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OSHA sets final rule to address electric work-related injuries


All jobs can expose workers to safety risks. However, many workers in Newark, New Jersey, know that some jobs can be more prone to accidents, such as those involving electrical work.

After almost a decade, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released its final rule on electrical safety for electric cooperative workers. The recently released order addressed the safety issues that were raised since 2005, such as electric arc protection, minimum approach distances, fall protection and information sharing. The rule will take effect in 2015.

Before OSHA released the rule, there were no definite procedures on information sharing between co-op electrical workers and contractors about safety and worksite condition. The OSHA rule now allows the contractor to request that safety information. Additionally, it requires co-op employees to provide on-the-job safety information to contracted workers.

To reduce the occurrence of falls and protect workers, the rule reinforces what many electric cooperatives have been doing, requiring safety gears when tasks involve operating on horizontal equipment, using bucket trucks or climbing falls. The agency also holds the electric cooperatives responsible for determining the safe minimum distance for energized lines with voltages greater than 72.5 volts. In addition, the rule emphasized the use of safety gears, such as gloves and flame-retardant clothing, which can protect the workers from electrocution and burns.

Employers are required to follow federal safety standards to keep their employees safe and avoid workplace injuries and deaths. Unfortunately, even employees of companies with the most stringent safety policies can incur work-related injuries because of inherently dangerous jobs.

An employee hurt on the job can face emotional distress, as well as financial challenges because of medical expenses and lost wages. Fortunately, the employee may claim workers' compensation benefits. Nonetheless, if there is difficulty processing or obtaining the benefit, a legal professional can help.

Source: Electric Co-Op Today, "OSHA Sets Final Rule on Electrical Safety," Cathy Cash, April 15, 2014

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