Are Electrical Workers Required to Be Qualified?
You might think that this question is a "no brainer" and yes it is to a certain extent. However, I am asked this question often. The proper answer is that anyone performing electrical work is required to be qualified for the work being performed, according to OSHA CFR 1910 subpart S and the NFPA standards. For example, an operator or welder would be required to be qualified for electrical work that is germane to his or her job. An electrician would require more intensive and intensive training because the electrical work or exposure would have been much clearer than the operator / welder would need.
I started in the electrical industry as and apprentice electrician before the OSHA regulations were written as a law. At that time it was hazardous work environment and no one tracked the accidents or fatalities that were associated with electrical work. It was just assumed electricity was dangerous and to stay away from it. Since those days I have finished my degree in Electrical Engineering and spent the last twenty – five years on codes, standards and the effects of electricity on the human body.
I have come to the conclusion that electrical safety can be accomplished and not diminishing production. In fact, electrical safety has proven to increase production because it not only delays shock and fire hazards but also decrees lost time and production which is significantly due to improper wiring methods, grounding and overcurrent protection which are critical components to production.
The real question is not if the electrical worker is required to be qualified but what are the requirements. OSHA and NFPA have given interpretations / information of the requirements for training and qualified worker status.
OSHA interpretations basically say that the qualified worker must be trained and demonstrate the ability to apply CFR 1910.subpart S for below 600 volt applications and 1910.269 for above 600 volt applications. This does require that the employee document the employee's abilities, including outside contract work.
The OSHA standards are law and written as such. To fully understand the OSHA regulations the worker must understand the promise by which the law was written. The worker must understand the intent of specific applications of the regulation and how they apply in real world applications. The primary promise for the OSHA electrical standards is based on the NFPA standards. The NFPA standards are consensus standards and are based on real world applications.
Electrical work is performed under a variety of job titles. The objective of the standards (OSHA and NFPA) is to make sure that the worker is familiar with the operation, construction, hazards, and trained germane to the work being performed. All qualified electrical worker training must include understanding and awareness of potential shock, fire, arc flashes and understand potential circuitry hazards.
The electrical worker must be competent in his or her ability to the proper use of PPE. The worker must be able to identify and control potential hazards. This will require that the worker has extensive knowledge of circuitry, wiring methods, grounding, overcurrent protection, energizing, de-energizing of equipment and the proper precautionary measures as described in OSHA 1910.Subpart S and 269.
A welder, for example, would need to be trained only on the systems that he or she would be working. However, the wireman, lineman, electrical technician, instrument mechanic, and the E / I mechanic would need intensive training in electrical principles and application to provide a safe environment. As you can see electrical safety is intense and requires more than just general safety requirements. It should not be taught or applied by someone who does not understand the proper application of these standards. Proper application only comes through education and experience.
The requirements for each job are found in the OSHA standards. Several interpretations have been issued by OSHA concerning training requirements for electrical workers. OSHA requirements deal with above 600 Volts and below 600 Volts. The electrical worker training must be germane to the voltage and application he or she will be working on or near.
Generally training is required for the qualified person and the unqualified person who may be working on or near electrical circuits above and below 600 volts.