When OSHA Electric Power Safety Standards Apply

Reading and applying OSHA’s electrical power guidelines may prove challenging. Keep in mind that each section of the standard was created to address a distinct hazard. OSHA standards are considered minimum performance standards because they specify the minimum controls you must implement. It is possible to simplify the standard’s application by recognizing the hazard at the outset.

How Does OSHA Regulate Electrical Power?

Electrical system hazards pose a significant risk to workers who come into contact with them. According to their calculations, the electric power requirements set by OSHA might avert an additional 20 deaths and 118 major injuries every year. OSHA’s electrical power requirements are divided into sections to address the hazards that workers in general industry and construction face when conducting work that is covered by these rules.

Covered Work is defined as:

First, ask yourself this question: Is there a risk of electric power system risks on our project site? Electrical hazards, such as those associated with the transmission and distribution of electricity, are frequently included in discussions about electric power system dangers, but they can also include pole and tower fall hazards and manufacturing hazards specific to the electric power industry. Step and touch potentials, induced voltages, induced currents, electrical contact, equipment fires, and arc flashes are all examples of electrical hazards. OSHA’s electric power regulations may not apply if the identified system hazard can be found at other work locations. Always keep this in mind.

A new transmission line is being built parallel to an already-energized one, as in Example 1. However, despite the fact that the crew is not working on electrified equipment, step and touch potentials may be generated as a result of voltages and currents created by electric or magnetic field coupling or both with the powered neighbouring lines. Like those who work near live wires and other charged machinery, every construction crew member is at risk of electric shock and electrocution. Under the terms of the contract, this work is covered.

The following is an example

Building a power substation will require demolishing an area of land. This is a new development location. Due to the lack of specific electric power system threats, the site clearing business would not be doing electric power covered work.

Construction or General Industry?

The type of job to be performed must be determined in order to apply the proper standard for implementing OSHA’s regulations. Do you work in manufacturing, construction, or a combination of the two? Workplace rules must address the most demanding norm if both types of work are being performed to maintain consistency for your employees. To put it mildly, having differing requirements for people working in general industry vs construction would be unfair.

Workers who operate or maintain generation, transmission, or distribution lines and equipment must adhere to OSHA 29 CFR 1910.269, the general industry standard. The “269 rule” is the common name given to this set of requirements.

Subpart V of the 29 CFR governs the building of new electric transmission and distribution systems as well as the modification, conversion, and upgrading of already-existing systems. The “Subpart V rule” is a common name for this regulation.

In 2014, OSHA improved the alignment of the electrical power general industrial and building requirements. While there are some differences between the two standards, they are largely indistinguishable. A thorough investigation of the requirements can help you comprehend any discrepancies that may exist based on what you’re doing on the job. For example, medical services and first assistance are addressed differently in 1926 Subpart V than they are in 1910.269. If you don’t meet or surpass OSHA’s basic standards, you’ll need to identify the required standard for your work to guarantee you comprehend and meet OSHA’s regulations.


Assessing work with electrical system hazards is critical when deciding if OSHA’s electrical power regulations apply. After that, in the second part of this series, we’ll talk about training and qualification that needs to be based on the type of work and the electrical system hazards involved.

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