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Electrical power and safety rules: OSHA issues revision

Literally and figuratively, electricity has brought light to the modern world. Few of us would wish to live to a pre-electric world; it would certainly seem like the Dark Ages.

But electrical power carries with it various safety risks. In this post, we will discuss a rule recently released by federal regulators to update electrical safety protections in power plants and along power lines.

The rule was issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on April 1. It was the result of a very thorough and time-consuming rulemaking process that went on for over a decade. It replaces rules that had been in place for years

The purpose of the rule is to improve safety protections for workers who work with electric power generation and transmission.

The rule is not only directed toward the power industry. It also applies to general industry employers who are covered by the applicable provision of the Code of Federal Regulations.

To be sure, the new rule is primarily aimed at companies that build, operate or repair facilities for generating or transmitting electrical power. But it also extends to companies that do those things in conjunction with their main business operations.

The new rule has numerous components, with the overall goal of bringing electrical safety standards into alignment with current industry standards. These components include:
• Use of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as insulating gloves
• Fall protections
• Information-sharing concerning safety

OSHA estimates that implementation of the rule will prevent 20 fatalities each year. The rule is also projected to prevent 120 serious injuries annually.

The cost of implementing the rule is not insignificant. OSHA estimates that employers will bear about $50 million a year in compliance costs.

Source: Bloomberg, "OSHA Releases Final Rule Covering Electrical Safety for Power Plant, Power Line Workers," Robert Iafolla and Bruce Rolfsen, April 3, 2014

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