New rules for power line workers in the offing

Long-delayed regulations to update safety standards for power line workers are set to be released to the public.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards have been in the works for more than a decade and would update the more than 40-year-old safety rules for the industry, which is considered one of the country’s most dangerous.

The White House’s regulations office, which puts new regulations through an interagency review before publishing them for the public to see, finished its analysis on Friday, according to a log of its actions. The move sets the stage for a formal unveiling of the rules shortly.

The agency began work on the new rules back in 2003, and published draft standards for the power lines in 2005. The rules were designed to overhaul current regulations and give workers more space and better equipment to do their jobs.

A final version of the regulation was sent to the White House in June of 2012, for what was supposed to be a 90-day review. It sat there for a year and half.

In September, electric company officials met with OSHA and White House staffers to talk about the pending regulations and make their final cases.

About 50 out of every 100,000 power line workers die on the job, making the profession one of the most deadly in the nation.

OSHA's revised standard "will prevent many of these fatalities, add flexibility to the standard, and update and streamline the standard,” the White House said in a description of the new rules.

According to OSHA’s analysis in its 2005 draft, the new standards would prevent about 19 deaths and 116 injuries each year, at an annual cost of about $33.9 million.