Question (1): Scenario: Employees will be using an insulated device to verify that an electrical circuit that has been "turned off, locked, and tagged" is de-energized. Are these employees required to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) under OSHA's construction standard 1926.416(a)(1) and/or NFPA 70E?
Answer: Section 1926.416(a)(1) provides: No employer shall permit an employee to work in such proximity to any part of an electric power circuit that the employee could contact the electric power circuit in the course of work, unless the employee is protected against electric shock by de-energizing the circuit and grounding it or by guarding it effectively by insulation or other means. [Emphasis added]
In your scenario, the employees are exposed to the hazard of electric shock since, at the time they are doing the work, a determination that the circuit has been de-energized has not yet occurred. Therefore, under this provision, these employees must be protected against electric shock "by guarding [the part] by insulation or other means." When so guarded, under this provision, PPE would not be required to protect against the electric shock hazard.
An additional hazard that may be associated with the work described in your scenario is that of arc flash. While Subpart K requirements have the effect of reducing the likelihood of an arc flash, Subpart K does not address the hazard that an arc flash poses to employees if it were to occur.2However, 29 CFR 1926.95(a) provides that: