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Controlling Electrical Hazards

In general, OSHA'S electrical standards are based on the National Fire Protection Associations' Standard NFPA 70E, and in turn, from the National Electrical Code (NEC).

OSHA also publishes standards for construction and maritime, but recommends that employers in these industries follow the general industry electrical standards whenever possible for hazards that are not addressed by their industry standards.

OSHA's electrical standards address concerns that electricity has long been recognized as a serious workplace hazard, exposing employees to such dangers as electric shock, burns, fires, electrocution, and explosions. For example, in 1992 the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 6,210 work-related deaths occurred in private sector workplaces employing 11 workers or more. Six percent of the fatalities, or around 347 deaths, were the direct result of electrocutions at work.

OSHA'S standards help reduce these potential hazards by specifying safety aspects in the design and use of electrical equipment and electrical systems. The standards cover only those parts of any electrical system that an employee would normally use or contact (eg: the exposed and/or operating elements of an electrical installation-lighting, equipment, machines, appliances, switches, controls).

For employers and employees in the states operating OSHA'S approved workplace safety and health plans, their states may be enforcing standards/procedures that while "at least as effective" federal standards are not always identical to federal requirements.

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