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Displaying Holiday Lights

Posted on 12/4/2012 by James Griffin

It’s time again to decorate for the holidays! Whether your holiday lights are red, green, blue, flashing, icicle-shaped, or still knotted in a ball in the storage room—there are several workplace lighting, electrical, and installation/wiring guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) you should be aware of before stringing up the decorations.
 
Lighting standards can be found at 29 CFR Part 1910, under the rules for electrical wiring installation. The rules, including regulations regarding grounding, wire size, and installation locations for permanent wiring can be found at §1910.304. Keep in mind that permanent wiring rules still apply regardless of the light source. For instance, OSHA standard 1910.304(c)(5) states that lights used outdoors must be placed below all live transformers, conductors, and any other electrical equipment unless adequate clearances and safeguards are provided.
 
At §1910.305, there are also rules for temporary lighting, which is where you will find specific standards for holiday lights. These requirements include, but are not limited to:
 
  • All other requirements for permanent wiring still apply to temporary wiring (unless specifically modified in §1910.305(a)(2));
  • The temporary lighting must be 600 volts, nominal, or less;
  • Holiday lights may only be up for 90 days;
  • Flexible cords and cables shall be protected from accidental damage, as might be caused, for example, by sharp corners, projections, and doorways or other pinch points;
  • Cable assemblies and flexible cords and cables shall be supported in place at intervals that ensure that they will be protected from physical damage. Support shall be in the form of staples, cables ties, straps, or similar type fittings installed so as not to cause damage; and
  • Specific rules for feeders and branch circuits.
For full requirements, check out 29 CFR 1910.305(a)(2).
 
Have a happy and safe holiday season!
 

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