OSHA Revising Electric Power Line Work Construction Standard

OSHA is revising the construction standard for electric power line work to make it more consistent with the corresponding general industry standard and is also making some revisions to both the construction and general industry requirements.

Here are some examples of the types of injuries and fatalities the standard will prevent:

  • As an electric utility worker was installing replacement batteries in a substation, an electrical fault occurred when a battery cable fell onto the terminals on one of the installed batteries. The ensuing electric arc severely burned and melted his rubber insulating gloves. He sustained second- and third-degree burns, requiring several surgeries, as well as multi-day hospitalization. See incident report.
  • A power line worker descending a utility pole fell about 10 meters to the ground when his pole climbers cut out. He sustained fractured ribs, fractured pelvis, fractured legs, and internal injuries and was hospitalized for 14 days. See incident report.
  • While a power line worker was moving his aerial lift platform away from a utility pole after completing repairs, a tractor-trailer struck the aerial lift truck, ejecting the worker from the platform. He died of injuries sustained in the fall. See incident report.

The final rule includes new or revised requirements for fall protection, minimum approach distances, and arc-flash protection, and for host employers and contract employers to exchange safety-related information. The final rule also includes requirements for electrical protective equipment.

OSHA’s Dr David Michaels said in a statement: “The long-overdue final rule updating a 40-year-old standard will save nearly 20 lives and prevent 118 serious injuries annually. Electric utilities, electrical contractors, and labor organizations have long championed these much-needed measures to better protect the men and women who work on or near electrical power lines.”