OSHA Regulations on Electrical Hazards

Author: Randy Charpentier
Electricity is essential in modern life, both at home and on the job. Some employees such as engineers, electronic technicians, electricians and power line workers are people who directly work with electricity. Others, such as office workers and sales people, work with it indirectly. Perhaps because it has become such a familiar part of our daily life that a number of people don't give much thought to how much our work depends on electricity. Significantly, we tend to overlook the hazards electricity poses and fail to treat it with the respect it deserves. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 1999, 278 workers died of electrocutions at workplace, accounting for almost 5 percent of all on-the-job fatalities that year.
Electrical Hazards
Working with electricity can be dangerous. Professionals, who work with electricity directly such as working on cable harnesses, circuit assemblies and overhead electric lines, others like sales people, who work with electricity indirectly, may be exposed to electrical hazards. OSHA's electrical standards are designed to protect employees exposed to dangers of electricity. Electrical hazards are addressed in specific standards for the general industry, marine terminals and shipyard employment. Electricity has long been recognized as a serious workplace hazard, exposing employees to electrocution, shock, burns and explosions. Listed below are the OSHA Guidelines for managing Hazardous Energy Sources.
Regulations to Disable Machinery
The OSHA standard for the Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout), Title 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 1910.147, deals with the practices and procedures necessary to disable machinery, thereby stopping the release of hazardous energy while employees perform servicing and maintenance activities. The standard outlines measures for controlling hazardous energies—electrical, hydraulic, mechanical, thermal, and pneumatic, other energy sources. In addition, 29 CFR 1910.333 sets requirements to protect employees working on electric circuits and equipment. This section requires workers to use safe work practices, such as lockout and tagging procedures.
Standards to Address Electrical Safety
OSHA standards cover many electrical hazards in various industries. OSHA's general industry electrical safety standards are published in Title 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 1910.302 to 1910.308 -- Design Safety Standards for Electrical Systems, 1910.331 to 1910.335 -- Electrical Safety-Related Work Practices Standards. The electrical standards of OSHA are based on the National Fire Protection Association Standards NFPA 70, National Electric Code, and NFPA 70E, Electrical Safety Requirements for Employee Workplaces. OSHA also has electrical safety standards for the construction industry, in 29 CFR 1926, Subpart K. OSHA's standards for marine terminals, in 29 CFR 1917, and for long shoring, in 29 CFR 1918, reference the general industry electrical standards in Subpart S of Part 1910. The shipyard standards, in 29 CFR 1915, cover limited electrical safety work practices in 29 CFR 1915.181.

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