Fall Protection Changes Resulting from Revising OSHA 1910.269
On April 11, 2014, OSHA issued a final rule revising OSHA 1910.269 Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution for general industry. According to OSHA, the revision had a compliance deadline for some provisions on fall protection, minimum approach distances, and arc-flash protection on April 1, 2015. This final rule affects companies that operate, maintain, or repair electric power generation, transmission, or distribution installations. OSHA 1910.269 also affects many industries that have distribution systems or maintain transmission and distribution substations.
Being aware of electrical hazards is essential to understanding OSHA electrical safety requirements. There are three main electrical hazards: electric shock, arc flash, and arc blast. Electric shock occurs when a person’s body bridges the current path between an energized conductor and a grounded surface or object. Arc flash is a phenomenon where a flashover of electric current leaves its intended path and travels through the air from one conductor to another or to ground. Arc blast is the rapid expansion of the air caused by an electrical arc.
There were several significant new or revised sections in OSHA 1910.269:
- 1910.269(a)(2) Training
- 1910.269(a)(3) Information Transfer
- 1910.269(c) Job Briefing
- 1910.269(g)(2) Fall Protection
- 1910.269(l)(3) Minimum Approach Distances
- 1910.269(l)(8) Protection from Flames and Electric Arcs
- 1910.269(m) Deenergizing Lines and Equipment for Employee Protection
- 1910.269(n) Grounding for Protection of Employees
- 1910.269(t) Underground Electrical Installations
The fall protection section of 1910.269 now requires qualified employees climbing or changing location on poles, towers, or similar structures to use fall protection equipment unless the employer can demonstrate that climbing or changing location with fall protection is infeasible or creates a greater hazard than climbing or changing location without it. Personal fall arrest equipment used by employees who are exposed to hazards from flames or electric arcs must be capable of passing a drop test after exposure to an electric arc with a heat energy of 40±5 cal/cm2. Work positioning equipment must be rigged so that workers can free-fall no more than two feet (0.6 meters). OSHA defines “work positioning equipment” in this context as “a body belt or body harness system rigged to allow an employee to be supported on an elevated vertical surface, such as a utility pole or tower leg, and work with both hands free while leaning.” Work positioning equipment must be inspected before each use daily to ensure its safe working condition.
For more information on the other significant or revised sections of 1910.269, check out “Significant Revisions to OSHA 29 CFR 1910.269” in Occupational Health & Safety Magazine.
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