OSHA answered two questions in a recent letter of interpretation to an employer. I thought the "questions and answers" would be of interest to the group.
Here is Question #2. Feel free to comment or ask your own questions.
GlennQuestion (2): Scenario A:
A general contractor brings in an electrical subcontractor to install temporary electrical service at a construction site. The electrical sub properly installs a service panel. Each outlet in the service panel is grounded. There is no contractual requirement that the electrical sub maintain assured grounding programs.Scenario B:
Same as Scenario A, except that the electrical subcontractor properly installs GFCI protection for each outlet. There is no contractual requirement that the electrical sub maintain the GFCIs.
In Scenarios A and B, is the electrical subcontractor required to monitor the compliance of other on-site subcontractors with the ground fault protection provisions of §1926.404(b)(1)?
Answer: No. As noted above, §1926.404(b)(1)(i) provides that the "employer" is required to use either a GFCI or an assured equipment grounding conductor program for ground fault protection. The Preamble to this rule (volume 41 of the Federal Register, page 55696) discussed the rationale behind offering the alternative methods of compliance under §1926.440(h)(1).2
* * * the use of assured equipment grounding conductor programs on construction sites can be as effective as ... the use of GFCI's.
* * * an employer may choose one method of protection or the other on the basis of several factors. The individual employer may choose on the basis of cost; if his local jurisdiction already requires GFCI's, he may choose GFCI's; if
he is one employer of many on a construction site[/b], the availability of alternatives gives him flexibility to coordinate compliance. [Emphasis added.]
This reflects an intent that the term "employer," as used in §1926.404(b)(1)(i) of the ground fault provision, when applied in the context of a construction site with multiple employers, refers to each
of the employers/subcontractors with employees exposed to the hazard. Thus, each
employer/subcontractor on the site that has exposed employees is obligated to ensure that one of the options is in "use."
In sum, in Scenarios A and B, absent any additional factors,3 the electrical subcontractor would not be responsible for monitoring the compliance of other subcontractors at the site with §1926.404(b)(1).