Working with and around electricity poses many occupational dangers. Almost all workers are exposed to electrical energy during the performance of their daily duties.
Electrocution is known to be one of the Fatal Four for worker fatalities in the construction industry. Many workers tend to be unaware of potential electrical hazards present in their work environments. Any job that runs the risk of exposure to hazards such as electric shock, electrocution, fires, and explosions must be in compliance with OSHA’s electrical standards.
On April 1, 2014 OSHA announced a new rule with updated standards to align OSHA’s electricity construction standard with current industry standards. The new standard strives to update standards for employees performing duties related to electric power generation, transmission and distribution work.
Noteworthy changes contained within the new OSHA rule are outlined as follows:
- Employees exposed to electrical hazards from electrical arcs must be provided appropriate PPE
- Contractors and Subcontractors must share and coordinate all safety matters as well as work rules and procedures
- Qualified workers must use fall protection when climbing or changing location on poles, towers, or other structures.
- Employee training must be determined based on amount of risk exposure to the hazard involved.
- Multiple crews utilizing the same equipment or working on the same lines must effectively coordinate their activities.
- Line-clearance tree trimmers must have training on recognizing and distinguishing exposed live parts and determining their voltage to avoid electrical hazards
- Work-positioning equipment must be rigged so that workers can free fall no more than two feet.
It is estimated the new rule will save around 20 lives as well as prevent about 120 serious injuries annually. The new rule becomes final 90 days post publication in the Federal Register.