Important Note: As of February 2015, compliance dates have changed for enforcement of OSHA standard 1910.269. These changes impact dates listed in this post. Click here for complete details and updated deadlines.
In April 2014, OSHA issued a ruling revising 29 CFR 1910.269 and 1926 subpart V, standards governing workplace safety in electric power generation, transmission and distribution work, that clarified and expanded employers’ responsibility to protect employees from arc flash hazards.
In fact, electric utilities large and small—including municipalities and cooperatives—will now be legally-required to supply employees with appropriate FR clothing.
Although the ruling will not be enforced by OSHA until October 31, 2014, employers should act now. Here’s why:
1. If you don’t currently provide full-body arc-rated clothing to your employees, your workers are at risk.
Based on the protective clothing your company currently provides, what would the quality of life be like for one of your employees after an arc flash incident?
OSHA’s previous requirement was simply that a worker’s clothing “do no harm” in the event of an arc flash. As a result, some utilities chose to meet the requirement by providing employees with natural fiber—rather than FR—pants.
The new ruling represents a distinct departure from the past, as it now explicitly requires employers to provide employees with full-body FR clothing matched to the hazard. Tyndale recently tested a pair of FR jeans against a pair of non-FR 100% cotton jeans. The video of the testing is a valuable demonstration of why the new requirement for full-body FR clothing is important.
Did you know that not all FR is created equal? FRC simply means non-melting whereas Arc Rated clothing is actually matched to the hazard workers face. Remember, all AR is FR but not all FR is AR.
2. As of July 10, 2014, it’s the law.
As part of this standard becoming law, the requirement for employers to provide employees with “non-melting” FR clothing is law as of July 10, 2014 and will be federally-enforced beginning October 31, 2014.
Further, under penalty of government-issued citation, employers are required to provide head-to-toe AR clothing matched to the mandated hazard assessment for hazards above 2 calories or work above 600v by April 1, 2015.
3. Supplies are Limited
Employers should take immediate action to evaluate current employee PPE offerings and schedule the required hazard assessment. The ruling will significantly increase demand for required arc rated items—particularly pants—and the effects of the demand will be felt throughout the supply chain.
The last time an FR clothing PPE standard was issued in 2010, there were significant industry-wide shortages. Working with a supplier like Tyndale to reserve inventory now will ensure your Company is positioned to be in compliance before the April 1st 2015 deadline.
What to do next:
In a Tyndale managed FR clothing program today? You’re on your way to compliance! Contact your National Account Manager for next steps.
Not in a Tyndale managed FR clothing program? Contact Tyndale at 800.356.3433 to learn more about solutions for this new standard.