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• Standard Number: 1910.269(l)(1)(i); 1910.269(l)(1)(ii)

August 27, 2001

[Name and Address Withheld]

Dear [Name Withheld]:

Thank you for your November 30, 2000 letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Methuen Area Office. Your letter has been referred to the Directorate of Compliance Programs for (1) an answer to your specific question related to a "Troubleworker" working alone while changing cutouts in non-emergency situations, and (2) a review of the work practice, Distribution Work Procedure, Emergency/Troubleworker Changing Cutouts.

Your letter concerns work covered by the Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution standard, 29 CFR §1910.269. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any scenario not delineated within your original correspondence. Some background information, your scenario, and our reply follow.

Background: Paragraphs 1910.269(l)(1)(i) and (ii) establish certain types of work where at least two employees must be present. Paragraph 1910.269(l)(1)(i) provides that at least two employees must be present during:

  1. Installation, removal, or repair of lines energized at more than 600 volts;

  2. Installation, removal, or repair of deenergized lines if an employee is exposed to contact with other parts energized at more than 600 volts;

  3. 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;

  4. Work using mechanical equipment, other than insulated aerial lifts, near parts energized at more than 600 volts; and

  5. Other work exposing an employee to electrical hazards greater than or equal to those posed by operations that are specifically listed above.

Paragraph 1910.269(l)(1)(ii), however, provides three exemptions to the above:

  1. Routine circuit switching, if the employer can demonstrate that conditions at the site allow this work to be performed safely;

  2. Work performed with live-line tools if the employee is neither within reach of nor otherwise exposed to contact with energized parts; and

  3. Emergency repairs to the extent necessary to safeguard the general public.

Thus, an employee must be accompanied by at least one other employee if the work falls into one of the categories in paragraph 1910.269(l)(1)(i) but does not fall within any of the exemptions in paragraph 1910.269(l)(1)(ii).

Scenario: For the past several years at your company, a single worker, using the rubber gloving method, has changed cutouts and covered primary lines. After reading the applicable OSHA regulations, you formed the opinion that a "Troubleworker" working alone using the rubber gloving method cannot perform any primary voltage work in excess of 700 volts. The only exception to this rule, in your opinion, would be for the protection of the public safety and then the worker could perform only minimum repairs until the proper equipment and crew complement could be obtained.

Question: In a non-emergency situation, may a single "Troubleworker" change a cutout using the rubber gloving method, when the voltage is in excess of 700 volts?

Reply: No, at least two employees must be present while this work is being performed.1 The non-emergency "hands-on" work - using rubber insulating gloves on parts energized at 700 volts or more to remove and install a replacement-in-kind cutout - falls within the categories listed in 1910.269(l)(1)(i) above. See §1910.269(l)(1)(i)(A) ("Installation, removal, or repair of lines that are energized at more than 600 volts"); and §1910.269(l)(1)(i)(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"). At the same time, your described non-emergency work does not fall within any of the exemptions listed in paragraph 1910.269(l)(1)(ii).

Review of Work Practice: You also request a written review of the work practice titled Distribution Work Procedure, Emergency/Troubleworker Changing Cutouts.2 After reviewing the work practice, we note that the procedures outlined do not appear to meet the two exceptions listed in paragraphs (l)(2)(ii)(A) and (B). Thus, these procedures could only be performed by a single Troubleworker" under the remaining exception in paragraph (l)(2)(ii)(C); they may only be performed by an employee working alone in an emergency situation and only to the extent that the procedures constitute the minimum necessary to safeguard the general public.

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 Compliance Assistance at (202) 693-1850.

Sincerely,


Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs



1 In the §1910.269 rulemaking, OSHA determined that there was a need, with some types of work, for having an extra employee present. The preamble to the final standard presented OSHA's rationale: in the event of an electric shock incident, the two person requirement provides, "the immediate availability of a person trained in CPR [cardiopulmonary resuscitation]." The Agency also noted that an additional worker, "should be able to point out poor work practices to their fellow employees." (59 FR 4380, Jan. 31, 1994) [back to text]

2 Please note that OSHA does not officially endorse, approve, or certify any product or materials, including work procedures. [back to text]


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