Working in an environment that is safe and healthy is not a privilege but a right of every worker regardless of industry. To ensure this, there are multiple agencies, authorities, and governing bodies throughout the world that enforce worker health and safety laws and regulations. One such organization which we are going to talk about today is OSHA.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is an agency of the United States, Under the Department of Labor, and was created by Congress in 1971. OSHA’s job is to protect workers and their health at work. In 1971, after the deaths of 14000+ workers on the job, OSH Act was enforced to provide a secure and healthy working environment by the enforcement of laws and standards and by the provision of training, education, and support.
The OSH Act states:
“To assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women; by authorizing enforcement of the standards developed under the Act; by assisting and encouraging the States in their efforts to assure safe and healthful working conditions; by providing for research, information, education, and training in the field of occupational safety and health.”
The main task for OSHA is to avoid and prevent recognized hazards that might cause injuries, diseases, and deaths related to a working environment. OSHA aims to give opportunities to employers, government agencies, professional groups, medical and educational organizations to collaborate with OSHA to avoid recognized hazards.
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Types of Sub
There are certain safety practices and training requirements by OSHA which are called OSHA Standards. These standards are organized into five major categories:
- General Industry
- Federal Employee Programs
All these categories have regulations that are referenced in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), which is the codification of rules and regulations published in the Federal Register by the executive departments of the federal government of the United States. Title 29 of the CFR, which includes all the OSHA standards and regulations, is reserved for the U.S Department of Labor.
The regulations in the CFR by category type are as follows:
OSHA STANDARD FOR ELECTRICAL SAFETY:
Regulations for electrical safety can be found in different standards:
General Industry Standards
Personal Protective Equipment:
OSHA makes sure that workers are physically protected by enforcing the usage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE for short). This is to reduce the chances of damage or harm to occur to any person working in a hazardous situation where the hazard cannot be predicted, mitigated, or is ever-present. Employees must be trained on how to use the PPE. They should be told why the use of PPE is necessary before they start the job for which it has been provided.
There are 4 different categories of personal protective equipment required in case of an arc flash hazard. Read about it in our blog An Overview of 4 Different Arc Flash PPE Categories.
Where PPE is provided, it must be used as instructed. Employers should make sure that the PPE they purchase complies with the relevant OSHA standards. PPE must be stored in a clean and working condition and should be easy to find in need. It must be inspected regularly to make sure it is in good working order and defective or damaged PPE must be reported at once. It must be tagged (to prevent its use until it has been repaired) or thrown away and replaced.
Personal protective equipment can include a lot of gear, the most common of which are:
- overalls and protective aprons
- protection headgear — safety helmets, wide-brimmed hats to protect against the sun
- safety boots or shoes
- safety glasses or goggles
- respirators and masks
- earmuffs and earpieces
OSHA also has “Quick Cards” which can act as general guidance for any situation for example:
Burns, shocks, and electrocution are all results of Electrical hazards.
- Overhead powerlines must be assumed to be energized to lethal voltages. Downed lines, even if insulated, must never be touched.
- Fallen lines must be reported to the electric utility company.
- Stay at least 10 feet (3 meters) away from overhead wires during clean-up and other activities. In presence of overhead lines, the work area must first be surveyed to stay clear of the lines while performing work.
- In case an overhead line falls on your vehicle while you are inside, stay inside the vehicle and continue to drive away from the line. If the vehicle stalls do not leave it and warn people not to touch either the vehicle or the downed line. Contact the local electric utility company or emergency services.
- Employees must wear PPE for the face or eyes wherever there is a danger of injury to the face or eyes from electric arcs or flashes or from flying objects resulting from a short circuit or electrical explosion
- Electrical equipment must never be operated while standing in water.
- Ask a qualified electrician to inspect electrical equipment that has gotten wet before using it.
- When working in a location that is damp, electric cords and equipment must be inspected to ensure they are in good condition and free of defects.
- Always use caution when working near electricity.
NFPA STANDARD FOR ELECTRICAL SAFETY IN THE WORKPLACE
Other standards and regulation governing bodies also provide guidance related to worker protection, such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) which has a detailed Electrical code for Electrical safety.
There are about 300 codes and standards published by NFPA to lower the chances of fire hazards and their effects.
NFPA code 70E aims to provide employers the help to avoid workplace injuries and fatalities due to arc flash, shock, electrocution and helps them to comply with OSHA 1910 Subpart S and OSHA 1926 Subpart K
NFPA 70E suggests safe work practices for workers exposed to electrical hazards as well as provides safe work practices for the following scenarios:
- When installing conductors or equipment that connect to the electric supply
- Installations used by the electric utility that is not a part of a generating plant, substation, or control center
Conducting regular meetings is a basic and strongly encouraged requirement to discuss health and security issues related to the workplace but is not necessary for small businesses. Workplace inspection should be carried out to find possible risks and all training and accidents must be documented. Employees must follow guidelines and standards set by OSHA and must use protective equipment, report injuries, and hazardous circumstances, and take care of their own health and of those around them.
Companies and industries also need to be careful about violating any OSHA regulations. Doing so can inflict heavy fines and penalties upon the company. Check out our blog on OSHA violations.
There are state-level OSHA requirements that allow states to develop programs to suit them better than federal requirements. About 24 states and 2 territories of the US have their own safety programs but are in many ways similar to the federal programs.
INJURIES AND ACCIDENTS:
In workplaces, most of these injuries include:
- slips, trips, and falls
- muscle strains
- hit by falling objects
- repetitive strain injury
- crashes and collisions
- cuts and lacerations
- inhaling toxic fumes
- exposure to loud noise
- getting stuck in or struck by moving machinery
- transportation and vehicle-related accidents
- overexertion and repetitive stress injuries
Unsafe working conditions increase the chances of accidents.
OSHA SAFETY MEASURES TO PROTECT WORKERS:
- Employer responsibilities: Employers have the responsibility to provide a safe workplace. Employers must make sure that the workplace they are providing does not have to pose any threats to the safety or health of their employees and must conform with OSHA standards. In case any health or safety hazards are found during a routine inspection, employers must eliminate them according to OSHA standards. Using chemicals that are safer, harmful fume extraction, or using ventilation systems to clean the air are some ways of ways to get rid of or minimize risks.
- Duties of employees
- Employee involvement in safety planning
- Employee feedback
- Give clear working instructions
- Positive reinforcement
- Machine maintenance
- Safety meetings
- Cleanliness at the workplace
- Preemptive measure
- Safety guidelines review
To read the details of each category click on “Osha Electrical Safety Standards”.
We hope this article proves to be helpful for our readers. Please feel free to give your valuable suggestions in the comments below. Thank you.
AllumiaX, LLC is one of the leading providers of Power System Studies in the northwest. Our matchless services and expertise focus on providing adequate analysis on Arc Flash, Transient Stability, Load Flow, Snubber Circuit, Short Circuit, Coordination, Ground Grid, and Power Quality.
About The Author
Abdur Rehman is a professional electrical engineer with more than eight years of experience working with equipment from 208V to 115kV in both the Utility and Industrial & Commercial space. He has a particular focus on Power Systems Protection & Engineering Studies.
Abdur Rehman is the CEO and co-founder of allumiax.com and creator of GeneralPAC by AllumiaX. He has been actively involved in various roles in the IEEE Seattle Section, IEEE PES Seattle, IEEE Region 6, and IEEE MGA.