INITIAL STATEMENT OF REASONS

CALIFORNIA CODE OF REGULATIONS
TITLE 8: LOW VOLTAGE ELECTRICAL SAFETY ORDERS
Chapter 4, Subchapter 5, Article 3, Section 2320.8
HIGH VOLTAGE ELECTRICAL SAFETY ORDERS
Chapter 4, Subchapter 5, Article 36, Section 2940.6

Fall Protection and Apparel for Electrical Workers


PROBLEM ADDRESSED BY PROPOSED ACTION

On August 21, 1997, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) filed with the U. S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a Complaint Against State Program Administration (CASPA 98/C-05). The CASPA identified two issues involving the safety of electrical workers: 1. The wearing of apparel which will not exacerbate employee injuries resulting from exposure to flame and/or electric arc, and 2. The use of specific types of personal fall protection systems (e.g. fall arrest systems, positioning device systems, etc.) at working elevations above 4 feet and the prohibition of body belts as a fall arrest system component.

Existing Title 8, Electrical Safety Orders do not specifically address apparel and exposure to flames and electric arcs, a fall protection trigger height, or prohibit the use of a body belt as part of a fall arrest system. The General Industry Safety Orders contain some generic, performance-based language addressing personal safety devices and safeguards, but do not specifically prohibit the wearing of apparel, which if exposed to flame and electric arc, would increase the extent of employee injury to the skin.

On September 30, 1998, the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Federal OSHA), Region IX, identified the two areas of concern indicated above and concluded that the CASPA filed by the IBEW was valid and that the California standards submitted as the equivalent standards to OSHA’s power generation, transmission and distribution standards, do not provide equivalent protection.

In response to the CASPA, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Division) convened a meeting in San Francisco, California on October 21, 1998 to discuss the fall protection and apparel issues raised by CASPA 98/C-05. The Chief of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health chaired the meeting. In attendance at the meeting were representatives from the IBEW, Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, the Division, the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (Board), and Federal OSHA - Region IX.

As a result of the discussion between the various parties, there was general agreement that the best approach to the problem was to amend the Low and High Voltage Electrical Safety Orders to address the federal language contained in 29 CFR 1910.269 with regard to fall protection and apparel.

In a letter dated November 6, 1998, the Director of Industrial Relations to Region IX essentially stated that the Board would consider the findings of the parties who attended the October 21, 1998 meeting and develop a rulemaking proposal to address the fall protection and apparel issues. The letter also stated that the rulemaking action would be initiated during the first quarter of 1999 and that the Board would provide Region IX with a progress report.

In fulfillment of the Director’s commitment to address the two CASPA issues, Board staff has undertaken this rulemaking and proposes to amend both the LVESO and the HVESO to include language based on federal language addressing the use of fall protection for electrical workers at elevations above 4 feet when no other means of fall protection is provided, and a prohibition on the use of body belts as part of a fall arrest system in the LVESO. Amendment to the HVESO is proposed to address the wearing of apparel which will prohibit the wearing of clothing that might increase the severity of burns when exposed to flames or electric arcs and fall protection as described above.

Board staff believes the proposed revisions will render the state’s regulations at least as effective as the federal counterpart language contained in 29 CFR 1910.269. Board staff notes that 29 CFR 1910.269 addresses high voltage applications, therefore, the LVESO is not proposed for amendment with regard to the apparel issue. Federal OSHA addresses low voltage situations and the use of personal protective equipment in 29 CFR 1910.355(a)(1) using performance-based language. California already addresses this issue in the General Industry Safety Orders and the LVESO with regard to suitable clothing, safety devices, and safeguards. Therefore, Board staff believes it is not necessary to address apparel in the LVESO.

During a January 25, 1999 telephone conversation with a Federal OSHA representative, Board staff explained the proposed amendments to the Electrical Safety Orders. The representative stated that he was familiar with CASPA 98/C-05 and agreed with Board staff that only the HVESO needed to be amended to address the apparel issue.

SPECIFIC PURPOSE AND FACTUAL BASIS OF PROPOSED ACTION

Section 2320.8. Energized Overhead Conductors.

This section contains no regulatory information and consists of only a placeholder title.

A new section entitled "Fall Protection" is proposed to replace the placeholder title indicated above and includes language which would require employers to provide employees working at elevations greater than 4 feet on poles, towers or similar structures with personal fall protection devices (e.g. positioning devices, travel restricting devices, etc.) when other means of fall protection are not provided (e.g. safety nets, barricades, parapets, guard rails. etc.). The proposed language also prohibits the use of body belts as a component in a fall arrest system. In addition, proposed subsection (a) includes an exception from the fall protection requirement for qualified persons provided there are no conditions which would prevent the employee from gaining the necessary foot and hand holds to climb the structure safely.

The proposed revisions are necessary to ensure that employees are protected from a fall from a pole, tower or other structure which could result in serious employee injury. The proposed revisions are also necessary to prevent an employee from severe back injury as a result of fall arrest forces being concentrated around the waist resulting from the wearing of a body belt instead of a full body harness. An exception for point to point travel is necessary to allow trained employees to move freely about the structure when a firm grasp and foothold can be achieved.

Section 2940.6. Tools and Protective Equipment.

Existing subsection (b) is entitled "Personal Climbing Equipment" and requires employers to require the use of body belts with straps or lanyards by employees working at elevated locations on poles, towers, or other structures except where other safeguards are used to protect employees.

Revisions are proposed to delete the title of existing subsection (b) for replacement by a new title to read "Fall Protection" which would require employers to provide employees working at elevations greater than 4 feet on poles, towers or similar structures with personal fall protection devices (e.g. positioning devices, travel restricting devices, etc.) when other means of fall protection are not provided (e.g. safety nets, barricades, parapets, guard rails, etc.). The proposed language would also prohibit the use of body belts as a component in a fall arrest system. In addition, proposed subsection (b) includes an exception from the fall protection requirement for qualified persons provided there are no conditions which would prevent the employee from gaining the necessary foot and hand holds to climb the structure safely.

The proposed revisions are necessary to ensure that employees are protected from a fall from a pole, tower or other structure that could result in serious employee injury. The proposed revisions are also necessary to prevent an employee from severe back injury as a result of fall arrest forces being concentrated around the waist resulting from the wearing of a body belt instead of a full body harness. An exception for point to point travel is necessary to allow trained employees to move freely about the structure when a firm grasp and foot hold can be achieved.

A new subsection (j) is proposed entitled "Apparel" which would require employers to ensure each electrical worker who may be exposed to the hazard of flames and electric arcs wears outer clothing which is made of materials which will not increase the likelihood for serious injury sustained by an employee who is burned by flames and/or electric arcs. The proposed language would prohibit electrical workers from wearing garments composed of acetate, nylon, polyester, and rayon unless these materials are treated with flame retardant.

The proposed amendments are necessary to ensure that an electrical worker’s injury resulting from flames, fire, and electrical arcs are not intensified or aggravated by synthetic clothing which has melted and adhered to the skin causing further burning and tissue damage.

DOCUMENTS RELIED UPON

  1. American Society for the Testing of Materials (ASTM), Volume 10.03, ASTM F1506 and ASTM F1506-94, Standard Performance Specification for Textile Materials for Wearing Apparel for Use by Electrical Workers Exposed to Momentary Electrical Arc and Related Thermal Hazards.
  2. PG&E, Code of Safe Practices, 1997 Edition, Section 1, General Rules, Subsection 11, Clothing and Jewelry.
  3. OSHA Federal Register, Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution; Electrical Protective Equipment; Final Rule; Stay of Enforcement and Correction-59:33658-33664.
  4. Letter dated November 6, 1998 from the Director of Industrial Relations to Region IX, Federal-OSHA, RE: Complaint Against State Program Administration (CASPA 98/C-05) with enclosures.

These documents are available for review during normal business hours at the Standards Board Office located at 1300 I Street, Suite 920, Sacramento, California.

IDENTIFIED ALTERNATIVES THAT WOULD LESSEN ADVERSE
IMPACT ON SMALL BUSINESSES

No adverse impact on small businesses is anticipated from the implementation of the proposed amendments. California’s public and private utility industry will be primarily affected. The use of flame-retardant apparel and the fall protection systems are for the most part already in use by California employers. Article 10 of the General Industry Safety Orders (GISO) already requires employers to safeguard their employees and includes personal protective equipment, clothing, etc. The proposed amendments dealing with the apparel issue are a clarification of that regulation. The prohibition of body belts as part of a fall arrest system is practically axiomatic within the utility industry. The remainder of the proposal is merely a clarification of what is already required by existing regulations [e.g. Section 3383(b) of the GISO]. Section 3383(b) already specifies that clothing appropriate for the work being done shall be worn. Therefore, no alternatives which would lessen the impact on small businesses have been identified.

SPECIFIC TECHNOLOGY OR EQUIPMENT

This proposal will not mandate the use of specific technologies or equipment.

COST ESTIMATES OF PROPOSED ACTION

Costs or Savings to State Agencies

No significant costs or savings to state agencies will result as a consequence of the proposed action. (See the explanation under "Identified Alternatives that Would Lessen Adverse Impact On Small Businesses"). Most low voltage electrical work is contracted out by state agencies. Those who use in-house staff are already subject to the requirements for employee safeguarding contained in Article 10 of the GISO. The proposed language relating to apparel is merely a clarification of that performance-based language. The proposed fall protection amendments also address high and low voltage applications, and are consistent with the current state-of-the-art and industry practices. The use of a full body harness instead of a body belt for fall arrest will prevent serious disabling employee injury. This proposal is expected to benefit the employer’s accident/injury and loss experience rates possibly reducing worker compensation costs and other liabilities.

Impact on Housing Costs

The proposal will not significantly affect housing costs.

Impact on Businesses

This proposal will not result in a significant adverse economic impact on businesses, including the ability of California businesses to compete with businesses in other states. The proposed amendments to the Electrical Safety Orders are consistent with comparable requirements governing fall protection and apparel already in effect in other states.

Cost Impact on Private Persons or Entities

The proposal will not require private persons or entities to incur additional costs in complying with the proposal. Board staff notes that the electric power utility industry is the entity that is affected by the proposal, not a private person. The utility industry has for the most part already adopted the practice of requiring employees who may be exposed to fire and/or electric arc to wear suitable clothing as evidenced by the PG&E Code of Safe Practices. (See documents relied upon). Also, Section 3383(b) of the GISO already addresses the issue of appropriate clothing, albeit in generic terms. The proposed regulations pertaining to apparel are merely a clarification of what is already required in Article 10 of the GISO. Therefore, cost impact upon private persons and entities is expected to be insignificant.

Costs or Savings in Federal Funding to the State

The proposal will not result in costs or savings in federal funding to the state.

Costs or Savings to Local Agencies or School Districts Required to be Reimbursed

No costs to local agencies or school districts are required to be reimbursed. See explanation under "Determination of Mandate".

Other Nondiscretionary Costs or Savings Imposed on Local Agencies

This proposal does not impose nondiscretionary costs or savings on local agencies.

DETERMINATION OF MANDATE

The Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board has determined that the proposed regulations do not impose a mandate requiring reimbursement by the state pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division 4 of the Government Code because the proposed amendments will not require local agencies or school districts to incur additional costs in complying with the proposal. Furthermore, these regulations do not constitute a "new program or higher level of service of an existing program within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution."

The California Supreme Court has established that a "program" within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution is one which carries out the governmental function of providing services to the public, or which, to implement a state policy, imposes unique requirements on local governments and does not apply generally to all residents and entities in the state. (County of Los Angeles v. State of California (1987) 43 Cal.3d 46.)

These proposed regulations do not require local agencies to carry out the governmental function of providing services to the public. Rather, the regulations require local agencies to take certain steps to ensure the safety and health of their own employees only. Moreover, these proposed regulations do not in any way require local agencies to administer the California Occupational Safety and Health program. (See City of Anaheim v. State of California (1987) 189 Cal.App.3d 1478.)

These proposed regulations do not impose unique requirements on local governments. All employers - state, local and private - will be required to comply with the prescribed standards.

PLAIN ENGLISH STATEMENT

It has been determined that the proposal may affect small business. The express terms of the proposal written in plain English have been prepared by the Board pursuant to Government Code Sections 11342(e) and 11346.2(a)(1) and the informative digest for this proposal constitutes a plain English overview.

ASSESSMENT

The adoption of the proposed amendments to these regulations will neither create nor eliminate jobs in the State of California nor result in the elimination of existing businesses or create or expand businesses in the State of California.

ALTERNATIVES THAT WOULD AFFECT PRIVATE PERSONS

No alternatives considered by the Board would be more effective in carrying out the purpose for which the action is proposed or would be as effective and less burdensome to affected private persons than the proposed action.