The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) is responsible for enforcing work place safety regulations in the U.S. OSHA is a part of the U.S. Department of Labor and was established as a law in 1970, and became effective in 1971. The Occupational Safety and Health Act allows OSHA to issue workplace health and safety regulations. These regulations include limits on chemical exposure, employee access to information, requirements for the use of personal protective equipment, and requirements for safety procedures.
For General Industry OSHA 29 CFR-1910 Subpart S regulates electrical safety, and states in part that “Safety related work practices shall be employed to prevent electric shock or other injuries resulting from either direct or indirect electrical contacts…” In general, employers have a number of responsibilities under this regulation:
- Creation and documentation of a facility electrical safety plan with defined responsibilities
- Documented training in electrical and arc flash safety, for both electrical workers and any other workers who might be affected
- Identification and analysis of arc flash hazards
- Provision of adequate personal protective equipment
- Placement of warning labels on equipment
- Provision of proper tools for safe electrical work.
- Verification, through annual inspections, that individual employees are complying with established safe work practices
As with any electrical safety program OSHA emphasizes that no work should be performed on live electrical equipment above 50 V. There are exceptions to this which are mirrored in the NFPA 70E. Exceptions include causing a greater safety hazard by de-energizing electrical equipment, or where de-energizing is infeasible due to equipment design or the electrical task being performed.
OSHA requires that appropriate lockout/tagout procedures are followed any time electrical equipment is to be de-energized. This helps to ensure that the equipment is not accidentally re-energized during the work.
OSHA regulations do not give any guidelines on how to be in compliance. They simply state compliance is necessary and a safe work environment is required. OSHA relies on standards such as the NFPA 70E to provide detailed requirements for workplace safety compliance.
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