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Working with electricity can be dangerous. Engineers, electricians, and other professionals work with electricity directly, including working on overhead lines, cable harnesses, and circuit assemblies. Others, such as office workers and sales people, work with electricity indirectly and may also be exposed to electrical hazards.
Electricity has long been recognized as a serious workplace hazard. OSHA‘s electrical standards are designed to protect employees exposed to dangers such as electric shock, electrocution, fires, and explosions. Electrical hazards are addressed in specific standards for the general industry, shipyard employment, and marine terminals.
This section highlights OSHA standards, the Regulatory Agenda (a list of actions being taken with regard to OSHA standards), Federal Registers (rules, proposed rules, and notices), directives (instructions for compliance officers), standard interpretations (official letters of interpretation of the standards), and national consensus standards related to electrical hazards.
Note: Twenty-five states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans and have adopted their own standards and enforcement policies. For the most part, these States adopt standards that are identical to Federal OSHA. However, some States have adopted different standards applicable to this topic or may have different enforcement policies.
- 1910 Subpart I, Personal protective equipment [related topic page]
- 1910.137, Electrical protective devices
- 1910 Subpart R, Special industries
- 1910 Subpart S, Electrical
- 1910.302, Electric utilization systems
- 1910.303, General requirements
- 1910.304, Wiring design and protection
- 1910.305, Wiring methods, components, and equipment for general use
- 1910.306, Specific purpose equipment and installations
- 1910.307, Hazardous (classified) locations
- 1910.308, Special systems
- 1910.331, Scope
- 1910.332, Training
- 1910.333, Selection and use of work practices
- 1910.334, Use of equipment
- 1910.335, Safeguards for personnel protection
Marine Terminals (29 CFR 1917)
- The OSHA Regulatory Agenda contains an entry related to electrical standards.
- Electrical Standard; Final Rule. Final Rules 72:7135-7221, (2007, February 14). Focuses on safety in the design and installation of electric equipment in the workplace. This revision provides the first update of the installation requirements in the general industry electrical installation standard since 1981.
- Electrical Standard; Proposed Rule. Proposed Rules 69:17773-17842, (2004, April 5). OSHA proposes to revise the general industry electrical installation standard found in 29 CFR 1910, Subpart S.
- Search all available Federal Registers.
- Enforcement of the Electrical Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution Standard. CPL 02-01-038 [CPL 2-1.38], (2003, June 18). Provides information to assist compliance personnel in performing inspections in electric power generation, transmission, and installations, including that of distribution lines and other equipment.
- OSHA Technical Manual (OTM). TED 01-00-015 [TED 1-0.15A], (1999, January 20). Assists OSHA Compliance Safety and Health Officers (CSHOs) in hazard recognition and provides guidance in accident prevention. Serves as a source of advice for CSHOs on safety and health issues.
- Inspection Guidelines for 29 CFR 1910. Subpart I, the revised Personal Protective Equipment Standards for General Industry. STD 01-06-006 [STD 1-6.6], (1995, June 16). Provides inspection assistance which addresses the revised personal protective equipment (PPE) standards, (29 CFR 1910, Subpart I), to assist OSHA Compliance Safety and Health Officers (CSHOs) performing inspections in general industry.
- Electrical Safety-Related Work Practices — Inspection Procedures and Interpretation Guidelines. STD 01-16-007 [STD 1-16.7], (1991, July 1). Establishes policies and provides interpretive guidelines to ensure uniform enforcement of the standard for electrical safety-related work practices, 29 CFR 1910.331 through 1910.335.
- Search all available directives.
- Training requirements for employees who perform non-electrical work on electrical equipment. (2002, May 17).
- Qualifications for resetting circuits or replacing fuses; electrical enclosures must be approved. (2001, November 19).
- Search all available standard interpretations.
Note: These are NOT OSHA regulations. However, they do provide guidance from their originating organizations related to worker protection.
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
- 70, National Electric Code, (2008).
For information related to construction, see OSHA’s Electrical – Construction page.
Many workers are unaware of the potential electrical hazards present in their work environment, which makes them more vulnerable to the danger of electrocution. The following references aid in recognizing hazards associated with electrical work.
- Working Safely with Electricity [353 KB PDF*, 2 pages]. OSHA Fact Sheet. Provides safety information on working with generators, power lines, extension cords, and electrical equipment.
- Using Portable Generators Safely [22 KB PDF*, 2 pages]. OSHA Fact Sheet. Provides safety information on the hazards associated with generators, shock and electrocution, carbon monoxide poisoning, fire hazards, and noise and vibration hazards.
- Portable Generator Safety [19 KB PDF*, 1 page]. OSHA Quick Card. A 19 KB PDF* (Spanish version) is also available. Includes information on the major causes of injuries and fatalities, safe work practices, and carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Electrical Safety Hazards of Overloading Cable Trays. OSHA Fact Sheet, (2006, March). Also available as a 22 KB PDF, 2 pages.
- Small Business Handbook. OSHA Publication 2209-02R, (2005). Also available as a 260 KB PDF, 56 pages.
- Electrical Safety. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Safety and Health Topic. Provides links to information about electrical safety and electrocutions.
- Electrical Safety: Safety and Health for Electrical Trades Student Manual. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2002-123, (2002, January). Also available as a 2 MB PDF, 80 pages. As part of a safety and health curriculum for secondary and post-secondary electrical trades courses, this manual is designed to engage the learner in recognizing, evaluating, and controlling hazards associated with electrical work.
- Fire Fighters Exposed to Electrical Hazards During Wildland Fire Operations. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2002-112, (2002, January). Also available as a 137 KB PDF, 4 pages. Covers two case studies regarding the electrocution of fire-fighters and recommends preventive methods.
- Electrocutions Fatality Investigation Reports. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Safety and Health Topic. Provides information regarding hundreds of fatal incidents involving electrocutions investigated by NIOSH and state investigators.
- Worker Deaths by Electrocution: A Summary of Surveillance Findings and Investigative Case Reports. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 98-131, (1998, May). Also available as a 137 KB PDF, 43 pages. Highlights the magnitude of the problem of occupational electrocutions in the US, identifies potential risk factors for fatal injury, and provides recommendations for developing effective safety programs to reduce the risk of electrocution.
- Australian Government documents relating to electrical safety in Australia:
A variety of possible solutions may be implemented to reduce or eliminate the risk of injury associated with electrical work. Examples of solutions include the use of insulation, guarding, grounding, electrical protective devices, and safe work practices. The following references aid in controlling electrical hazards in the workplace.
- Controlling Electrical Hazards. OSHA Publication 3075, (2002). Also available as a 350 KB PDF, 66 pages. Provides a basic overview of electrical safety on the job, including information on how electricity works, how to protect against electricity, and how OSHA can help.
- Lockout-Tagout Interactive Training Program. OSHA. Provides an interactive decision making tool designed to expand the user’s knowledge of lockout/tagout.
- Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout). OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page. Provides links to information that may involve electrical hazards in the workplace.
- Ergonomic Survival Guide for Electricians. Cal/OSHA Consultation Service. Also available as a 850 KB PDF, 5 pages and as a 763 KB PDF (Spanish version). Promotes awareness of safe work practices for electricians.
- Electrical Safety: Safety and Health for Electrical Trades Student Manual. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2009-113, (2009, March). Also available as a 2 MB PDF, 92 pages. As part of a safety and health curriculum for secondary and post-secondary electrical trades courses, this manual is designed to engage the learner in recognizing, evaluating, and controlling hazards associated with electrical work.
- Section 8: Safety Model Stage 3-Controlling Hazards: Safe Work Practices. Outlines basic safety planning, avoiding wet working conditions, avoiding overhead powerlines, using proper wiring and connectors, using and maintaining tools properly and wearing correct PPE to control electrical hazards.
- NIOSH Publications – Alerts. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Presents information about occupational illnesses, injuries, and deaths. Requests assistance in preventing, solving, and controlling newly identified occupational hazards. The following alerts are associated with electrical injuries:
- Preventing Worker Deaths from Uncontrolled Release of Electrical, Mechanical, and Other Types of Hazardous Energy. Publication No. 99-110, (1999, August).
- Preventing Deaths and Injuries of Adolescent Workers. Publication No. 95-125, (1995, May). Summarizes available information about work-related injuries among adolescents, identifies work that is especially hazardous, and offers recommendations for prevention.
- Preventing Falls and Electrocutions During Tree Trimming. Publication No. 92-106, (1992, August). Describes eight incidents involving five electrocutions and three fatal falls of tree trimmers.
- Preventing Electrocutions by Undetected Feedback Electrical Energy Present in Power Lines. Publication No. 88-104, (1987, December).
- Preventing Fatalities of Workers Who Contact Electrical Energy. Publication No. 87-103, (1986, December). Explains that prompt emergency medical care can be lifesaving for workers who have contacted either low voltage or high voltage electric energy. Immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) followed by advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) has been shown to save lives.
- Preventing Electrocutions Due to Damaged Receptacles and Connectors. Publication No. 87-100, (1986, October).
- Preventing Grain Auger Electrocutions. Publication No. 86-119, (1986, July). Explains that moving grain augers in their elevated position may result in electrocution if they contact overhead power lines while being moved.
- Preventing Electrocutions of Workers in Fast Food Restaurants. Publication No. 85-104, (1984, December). Describes an electrocution death and gives solutions to avoid similar situations.
Related Safety and Health Topics Pages
- Small Business Handbook. OSHA Publication 2209-02R, (2005). Also available as a 260 KB PDF, 56 pages.
- Electrical [4 MB ZIP*]. OSHA, (2001, November 16). Assists trainers conducting OSHA’s 10-hour general industry outreach training for workers. Since workers are the target audience, the material emphasizes hazard identification, avoidance, and control—not standards.
- OSHA Training Institute Course Catalog Search. OSHA. Searches training and education courses in occupational safety and health for federal and state compliance officers, state consultants, other federal agency personnel, and the private sector.
- Training. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
- Electric Power Generation
- Eye and Face Protection
- Machine Guarding
- Noise and Hearing Conservation
- Respiratory Protection
- Safety and Health Management Systems
OSHA eTools en Español
- eTool de Construcción – La Prevención De Fatalidades (Construction)
OSHA Expert System Advisors
- Confined Space
Downloadable | Online
- Electronic Permit Required Confined Spaces (e-PRCS)
- Electronic Health and Safety Program (eHASP)2
- Hazard Awareness
- Lead in Construction
- $afety Pays
- For a complete list, see the OSHA eTools and Electronic Products for Compliance Assistance Page.
- IEC Safety. Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC).
- ADSC: International Association of Foundation Drilling. OSHA Alliance Page. Focuses on providing the association’s members and others in the foundation drilling industry, including small businesses and non-English or limited English speaking employees, with information, guidance, and access to training resources to help them protect employees’ health and safety.
- Drilled Shaft Installation Safety Tips For the Employer and Employee [62 KB PDF, 2 pages]. Describes general safety tips to help prevent injuries and illnesses in the drilled shaft foundation industry.
- Working Safely During Installation of Drilled Shaft Foundations [40 KB PDF, 2 pages]. Identifies hazards associated with the installation of drilled shaft foundations and safe work practices to help reduce or eliminate the risk of injuries or illnesses.