Electricians often carry a copy of the NEC, but seldom carry a copy of OSHA 1926 (the document that provides construction safety requirements mandated by the federal government).
Would you be safer if you gave OSHA 1926 a place next to your dog-eared copy of the NEC? Probably not. To understand why, it helps to know some things about OSHA’s intent and what OSHA actually says.
OSHA 1926 includes Subparts A through Z, plus some appendices. Each Subpart addresses a different safety category. Subpart K addresses electrical work.
OSHA does not provide detailed safety training, so the requirements don’t directly translate over into what you actually do on the job. For example, consider this excerpt from 1926.403: “The employer must ensure that electrical equipment is free from recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees.”
At first glance, it appears that OSHA puts all the burden on the employer. But this is a general requirement, and when you read the particulars that apply to it you find that OSHA is really requiring the employer to ensure that employees fulfill this requirement.
That’s why, for example, your company has a safety training program. It could be OSHA-compliant but ineffective; in our next issue, we’ll look at how that can be and what you should do.
In the meantime, always be looking for what hazards might exist and how to protect yourself—not what you can get away with.