On April 11th 2014, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released its final rule on changes to the Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution (1910.269) and Electrical Protective Equipment (1926 subpart V) standards. These updates to the decades-old electrical safety standards bring OSHA guidelines back in line with general industry standards and are expected to prevent an estimated 20 deaths and 118 serious injuries per year.
While it is essential for employers to review the complete OSHA final rule, we have broken down a number of the key changes as they relate to flame-resistant (FR) clothing and personal protective equipment (PPE) programs.
- Employers must assess the workplace and identify workers who may be exposed to flame or electric arc hazards.
- Employers must estimate the incident heat energy of any electric-arc hazard to which a worker would be exposed.
- Employers must provide workers exposed to electric arc hazards with protective clothing and protective equipment with an arc rating greater than or equal to the estimated heat energy.
- Employers must ensure that workers use protective footwear as a supplementary form of protection when it will help protect the workers from electrical hazards.
- Employers are responsible for the appropriate selection, use, care, and maintenance of their workers’ PPE.
The changes to the 1910.269 and 1926.950-60 OSHA electrical safety standards are already in effect. The requirements for appropriate PPE and FR apparel went into effect on December 31st 2014, and as of March 31st 2015, employers were expected to have determined reasonable estimates of potential incident energy exposure. Any additional PPE required based on those estimates must be provided to workers by April 1st 2015, although no citations will be issued before August 31st 2015 relating to a lack of PPE rated higher than 8.0 cal/cm².
The new Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution and Electrical Protective Equipment standards requires employers to ensure that the outer layer of clothing worn by workers is flame resistant when:
- The worker is exposed to contact with energized circuit parts operating at more than 600 volts.
- An electric arc could ignite flammable material in the work area that might then ignite the worker’s clothing.
- Molten metal or electrical arcs from faulted conductors in the work area could ignite the worker’s clothing.
- Estimated incident energy exceeds 2.0 cal/cm².
Remember that it is the employer’s responsibility to assess whether these hazards exist and provide the appropriate PPE for their employees.
Depending on the kind of hazards your workers encounter in the workplace, it may require an investment in FR apparel for your business. Take a look at our online store or contact Workrite today and we’ll help you to find the right flame-resistant clothing for your needs.