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Subchapter 5. Electrical Safety Orders
Group 1. Low-Voltage Electrical Safety Orders
Article 4. Requirements for Electrical Installations

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§2340.16. Work Space About Electric Equipment.

(a) Space about electric equipment.

Sufficient access and working space shall be provided and maintained about all electric equipment to permit ready and safe operation and maintenance of such equipment.

(b) Work Space. Working space for equipment likely to require examination, adjustment, servicing, or maintenance while energized shall comply with the following dimensions, except as required or permitted elsewhere in these Orders.

(1) Depth. The depth of the working space in the direction of access to live parts shall not be less than indicated in Table 2340.16 unless permitted elsewhere in these orders.

Distances shall be measured from the live parts if they are exposed or from the enclosure front or opening if they are enclosed.

(2) Width. In addition to the dimensions of depth shown in Table 2340.16, the width of the workspace in front of the electric equipment shall not be less than the width of the equipment or 30 inches, whichever is greater.

In all cases, the workspace shall be adequate to permit at least a 90 degree opening of equipment doors or hinged panels.

(3) Height. The work space shall be clear and extend from the grade, floor, or platform to the height required by subsection (f) of this section. However, other equipment associated with the electrical installation and located above or below the electric equipment may extend not more than 6 in. (153 mm) beyond the front of the electric equipment.

Table 2340.16. Minimum Depth of Clear Working Space at Electrical Equipment, 600 V or Less

 Nominal Voltage to Ground    Minimum Clear Distance (Feet) 
 Condition 1    Condition 2    Condition 3  
 Feet   Meters   Feet   Meters   Feet   Meters 
 0-150    3*   0.9   3*   0.9   3    0.9 
 151-600    3*   0.9   3.5    1.0   4    1.2 

Notes to Table 2340.16:

Where the “Conditions” are as follows:

Condition 1 - Exposed live parts on one side and no live or grounded parts on the other side of the working space, or exposed live parts on both sides effectively guarded by suitable wood or other insulating materials. Insulated wire or insulated busbars operating at 300 volts or less shall not be considered live parts.

Condition 2 - Exposed live parts on one side and grounded parts on the other side. Concrete, brick, or tile surfaces shall be considered as grounded surfaces.

Condition 3 - Exposed live parts on both sides of the work space (not guarded as provided in Condition (1)) with the operator between.


*1. Minimum clear distances may be 2.5 ft. (0.7 m) for installations built before April 16, 1981.

2. Working space is not required in back of assemblies such as dead-front switchboards or motor control centers where there are no renewable or adjustable parts (such as fuses or switches) on the back and where all connections are accessible from locations other than the back.

3. Where rear access is required to work on deenergized parts on the back of enclosed equipment, a minimum working space of 30 in. (762 mm) horizontally shall be provided.

(c) Clear Spaces. Working space required by this section shall not be used for storage. When normally enclosed live parts are exposed for inspection or servicing, the working space, if in a passageway or general open space, shall be suitably guarded.

(d) Entrance and Access to Workspace. At least one entrance of sufficient area shall be provided to give access to the working space about electric equipment.

(1) For equipment rated 1,200 amperes or more and over 6 feet (1.83 m) wide, containing overcurrent devices, switching devices, or control devices, there shall be one entrance not less than 24 inches (610 mm) wide and 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m) high at each end of the workspace, except that:

(A) Where the location permits a continuous and unobstructed way of exit travel, one means of exit is permitted; or

(B) Where the working space required by subsection (b) of this section is doubled, only one entrance to the working space is required; however, the entrance shall be located so that the edge of the entrance nearest the equipment is the minimum clear distance given in Table 2340.16 away from such equipment.

(2) Attics, furred ceilings and underfloor spaces shall have minimum unobstructed access openings of 22 inches by 30 inches.

(e) Illumination. Portable or fixed illumination, suitable for the nature of the work being performed, shall be provided when working on electrical equipment. The light fixtures and their control points shall be so arranged that persons operating light switches, replacing lamps or making repairs on the lighting system will not be endangered by energized parts of other equipment.

Exception: Additional lighting fixtures are not required where the working space is illuminated by an adjacent light source. In electric equipment rooms, the illumination may not be controlled by automatic means only.

(f) Headroom. The minimum headroom of working space about service equipment, switchboards, panelboards and motor control centers, which require manual operation or where there are energized parts exposed at any time, shall be as follows:

(1) For installations built before May 5, 2008 6 feet 3 inches (1.91 m).

(2) For installations built on or after May 5, 2008 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m), except that where the electrical equipment exceeds 6.5 feet (1.98 m) in height, the minimum headroom may not be less than the height of the equipment.

(g) For installations built on or after May 5, 2008, switchboards, panelboards, and distribution boards installed for the control of light and power circuits, and motor control centers shall be located in dedicated spaces and protected from damage.

(1) Indoor. For indoor installation, the dedicated space shall comply with the following:

(A) The space equal to the width and depth of the equipment and extending from the floor to a height of 6.0 feet (1.83 m) above the equipment or to the structural ceiling, whichever is lower, shall be dedicated to the electrical installation. Unless isolated from equipment by height or physical enclosures or covers that will afford adequate mechanical protection from vehicular traffic or accidental contact by unauthorized personnel or that complies with subsection (g)(1)(B) of this section, piping, ducts, or equipment foreign to the electrical installation shall not be located in this area;

(B) The space equal to the width and depth of the equipment shall be kept clear of foreign systems unless protection is provided to avoid damage from condensation, leaks, or breaks in such foreign systems. This area shall extend from the top of the electric equipment to the structural ceiling;

(C) Sprinkler protection is permitted for the dedicated space where the piping complies with this section; and

(D) Control equipment that by its very nature or because of other requirements in these Orders must be adjacent to or within sight of its operating machinery is permitted in the dedicated space.

NOTE to subsection (g)(1): A dropped, suspended, or similar ceiling that does not add strength to the building structure shall not be considered a structural ceiling.

(2) Outdoor. Outdoor electric equipment shall be installed in suitable enclosures and shall be protected from accidental contact by unauthorized personnel, or by vehicular traffic, or by accidental spillage or leakage from piping systems. No architectural appurtenance or other equipment may be located in the working space required by subsection (b) of this section.

Note: Authority cited: Section 142.3, Labor Code. Reference: Section 142.3, Labor Code.


1. Repealer and new section filed 3-23-79; effective thirtieth day thereafter (Register 79, No. 12). For history of former section, see Register 75, No. 42.

2. Amendment of Table 2340.16 and Plate 2340.16(a)(1) filed 2-1-83; effective thirtieth day thereafter (Register 83, No. 6).

3. Editorial correction filed 11-2-83 (Register 83, No. 45).

4. Editorial correction of Table 2340.16 filed 11-3-83 (Register 83, No. 45).

5. Amendment of Table 2340.16, subsections (c)-(f) and Plate 2340.16(a)(2) filed 8-27-86; effective thirtieth day thereafter (Register 86, No. 37).

6. Amendment of section, repealer of Plate 2340.16(a)(2), and amendment of Note filed 5-5-2008; operative 5-5-2008. Submitted to OAL for printing only pursuant to Labor Code 142.3(a)(3) (Register 2008, No. 19).

7. Amendment of subsection (b)(2), repealer of subsections (b)(2)(A)-(B) and amendment of subsection (b)(3) filed 4-6-2010; operative 5-6-2010 (Register 2010, No. 15).

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