Portable ladders must have nonconductive side rails when the employee, ladder, or any tools used could contact exposed energized parts. OSHA applies specific rules for working on or near exposed de-energized parts. Electrical equipment that has been turned off but not locked or tagged out is considered energized. When an unqualified person performs work in an elevated position near overhead lines, they must remain ten feet away from the de-energized parts for every 50 kilovolts or below. The distance must be increased by four inches for every ten kilovolts over 50. Conductive objects used by a person on a ladder must be factored into this equation. Employees may not perform housekeeping duties near live electrical parts when there is a possibility of contact, unless insulating equipment, barriers, or other adequate safeguards are provided. Electrically conductive cleaning materials include solids such as steel wool, metalized cloths, silicon carbide, and conductive liquid solutions. Portable metal ladders must be marked legibly with signs reading “CAUTION – Do Not Use Around Electrical Equipment” or equivalent wording.
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