods that place the employee close to exposed energized parts, the employer must assume that an arc can occur at no more than 6 to 12 inches (15.24 to 30.48 cm) from the employee, unless the employer can demonstrate that safeguards are in place to assure that an arc cannot occur this close to the employee. For hot-stick work that places the employee to the side or above the exposed energized parts, the employer may determine that the arc will occur at a greater distance from the employee. However, for any work method, the employer must consider the different types of mechanical failures and human errors in determining the distance (which in the worst case will be less than the actual approach distance).

    2. The employer has selected clothing which was appropriate for the estimated exposure conditions in accordance with paragraphs 3.b.i and 3.b.ii above,

    3. The employer has provided evidence of the determination outlined in paragraph 3.b above, and

    4. The employer has reassessed the workplace electric arc and flame conditions and has taken necessary corrective actions as a result of the accident.

Apparel which meets the flame resistant clothing requirements of the American Society For Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard, ASTM F1506-1994, is acceptable under all flame and electric arc hazard conditions for compliance with the paragraph 1910.269(l)(6)(iii) standard.

We recognize that employees typically provide part or all of their own work clothing. However, no matter who provides the clothing employees wear, the employer is responsible for ensuring that the flame resistance or flame-retardant-treated conditions of apparel worn by an employee who is exposed to the hazards of electric arcs or flames are maintained whether made from natural materials of appropriate weight or made from synthetic materials. The flame resistant or flame-retardant-treated properties of apparel can be compromised if the garment is incorrectly laundered or repaired and, in any case, will diminish to the point of ineffectiveness after many washings. Since the employer is responsible for ensuring that apparel remain flame resistant or flame-retardant-treated, the employer may wish to instruct his or her employees as to appropriate laundering.

The employer is required to provide engineering controls, safe work procedures and PPE to protect employees from exposure to hazards; that is, harmful energy sources. One such harmful energy source is an electric arc or flame which is considered the primary hazard in this work place application. The Apparel Standard is intended to provide worker protection from exposure to the secondary hazard of the employee's clothing burning or melting and making even worse any injuries caused by primary exposure to the electric arc or flame. While OSHA requires, with exceptions, that employers provide and pay for PPE, paragraph 1910.269(l)(6)(iii) is silent on these points. Note that this Apparel Standard is not considered a personal protective equipment (PPE) standard; however, it may apply to personal protective equipment. For example, paragraph 1910.269(l)(6)(iii) applies to an employer who provides personal protective clothing worn by an employee, who is exposed to the hazards of electric arcs or flames, for protection against cold or rain.

Because it is not a PPE requirement, the Apparel Standard does not address whether or not an employee's clothing must cover all exposed parts of the employee's body. The Apparel Standard, by itself, does not prohibit employers from purchasing flame-retardant-treated short sleeve shirts or from altering flame-retardant-treated long sleeve shirts to shorten the sleeves. However, such practices are discouraged. Flame-retardant-treated clothing provides a measure of protection to an employee exposed to an electric arc.

From this standpoint, flame-retardant-treated clothing which covers not only the body and legs, but also the arms provides better protection to the employee.
Note: An employer would be in a citable posture for violation of [1910.132] of the Subpart I Personal protective equipment standard when it is a generally accepted safe work practice of the industry to wear clothing which covers the arms, legs or other exposed surfaces of the body to protect an employee in a particular workplace application and the employee does not do so.
[Corrected 11/22/2004.]

Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents

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