Does "Subpart V - Electric Power Transmission and Distribution" Apply to You?

Subpart V provides the standards for electric power transmission and distribution. It does not apply to electrical safety-related work practices for unqualified employees. Do your employees conduct construction activities on electric power transmission and distribution lines and equipment?  If yes, then you need to comply with this subpart.

Construction includes the erection of new electric transmission and distribution lines and equipment, and the alteration, conversion, and improvement of existing electric transmission and distribution lines and equipment.

Note:  According to the general standard, an employer that complies with the general industry standard, electric power generation, transmission, and distribution, is considered in compliance with requirements in subpart V that do not reference other subparts of 29 CFR Part 1926 - Construction. Compliance with electric power generation, transmission, and distribution does not excuse an employer from compliance obligations under other subparts of 29 CFR Part 1926. It also states that the following general industry standard requirements are applicable:

The subpart provides key definitions applicable to the subpart including:

Qualified employee (qualified person) is an employee (person) knowledgeable in the construction and operation of the electric power generation, transmission, and distribution equipment involved, along with the associated hazards.

Host employer is an employer that operates, or that controls the operating procedures for, an electric power generation, transmission, or distribution installation on which a contract employer is performing work covered by this subpart. OSHA will treat the electric utility or the owner of the installation as the host employer if it operates or controls operating procedures for the installation. If the electric utility or installation owner neither operates nor controls operating procedures for the installation, OSHA will treat the employer that the utility or owner has contracted with to operate or control the operating procedures for the installation as the host employer. In no case will there be more than one host employer.

Contract employer is an employer, other than a host employer, that performs work covered by this subpart under contract.

The general standard also provides the requirements for training (i.e., safety related work practices, safety procedures, qualified person training, supervision, annual inspections, types of training demonstration of proficiency), host employer responsibilities, contract employer responsibilities, joint host and contract employer responsibilities, and existing characteristics and conditions (i.e., environmental, condition of circuits and equipment).

The medical services and first aid standard references complying with medical services and first aid, and having first aid trained employees for field work and fixed work locations. The standard on job briefing provides requirements for briefings before each job, number of briefings, extent of briefings, subjects to be covered, when additional briefings should occur, and briefings for those working alone.

The personal protective equipment standard provides that the personal protective equipment must meet the requirements of subpart E - personal protective and life saving equipment. Note: The standard on criteria for personal protective equipment, paragraph (d), sets employer payment obligations for the personal protective equipment required by this subpart, including, but not limited to, the fall protection equipment required by paragraph (b) of this standard, and the electrical protective equipment required by the standard on working on or near exposed energized parts, paragraph (c), and the flame-resistant and arc-rated clothing and other protective equipment required by paragraph (g) of working on or near exposed energized parts. This standard also provides requirements for fall protection including personal fall arrest systems, work positioning equipment, and for the care and use of personal fall protection equipment. 

The standard on materials handling and storage requires you comply with the requirements of subpart N - helicopters, hoists, elevators and conveyors and subpart CC - cranes and derricks in construction. In addition, it provides requirements for materials storage near energized lines or equipment (i.e., restricted areas, unrestricted areas). 

The standard on grounding for the protection of employees applies to grounding of transmission and distribution lines and equipment for the purpose of protecting employees. It provides the requirements pertaining to proper grounding, when grounding is impractical (i.e., requires deenergization, no contact with another energized source, no induced voltage), equipotential zone, protective grounding equipment, testing, connecting and removing grounds, additional precautions, and removal of grounds for testing.  

It also provides requirements for special conditions related to capacitors, current transformer secondaries, series streetlighting, illumination, protection against drowning (i.e., flotation devices, crossing bodies of water), excavations, employee protection in public work areas (i.e., traffic control devices, barricades, warning lights, excavated areas), backfeed, lasers, hydraulic fluids, and communication facilities (i.e., microwave transmission, power-line carrier).

Do employees work in enclosed spaces? Do employees use portable ladders or platforms?  Do employees use hand and portable power equipment? Are employees using live-line tools? Do employees use mechanical equipment? Do employees work on underground electrical installations? Are employees working on or near exposed parts? Do employees deenergize lines or equipment? Are employees performing work on or near overhead lines and equipment? Are employees doing live-line barehand work? Do you have substations or do employees work in them? Do employees perform testing at test facilities? If you said yes to any of these questions, click on the appropriate tab below for more standards related to electric power transmission and distribution work. 

Additional related information can be found on the A-Z safety and health topics pages for personal protective equipment, cranes and derricks, stairways and ladders, confined spaces, electrical safety, and medical services and first aid. The NCDOL Library is available for assistance regarding access to consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, ASME, NFPA, IEEE). 

Subpart V - Electric Power Transmission and Distribution

Are employees working in enclosed spaces?

Are employees working in enclosed spaces?

If yes, then you need to comply with the standard on enclosed spaces. It covers enclosed spaces that may be entered by employees. This section applies to routine entry into enclosed spaces. If, after the employer takes the precautions given in this standard and in the standard on underground electrical installations, the hazards remaining in the enclosed space endanger the life of an entrant or could interfere with an entrant's escape from the space, then entry into the enclosed space must meet the permit space entry requirements of subpart AA - confined spaces in construction. For routine entries where the hazards remaining in the enclosed space do not endanger the life of an entrant or interfere with an entrant's escape from the space, this standard applies in lieu of the permit space entry requirements contained in permit-required confined space program, permitting process, entry permit, training, duties of authorized entrants, duties of attendants, duties of entry supervisors and rescue and emergency services. Note: This standard does not apply to vented vaults if the employer makes a determination that the ventilation system is operating to protect employees before they enter the space.

This standard provides the requirements pertaining to safe work practices, training, rescue equipment, evaluating potential hazards, removing covers, hazardous atmospheres, attendants, test instrument calibration, testing for oxygen deficiency, testing for flammable gases and vapors, ventilation and monitoring for flammable gases and vapors, ventilation requirements, air supply, and open flames.

Hazardous atmosphere - An atmosphere that may expose employees to the risk of death, incapacitation, impairment of ability to self-rescue (that is, escape unaided from an enclosed space), injury, or acute illness from one or more of the following causes:

  • Flammable gas, vapor, or mist in excess of 10 percent of its lower flammable limit (LFL).
  • Airborne combustible dust at a concentration that meets or exceeds its LFL. Note: This concentration may be approximated as a condition in which the dust obscures vision at a distance of 1.52 meters (5 feet) or less.
  • Atmospheric oxygen concentration below 19.5 percent or above 23.5 percent.
  • Atmospheric concentration of any substance for which a dose or a permissible exposure limit is published in subpart D - occupational health and environmental controls, or in subpart Z - toxic and hazardous substances, which could result in employee exposure in excess of its dose or permissible exposure limit. Note: An atmospheric concentration of any substance that is not capable of causing death, incapacitation, impairment of ability to self-rescue, injury, or acute illness due to its health effects is not covered by this provision.
  • Any other atmospheric condition that is immediately dangerous to life or health. Note: For air contaminants for which the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has not determined a dose or permissible exposure limit, other sources of information, such as Safety Data Sheets that comply with the hazard communication standard, published information, and internal documents can provide guidance in establishing acceptable atmospheric conditions.

Additional related information can be found on the A-Z safety and health topics pages for personal protective equipment, confined spaces, electrical safety, and medical services and first aid.

Are employees using portable ladders or platforms?

Are employees using portable ladders or platforms?

This is generally yes as most employees use ladders. If this is yes, then you need to comply with the standard on portable ladders and platforms. It states that the requirements for portable ladders contained in subpart X - stairways and ladders apply in addition to the requirements of this standard. This standard also provides that special ladders and platforms must meet requirements for design load, maximum load, for being secured in place, for use as intended, and use of conductive ladders. 

Additional related information can be found on the A-Z safety and health topics pages for stairways and ladders and electrical safety.

Are employees using hand and portable power equipment?

Are employees using hand and portable power equipment?

This should be yes as most employees use hand and portable power equipment. The standard on hand and portable power equipment has three main paragraphs. Paragraph (b) provides the requirements for electric equipment connected by cord and plug not covered by subpart K - electrical; paragraph (c) covers portable and vehicle-mounted generators used to supply cord- and plug-connected equipment (i.e., grounding, bonding); and paragraph (d) provides the requirements for hydraulic and pneumatic tools (i.e., hydraulic fluid, work near energized parts, protection against vacuum formation, protection against the accumulation of moisture, breaking connections, hoses, leaks). 

Additional related information can be found on the A-Z safety and health topics page for electrical safety.

Are employees using live-line tools?

Are employees using live-line tools?

If yes, then you need to comply with the standard on live-line tools. It provides requirements for the design of tools (i.e., fiberglass-reinforced plastic, wood) and condition of tools (i.e., inspections, testing, defects, references consensus standard).

Additional related information can be found on the A-Z safety and health topics page for electrical safety. The NCDOL Library is available for assistance regarding access to consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, ASME, NFPA, IEEE). 

Are employees using mechanical equipment?

Are employees using mechanical equipment?

If yes, then you need to comply with the standard on mechanical equipment. This standard requires that mechanical equipment be operated in accordance with subpart N - helicopters, hoists, elevators and conveyors, subpart O - motor vehicles, mechanized equipment and marine operations, and subpart CC - cranes and derricks in construction. It also provides requirements pertaining to inspections, operators of an electric line truck, outriggers, applied loads, and operations near energized lines or equipment. 

Additional related information can be found on the A-Z safety and health topics pages for cranes and derricks and electrical safety.

Are employees working on underground electrical installations?

Are employees working on underground electrical installations?

If yes, then you also need to comply with the standard on underground electrical installations. It provides requirements for accessing manholes and subsurface vaults, lowering equipment into manholes, using attendants for manholes and vaults (i.e., first aid training, brief entries) and entries without attendants. It also provides requirements pertaining to duct rods, multiple cables, moving cables, and protection against faults. 

Additional related information can be found on the A-Z safety and health topics pages for personal protective equipmentconfined spaces, electrical safety, and medical services and first aid.

Are employees working on or near exposed parts?

Are employees working on or near exposed parts?

If yes, then you need to comply with the standard on working on or near exposed energized parts as it applies to work on exposed live parts, or near enough to them to expose the employee to any hazard they present. It provides the requirements pertaining to qualified persons, treating electric lines and equipment as energized, when two employees are required, live work (i.e., minimum approach distances, type of insulation), working position (i.e., working from below, working without electrical protective equipment), making connections, conductive articles, protection from flames and electric arcs (i.e., hazard assessment, prohibited clothing, flame-resistant clothing, arc rating), fuse handling, covered (noninsulated) conductors, non-current-carrying metal parts, and opening and closing circuits under load.  

Qualified employee (qualified person) is an employee (person) knowledgeable in the construction and operation of the electric power generation, transmission, and distribution equipment involved, along with the associated hazards.

Additional related information can be found on the A-Z safety and health topics pages for personal protective equipment and electrical safety.

Do employees deengerize lines or equipment?

Do employees deengerize lines or equipment?

If yes, then you need to comply with the standard on deenergizing lines and equipment for employee protection as it applies to the deenergizing of transmission and distribution lines and equipment for the purpose of protecting employees. It provides general requirements (i.e., system operators - person in charge, no system operator, single crews, multiple crews, disconnecting means accessible to general public) and deenergizing lines and equipment (i.e., request to deenergize, open disconnecting means, switches, network protectors, tags, test for energized condition, grounds, clearances, reenergizing lines).  

Additional related information can be found on the A-Z safety and health topics pages for personal protective equipment and electrical safety.

Are employees performing work on or near overhead lines and equipment?

Are employees performing work on or near overhead lines and equipment?

If yes, then you need to comply with the standard on overhead lines and live-line barehand work as it provides additional requirements for work performed on or near overhead lines and equipment and for live-line barehand work. Paragraph (b) provides the requirements pertaining to checking structure before climbing, setting and moving poles, and installing and removing overhead lines (i.e., load ratings, communications, safe operating condition). 

Additional related information can be found on the A-Z safety and health topics pages for personal protective equipment and electrical safety.

Are employees doing live-line barehand work?

Are employees doing live-line barehand work?

If yes, then you need to comply with the standard on overhead lines and live-line barehand work as it provides additional requirements for work performed on or near overhead lines and equipment and for live-line barehand work.  

Paragraph (c) provides the requirements for live-line barehand work. It includes requirements for training (reference the standard on general, paragraph (b)), and requirements pertaining to insulated tools and equipment, existing conditions, disabling automatic-reclosing feature, adverse weather conditions, bucket liners and electrostatic shielding, bonding the employee, controls, body of aerial lift trucks, boom-current tests, minimum approach distances, handlines, passing objects, nonconductive measuring devices, towers and structures, tag lines, load lines, and adverse weather conditions. 

Minimum approach distance - The closest distance an employee may approach an energized or a grounded object.

Additional related information can be found on the A-Z safety and health topics pages for personal protective equipment and electrical safety.

Do you have substations or do employees work in them?

Do you have substations or do employees work in them?

If yes, then you need to comply with the standard on substations as it provides additional requirements for substations and for work performed in them. It includes requirements pertaining to access and working space, draw-out-type circuit breakers, substation fences, guarding of rooms and other spaces containing electric supply equipment (i.e., warning signs, preventing access, restricted entry, entrances), guarding of energized parts (i.e., types of guarding, maintaining guards, removal of guards), and substation entry (i.e., report upon entering, job briefing). It also references consensus standards. 

Additional related information can be found on the A-Z safety and health topics page for electrical safety. The NCDOL Library is available for assistance regarding access to consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, ASME, NFPA, IEEE). 

Do employees perform testing at test facilities?

Do employees perform testing at test facilities?

If yes, then you need to comply with the standard on testing and test facilities. This standard provides requirements pertaining to safe work practices for high-voltage and high-power testing performed in laboratories, shops, and substations, and in the field and on electric transmission and distribution lines and equipment. It applies only to testing involving interim measurements using high voltage, high power, or combinations of high voltage and high power, and not to testing involving continuous measurements as in routine metering, relaying, and normal line work.

OSHA considers routine inspection and maintenance measurements made by qualified employees to be routine line work not included in the scope of this section, provided that the hazards related to the use of intrinsic high voltage or high-power sources require only the normal precautions associated with routine work specified in the other paragraphs of this subpart. Two typical examples of such excluded test work procedures are "phasing-out" testing and testing for a "no-voltage" condition.

Qualified employee (qualified person) is an employee (person) knowledgeable in the construction and operation of the electric power generation, transmission, and distribution equipment involved, along with the associated hazards.

Additional related information can be found on the A-Z safety and health topics pages for personal protective equipment and electrical safety.