New Safety Standards For Electrical Workers
It has been over 40 years since OSHA has revised safety protocol for workers that deal with power generation sources such as power lines and electrical utility boxes. Work Involving power generation sources includes work near live wires and or high above the ground. Technology and training needs have changed and advanced so much that the old standards are no longer relevant.
In a recent press release OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels said “This long overdue update will save nearly 20 lives and prevent 118 serious injuries annually.” “Electric utilities, electrical contractors and labor organizations have persistently championed these much needed measures to better protect the men and women who work near or on power lines.”
The revisions include but are not limited to:
- Training: New or revised provisions for host and contract employers to share safety-related information with each other and with employees.
• Minimum Approach Distances: Employers must determine maximum anticipated per-unit transient over voltages through an engineering analysis or, as an alternative, assume certain maximum anticipated per-unit transient over voltages. This will replace the previous requirements for employers to establish minimum approach distances based on old formulas.
• Fall Protection: Improve fall protection for employees working from aerial lifts and on overhead line structures.
• Updated Personal Protection Equipment: Employers must make reasonable estimates of heat energy, in which a worker could be exposed to flames or electric arc based on the new minimum approach distance requirements. Outer layer of clothing worn by workers must be flame resistant under certain conditions. Both the general industry and construction standards for electrical protective equipment will include new requirements for equipment made of materials other than rubber. The requirement to wear protective footwear against electric shock while performing work on electric power generation, transmission and distribution installations was removed.
• De-energizing of Equipment: The revised requirements for protective grounding permit employers to install and remove protective grounds on lines and equipment operating at 600 volts or less without using a live-line tool under certain conditions. Operating mechanical equipment near overhead power lines clarify that the exemption from the requirement to maintain minimum approach distances applies only to the insulated portions of aerial lifts. The revised provisions include work done around manholes.
OSHA believes that “monetized benefits” of $179 million annually with net benefits close to $130 million annually will occur due to decreasing injuries and fatalities with the revised standard.