On April 11, 2014 OSHA officially promulgated final standards updating the general industry and construction standards for work on electrical power generation, transmission and distribution installations – 29 C.F.R. § 1910.269 and 29 C.F.R. Part 1926, Subpart V.  OSHA also issued final standards covering electrical protective equipment, §§ 1910.137 and 1926.97.  The final standards contain a delayed effective date for some provisions until April 1, 2015, such as the requirement for fall protection for qualified employees changing locations on poles and similar structures and application of the new requirements for minimum approach distances.  Other requirements were set to become effective next month on July 10, 2014.

However, on June 20, 2014, OSHA issued a memorandum to all Regional Administrators setting out a temporary enforcement policy for the updated standards.  This memorandum extends the compliance date for all requirements through October 31, 2014.

OSHA has instructed Regional Administrators not to issue citations from July 10, 2014 through October 31, 2014, to employers under either the updated 1910.269 or 1926, Subpart V standard if they are in compliance with the old requirements of § 1910.269.  Therefore, employers in both construction and operation and maintenance of generation, transmission and distribution (general industry and construction) will have the option of complying with the new updated standards or follow the old requirements of § 1910.269 through October 31, 2014.   For employers engaged in construction work, they will be considered to be in compliance with the old version of § 1910.269 if they are also in compliance with 29 CFR 1926, Subpart M requirements as they apply to fall protection in aerial lifts.

This memorandum also requires Area Directors to submit any proposed citation under the updated standards to OSHA’s National Office and the OSH Division of the Solicitor’s Office for approval. The memorandum states:

“[i]f, on or after July 10, 2014, an Area Director determines that an employer is not in compliance with the prior version of 29 CFR 1910.269, citations may be issued, as appropriate, for violations of any effective and applicable provision of revised 29 CFR 1910.269 and 29 CFR 1926, Subpart V.  Any citation proposed to be issued under this temporary enforcement policy shall be forwarded to the Directorate of Enforcement Programs or the Directorate of Construction, as appropriate, through the Regional Office for clearance, which will include review by attorneys in the OSH Division of the Solicitor’s Office.”

Additionally, OSHA has extended the compliance date for certain requirements under the electrical protective standards for construction and general industry.  Specifically, under this temporary enforcement policy OSHA will not issue citations under 29 CFR 1910.137(b) or 29 CFR 1926.97(b).

To avoid citations, affected general industry and construction employers are encouraged to make sure they are in compliance with either the updated standards under § 1910.269 or Subpart V or are in compliance with the previous version of § 1910.269.