OSHA’s role relative to electrical personnel safety requirements is (with the few exceptions listed in 29CFR1926, Subpart K) to turn certain NEC requirements into federal law.
Spacing around equipment is one of those requirements. It’s important to understand that as you struggle to get management to “give” you enough space around equipment, you aren’t asking them to do you any personal favors. You are explaining to them how to comply with federal law.
It’s not that you’d like to have about three feet of empty space in front of a transformer, except for those boxes that are easy to move. It’s that specific minimum clearances are federally mandated.
The minimums for equipment operating at under 600V are in Article 110, Part II. For equipment operating above 600V, the minimums are in Part III.
Meeting legal requirements is a good first step. But minimum spacing might not be enough to permit adequately supporting production or a wider safety goal.
Example 1. The proposed location for an electrical cabinet for a critical production line puts its face three feet from a wall. With a maintenance cart and two electricians in there and the cabinet doors almost scraping the wall, how effective are downtime calls going to be?
Example 2. Suppose you have 480V switchgear located near an exit commonly used by production workers. Table 110.26(A)(1) tells us the minimum working space is three feet. That is not enough to ensure the safety of those production workers.