According to the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), new safety rules proposed by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for powerline construction have the potential to help reduce fatalities and injuries among electricians performing high-voltage work on utility-owned systems.

However, some of the association’s small business owners voiced strong concerns about particular aspects of the proposed rules. One concern the owners have is electric utilities that hire contractors to perform construction and maintenance work must share responsibility for ensuring worker safety.

Another concern is that the proposed rules’ emphasis on fire-resistant clothing and personal protective equipment (PPE) discourages more effective means of hazard reduction, such as working only on de-energized systems.

“We welcome improvements that will truly enhance safety performance, yet eliminate unnecessary burdens on our efforts to provide electrical power service to this country,” says Dave Potts, NECA’s director of safety and insurance.