How Close is Too Close to Energized Circuits? OSHA Seeks Comments

OSHA announced in Wednesday's Federal Register that it is reopening the record on a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on electric power generation, transmission and distribution work and for electrical protective equipment. This limited reopening seeks to obtain comments related to how close an employee (or a conductive object that an employee is contacting) may get to an energized circuit part.

"We want to use the most accurate data available to ensure that employees are maintaining safe distances from dangerous electrical sources," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke, Jr. "Extending this rulemaking process will provide us with the information we need to provide the best possible protection for working men and women on the job."

On June 15, 2005, OSHA published a proposed rule to revise the general industry and construction standards for electric power generation, transmission, and distribution work and for electrical protective equipment. This proposal included revised minimum approach distances (MADs), including MAD tables that can be used to determine how close an employee or a conductive object, which he or she is contacting, can get to an energized part. After the rulemaking record on the proposal closed, the technical committee responsible for developing the tables in the consensus standards on which the proposal was based discovered an error in their calculation of MADs for certain voltages. OSHA is reopening the record on this proposal only to obtain comments related to the affected minimum approach distances.

The agency will accept public comments on the proposed rule about the affected minimum approach distances until Nov. 21, 2008. Interested parties may submit comments electronically at www.regulations.gov, the Federal eRulemaking Portal; by sending two copies to the OSHA Docket Office, U.S. Department of Labor, Room N-2625, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room N-2625, Washington, D.C., 20210; or by FAX at 202-693-1648 if the comments and attachments do not exceed 10 pages. Comments must include the Agency name and Docket Number (Docket No. OSHA-S215-2006-0063) for this rulemaking.

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