INITIAL STATEMENT OF REASONS

CALIFORNIA CODE OF REGULATIONS
TITLE 8: GENERAL INDUSTRY SAFETY ORDERS
Chapter 4, Subchapter 7, Article 13, Section 3441and Section 3455

Overhead Electrical Hazards in Agricultural Operations


PROBLEM ADDRESSED BY PROPOSED ACTION

This rulemaking action was initiated following an advisory committee convened to address a petition submitted to the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (Board) by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). The petition submitted by CPUC requested that the Board promulgate regulations in Article 13 of the General Industry Safety Orders (GISO) to address overhead electrical hazards in agricultural operations. At the advisory committee meeting, CPUC representatives provided information from their accident/incident records showing that between the years 1994 and 1998 there were 24 reported incidents of workers who made contact with energized electrical lines. Because several incidents resulted in injury to more than one worker, a total of 9 fatalities and 19 injuries were reported.

The CPUC petition included a proposal recommending "Warning" bands or "Caution" signs be maintained on or near orchard trees and signs/labels on irrigation pipes and other electrically conductive tools used in areas with overhead electrical hazards. The proposal also recommended that an area containing overhead electrical hazards be designated as a "Danger Zone" and that employees who perform work in any "Danger Zone" receive training with regard to electrical hazards.

There were major unresolved concerns expressed during the advisory committee deliberations about the feasibility of regulations that would require maintaining warning bands or caution signs on or near orchard trees. Similar unresolved concerns were expressed regarding proposed requirements for caution signs/labels on irrigation pipes and other conductive tools used in areas with overhead electrical hazards. However, a number of advisory committee members agreed that new language in Article 13 of the GISO which includes specific inspection and training requirements would help to mitigate the potential for injuries to agricultural workers associated with overhead electrical hazards. Therefore, this proposal provides specific inspection and training requirements and reminds employers that the clearance requirements from energized lines contained in the High Voltage Electrical Safety Orders (HVESO) must be maintained.

SPECIFIC PURPOSE AND FACTUAL BASIS OF PROPOSED ACTION

Section 3441. Operation of Agricultural Equipment.

Subsection (a)(5)

Section 3441 requires employers to instruct every employee in the safe operation and servicing of all equipment that employees will be using or working with. Existing subsection (a)(5) requires electrical power to be locked out before performing maintenance or service on agricultural equipment. A "note" is proposed for subsection (a)(5) to reference Section 3455 with respect to overhead electrical hazards. The proposed "note" is necessary to ensure that employers are aware of the overhead electrical hazard requirements contained in the proposed amendments to Section 3455.

Subsection (a)(6)

One of the safe operating practices contained in Section 3441 is subsection (a)(6) which states, "Watch for electric power lines and maintain clearances as required by the High Voltage Safety Orders." An amendment is proposed to delete this subsection since this requirement is now contained in the proposed changes to Section 3455. The proposed deletion is necessary to avoid duplication in the regulations.

Section 3455. Metal Fruit Picking Poles.

Existing Section 3455 prohibits the use of metal or any other electrically conductive poles for fruit picking, nut-knocking, or any other similar agricultural operations. An amendment is proposed to rename this section as "Overhead Electrical Hazards" which will more accurately reflect the requirements contained in the proposed changes to this section.

Subsection (a)

A new subsection (a) is proposed that will require an inspection of orchards and planted areas to determine if high-voltage lines located in work areas will expose employees to electrical hazards. The proposal requires employers to identify those agricultural fields and orchard areas which contain high-voltage lines within reach of agricultural tools/equipment planned for use so that appropriate instruction and training can be provided. Though the employer’s Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP), outlined in Section 3203 of the GISO, requires periodic scheduled inspections, accident records confirm that agricultural workers continue to have injuries and fatalities as a result of contact with high-voltage power lines. Therefore, the inspection requirement contained in the proposal is necessary to ensure that an inspection is conducted each time agricultural workers may be working with tools and equipment in close proximity to energized high-voltage lines.

Subsection (b)

A new subsection (b) is proposed that will incorporate the existing text of Section 3455 with editorial amendments. The existing language in Section 3455 states, "Metal or any other electrically conductive poles shall not be used for fruit picking, nut-knocking, or any other similar agricultural operations." The words "Metal or any other" are proposed for deletion since the term "electrically conductive poles" includes metal poles and makes the specific reference to metal poles unnecessary. Likewise, the phrase "or any other similar agricultural operations" is proposed for deletion since fruit picking and nut-knocking poles are used exclusively for these stated purposes making the phrase unnecessary. These editorial amendments are necessary to provide clarity in the regulation.

In addition, proposed Subsection (b) requires employees using conductive tools or equipment to receive instruction on the hazards associated with working in proximity to energized high-voltage electrical lines. The instruction must cover the use of tools, equipment and work practices necessary to perform their work safely and maintain the appropriate clearances [as specified in proposed new subsection (c)] from energized high-voltage lines. The proposal is necessary to ensure employers provide specific instruction and training related to the hazards associated with agricultural operations where overhead electrical lines are present.

Subsection (c)

A proposed new subsection (c) will require that the clearance distances from energized high-voltage lines, as referenced in the High Voltage Electrical Safety Orders, be maintained. The "note" proposed for this subsection will remind employers that the required clearances contained in Table 1 of Article 37 pertain to general clearances and those contained in Table 2 pertain to boom-type lifting or hoisting equipment. While many agricultural employers are aware of the requirements contained in Article 13 of the General Industry Safety Orders for agricultural operations, some employers may not be familiar with the requirements in High-Voltage Electrical Safety Orders (HVESO). Placing a HVESO reference in the regulations that is specific to agriculture and that provides safe distances to be maintained from electrical lines is necessary to increase employer awareness and improve safety-related instruction to agricultural workers thereby reducing the number of accidents/injuries to workers from contact with energized electrical lines.

 DOCUMENTS RELIED UPON

  1. Petition File No. 386 Decision dated August 20, 1998 to the California Public Utilities Commission, Consumer Services Division-Utilities Safety Branch.
  2. Undated report received at the March 11, 1999 advisory committee meeting from the California Public Utilities Commission entitled: "California Public Utilities Commission’s Proposed Rule Change to the General Industry Safety Orders Background and Incident Data.

IDENTIFIED ALTERNATIVES THAT WOULD LESSEN ADVERSE ECONOMIC
IMPACT ON SMALL BUSINESSES

No adverse impact on small businesses is anticipated from the implementation of the proposed amendments. 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 costs or savings to state agencies will result as a consequence of the proposed amendments. The regulations do not affect any State agency or program. See also "Impact on Businesses."

Impact on Housing Costs

The proposal will not affect housing costs.

Impact on Businesses

The 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 proposal may result in some minor written and procedural changes to the Injury and Illness Prevention Program of agricultural employers to ensure that work area inspections are conducted and instruction is given to employees using conductive tools/equipment that could come into contact with energized high-voltage lines. It is not expected that agricultural employers will incur any significant costs as a result of the proposal.

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.

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 or 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 are available from the agency contact person named in the notice. 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.