Tuesday, December 24, 2013

OSHA New Rules For Power Line Workers

OSHA is proposing to update the existing standard for the construction of electric power transmission and distribution installations and make it consistent with the more recently promulgated general industry standard addressing the maintenance and repair of electric power generation, transmission, and distribution lines and equipment. The proposal also makes some miscellaneous changes to both standards, including adding provisions related to host employers and contractors, flame resistant clothing, and training, and updates the construction standard for electrical protective equipment, makes it consistent with the corresponding general industry standard, and makes it applicable to construction generally.

The existing rules for this type of work were issued in 1971. They are out of date and are not consistent with the more recent, corresponding rules for theoperation and maintenance of electric power transmission and distribution systems. The revised standard would include requirements relating to enclosed spaces, working near energized parts, grounding for employee protection, work on underground and overhead installations, work in substations, and other special conditions and equipment unique to the transmission and distribution of electric energy.

OSHA is also proposing a new standard on electrical protective equipment for the construction industry. The current standards for the design of electrical protective equipment, which apply only to electric power transmission and distribution work, adopt several national consensus standards by reference. The new standard would replace the incorporation of these out-of-date consensus standards with a set of performance-oriented requirements that is consistent with the latest revisions of these consensus standards and with the corresponding standard for general industry.

Additionally, OSHA is proposing new requirements for the safe use and care of electrical protective equipment to complement the equipment design provisions. In addition, OSHA is proposing changes to the two correspondinggeneral industry standards. These changes address:
Class 00 rubber insulating gloves, electrical protective equipment made from materials other than rubber, training for electric power generation, transmission, and distribution workers, host-contractor responsibilities, job briefings, fall protection (including a requirement that employees in aerial lifts use harnesses), insulation and working position of employees working on or near live parts, protective clothing, minimum approach distances, deenergizing transmission and distribution lines and equipment, protective grounding, operating mechanical equipment near overhead power lines, and working in manholes and vaults.
These changes would ensure that employers, where appropriate, face consistent requirements for work performed under the construction and general industry standards and would further protect employees performing electrical work covered under the general industry standards.

The proposal would also update references to consensus standards in §§ 1910.137 and 1910.269 and would add new appendices to help employers comply with provisions on protective clothing and the inspection of work positioning equipment.

OSHA is also proposing to revise the general industry standard for foot protection. This standard has substantial application to employers performing work on electric power transmission and distribution installations, but that applies to employers in other industries as well. The proposal would remove the requirement for employees to wear protective footwear as protection against electric shock. (Federal Register, / Vol. 70, No. 114 / Wednesday, June 15, 2005 / Proposed Rules)

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