Ask the Expert, Electrical Safety

Ask the Expert: OSHA Requirements for Electrical Equipment Inspection

In our latest installment of Ask the Expert, brought to you by the team of industry experts at EHS Hero®, we look at a recent question from a subscriber asking about the OSHA requirements for electrical equipment inspection. See what the experts had to say. 

Q: How often should electrical equipment (e.g., MCCs, breaker panels, etc.), wiring, and terminations be inspected and to what standard?

The answer to your question is limited to the federal OSHA electrical requirements for worker safety. Private sector workplaces in Colorado are regulated by federal OSHA. Review state and local building, fire, and public safety codes for any additional inspection requirements for electrical systems and equipment.

Federal OHSA rules for electrical safety do not specify how often facilities must inspect electrical equipment or wiring. OSHA does, however, consider industry consensus standards such as the Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace (NFPA 70E) as recognized industry practice, and OSHA’s field inspectors may use a current version of such a standard as a reference when inspecting a workplace for violations. See the OSHA letter of interpretation concerning an employer’s use of the NFPA 70E as evidence of a recognized hazard at https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/standardinterpretations/2008-02-29.

Following are several industry consensus standards that contain electrical systems and equipment inspection procedures:

  • National Electrical Code (NFPA 70) is the nationally recognized benchmark for safe electrical design, installation, and inspection to protect people and property from electrical hazards
  • Guide on Electrical Inspections (NFPA 78) covers minimum criteria for conducting electrical inspections for new electrical installations and modifications to existing installations
  • Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace (NFPA 70E) to protect workers from shock, electrocution, and arc flash/blast.
  • National Electrical Safety Code (ANSI C2) for operation and maintenance of electric power and communication utility systems

There are OSHA electrical safety inspection requirements for specific activities and types of electrical equipment:

  • The OSHA requirements for wiring methods, components, and equipment do not apply to the conductors that are an integral part of factory-assembled equipment. See the rule at 29 CFR 1910.305(a).
  • Before each use, visually inspect test instruments and equipment and all associated test leads, cables, power cords, probes, and connectors for external defects and damage. See the rule at 29 CFR 1910.334(c)(2).