OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is the division of the U.S. Department of Labor that sets and enforces occupational health and safety rules.

Every day, workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities cause immeasurable pain and suffering to employees and their families. Recent estimates indicate that workplace injuries and illnesses cost U.S. businesses $170 billion each year in associated and often preventable expenses. Effective Safety and Health Management Systems (SHMS) have proven to be decisive factors in reducing the extent and severity of work-related injuries and illnesses. OSHA standards cover many electrical and other hazards in the workplace.

Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act, often referred to as the General Duty Clause, requires employers to “furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.Section 5(a)(2) requires employers to “comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this Act.

OSHA's general industry electrical safety standards are published in Title 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 1910.302 through 1910.308 - Design Safety Standards for Electrical Systems, and 1910.331 through 1910.335 - Electrical Safety Related Work Practices Standards.

OSHA's electrical standards are based on the National Fire Protection Association Standards NFPA 70, the National Electric Code, and NFPA 70E, Electrical Safety Requirements for Employee Workplaces. OSHA also has electrical safety standards for the construction industry, in 29 CFR 1926, Subpart K.

OSHA has announced a final rule that all PPE, with a few exceptions, will be provided by the employer at no cost to the employee. This new ruling helps clarify the cost responsibility for the requirements found in OSHA 1910.132.

According to OSHA 1910.132(d)(1);

“The employer shall assess the workplace to determine if hazards are present, or are likely to be present, which necessitate the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). If such hazards are present, or likely to be present, the employer shall:”

“Select, and have each affected employee use, the types of PPE that will protect the affected employee from the hazards identified in the hazard assessment;”

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UniFirst manufactures our own line of protective clothing (PPE) called Armorex FR®, available in the following protective fabrics: UltraSoft®, Tecasafe® Plus, CXP ("Next Generation" Nomex®), and Nomex®. And because we build in only the best features and benefits that our customers demand, Armorex FR® offers maximum protection, superior comfort, and the best value for your investment. In addition to our Armorex FR® line, we also offer FR apparel options from other top brand names like Bulwark®, Workrite®, and Carhartt®.

Although OSHA operates a federal occupational safety and health program, 24 states and 2 territories operate their own OSHA-approved programs. In those states, the standards and other procedures governing electrical safety may not be identical to the federal requirements. They must, however, be at least as effective as the federal standards.

Electrical hazards, such as wiring deficiencies, are one of the hazards most frequently cited by OSHA. OSHA's electrical standards include design requirements for electrical systems and safety related work practices.

Employers must perform an assessment of each operation in their workplace to determine if their employees are required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE). Note that engineering controls and work practices are the preferred methods for protecting employees. OSHA generally considers PPE to be the least desirable means of controlling employee exposure.

Helpful OSHA Links

Small- and medium-sized employers can benefit from OSHA's “Small Business Handbook” which contains specific information about SHMS: www.osha.gov/Publications/smallbusiness/small-business.html

OSHA's “Compliance Assistance QuickStart” Web page is an online resource providing SHMS information: www.osha.gov/dcsp/compliance_assistance/quickstarts/index.html

OSHA's “Hazard Awareness Advisor” is an online tool to assist in identifying and correcting safety and health workplace hazards: www.dol.gov/elaws/oshahaz.htm

For additional information about UniFirst Flame Resistant garments, call us at (800) 455-7654.


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