An April 2014 final ruling by OSHA that changed regulations in Construction’s Subpart V – Power Transmission and Distribution and Electrical Protective Equipment. The General Industry Electrical Protective Equipment standard also changed.
These changes will affect electric utilities and construction contractors hired by them, manufacturers and other industries that own or operate their own electric power, and any industry that is involved in electric power generation, transmission and distribution. Also companies that carry out line-clearance tree-trimming, need to take note.
OSHA is updating the 40-year-old electric power line work construction regulation, along with the general industry code, to make them consistent with each other.
- New standards that require host and contract employers to share safety-related information with each other and their employees
- Improved fall protection standards for employees working from aerial lifts and on overhead line structures
- Revised approach distance requirements to keep unprotected workers away from energized lines and equipment
- New requirements to protect employees from electric arcs
- Safe use and care of electrical protective equipment – equipment made of materials other than rubber also must provide adequate electrical protection
The following breakdown for employers explains where these changes apply and what employers need to know.
The risk of the potential hazard(s) must be considered when determining the degree of training required. This means qualified workers must have training to recognize and control the electrical hazards that are at the worksite. 1926.950(b)(1)(iii)
Line-clearance tree trimmers must receive the training to ensure they know exposed live parts and their voltage, and know how to maintain minimum approach distances. 1926.950(a)(3)
Employers no longer have to certify that workers are proficient in safe work practices. 1926.950(b)(7)
Host Employers and Contractors
Host and contract employers must coordinate their efforts by sharing safety-related information, work rules, and procedures. 1926.950(c)(1)
Fall protection will be required when climbing or changing location on poles, towers, or structures. There is an exception if fall protection is infeasible or would create a greater hazard than not using it. 1926.954(b)(3)(iii)(C)
Fall arrest equipment that is used where employees are exposed to flames or electric arc hazards will have to be able to pass a drop test after being hit with an electric arc with a heat energy of 40±5 cal/cm2. 1926.954(b)(2)(vii)
Work-positioning equipment must keep workers from falling less than 2 feet (0.6 meters). 1926.954(b)(3)(iv)
Minimum Approach Distances
The minimum approach distances have been updated, also with information to help establish them. 1926.960(c)(1)
Flames and Electric Arc Hazard Protection
Employers will need to identify workers exposed to flame or electric hazards, and estimate the incident heat energy of potential electric-arc hazards in order to provide protective equipment and clothing equal to the estimated heat energy. 1926.960(g)(2), 1926.960(g)(4)
De-energizing Transmission and Distribution Lines and Equipment
When there is more than one crew working on the same line or equipment they must either (1926.961):
- Have a single worker in charge of coordinating activities as if all employees are a single crew, or
- Ensure both crews independently comply with the standard and, if there is no system operator in charge of the lines or equipment, have separate tags and coordinate de-energizing and re-energizing the lines and equipment with other crews.
A live-line tool is no longer the only insulating equipment that employers may use for placing or removing grounds from circuits of 600 volt or less Employees can use other insulating equipment if it is safe to do so. 1926.962(f)(1)
Underground Electrical Installations
There are new, special precautions that apply when employees perform work that could cause a cable to fail. Instead of using potentially unsafe cables and hangers, appropriate devices (e.g. ladders) will need to be used when workers enter and equipment is lowered into, underground. 1926.965
Electrical Protective Equipment
The Electrical Protective Equipment for Construction standard’s applicability extends to all construction work replacing the construction standard’s old consensus standards. 1926.97
There are also changes to general industry standards. 1910.137
- Class 00 ‑ rubber insulating gloves ‑ is a new class of electrical protective equipment.
- There are new requirements for electrical protective equipment that is not made of rubber.
The general industry foot protection standard was revised.
It will require employers to ensure that workers use protective footwear when it protects from electric hazards such as static discharge and electric shock, after taking other necessary protective measures. 1910.136
In addition to creating new and updating current regulations, OSHA publishes interpretations and answers to questions about existing rules. Here is what has been released in 2014:
- Construction’s Electrical Power Regulations Final Rule
- Cranes and Derricks Near Power Lines
- Recordkeeping for Multiple Business Establishments
- How to Decide It’s a Workplace Injury
- Safety Data Sheet (SDS) Reporting of Petroleum Streams
- Combustible Dust Labeling Requirements in Hazard Communication Standard (HCS)
- OSHA Definition of A HNOC Clarified for the HCS
- General Duty Clause Covers All Impalement Hazards
- Employer Responsible for Determining Qualified Rigger Status