The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that employers keep their employees safe near electrical hazards. Part of this requirement includes using appropriate markings to alert people to potential electrical dangers and keep the area in front of this equipment clear so work can be performed safely.
A simple way to meet electrical panel clearance requirements is to use floor markings. These markings can include floor marking tape, floor signs, and labels. With these tools, floor marking for electrical panel compliance can be accomplished without spending too much time or effort.
Before implementing any kind of marking strategy, employers must understand the OSHA standard related to electrical panel clearance.
OSHA standard 1910.303(g)(1) states:
“Space about electric equipment. Sufficient access and working space shall be provided and maintained about all electric equipment to permit ready and safe operation and maintenance of such equipment.”
It goes on to explain that when the nominal voltage to ground for a piece of electrical equipment is 600 volts or less, the minimum depth of clear working space in front of the equipment must be 3 feet (in some circumstances, it must be larger). This distance applies to some situations involving voltages up to 2500 volts as well. Employers should consult tables S-1 and S-2 of section 1910.303 of the OSHA standard to confirm the required clearance distances for their equipment. In many cases, the 3-foot distance applies.
Additionally, the width of the working space should be the width of the electrical panel or 30 inches, whichever is greater.
Note: According to the Congressional Accountability Office of Compliance, NFPA’s National Electric Code (NFPA 70 110.26) also requires a minimum clearance of 3 feet for electrical equipment with 600 volts or less.
Floor signs stating that the area in front of electrical panels must be kept clear are an effective method for complying with the OSHA standard. Multiple styles of floor sign exist for this purpose.
Floor signs like these or labels conveying similar information are key to communicating instructions.
To ensure the necessary 36 inches of clearance are left in front of electrical panels and that a working width of 30 inches is present, many workplaces combine signs with floor marking tape. This tape can outline the area to provide clear visual borders around circuit breaker panels and electrical boxes.
While specific colors of floor marking tape are not required, it’s often recommended that employers select colors that indicate a hazard is present. Striped black and yellow floor marking tape often serves this purpose, as black and yellow are regularly used for hazard markings.
Floor markings can serve many additional purposes in the workplace. Businesses frequently choose to mark aisles, walkways, exit routes, and hazardous areas. Combined, these floor markings make it easier for people to navigate workspaces and perform tasks more efficiently. Floor markings like those used near electrical panels also enhance safety.
Further information about floor marking can be found in this Floor Marking Guide.