White House Regulatory Office Releases Final Rule Covering Electrical Power Safety

By Bruce Rolfsen  

Dec. 23 --A review of the draft final rule for protecting workers constructing and repairing high-voltage power lines was completed Dec. 20 by the White House's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, ending an examination that lasted 18 months, according to an OIRA statement.

The final rule, Electrical Power Transmission and Distribution; Electrical Protective Equipment standard (RIN 1218-AB67), is now back with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The next step is expected to be the publishing of the final rule in the Federal Register. An OSHA spokesman told Bloomberg BNA Dec. 23 that a publication date hadn't been set.

OSHA has been developing the regulation for more than a decade, holding a small business review in 2003 and public hearings, the most recent of which was in 2009.

OSHA hasn't released any information about what changes, if any, were made to the regulation during the OIRA review. The regulation aims to revise portions of the general industry power transmission standard (29 C.F.R. 1910.269) and the construction standard for power transmission and distribution (29 C.F.R. 1926 Subpart V). Some requirements haven't been updated in more than 37 years.

During the OIRA process, power company and union representatives twice met with White House and OIRA officials to discuss their concerns and what they hoped the rule would say (201 OHD, 10/17/13).

Charles Kelly, the Edison Electrical Institute's director of safety and human resource issues, attended both sessions.

“We just hope that the review took into consideration the joint issues that industry and labor agreed upon and recommended to OSHA,” Kelly told Bloomberg BNA Dec. 23.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bruce Rolfsen in Washington at brolfsen@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jim Stimson at jstimson@bna.com