WACs > Title 296 > Chapter 296-32 > Section 296-32-340
No agency filings affecting this section since 2003
Underground lines and cable vaults.
The provisions of this section apply to the guarding of manholes and street openings, and to the ventilation and testing for gas in manholes and unvented vaults, where telecommunications field work is performed on or with underground lines.
(1) Guarding manholes and street openings.
(a) When covers of manholes or vaults are removed, the opening shall be promptly guarded by a railing, temporary cover, or other acceptable temporary barrier to prevent an accidental fall through the opening and to protect employees working in the manhole from foreign objects entering the manhole.
(b) When work is to be performed on underground plant, the immediate foreman in charge and the craftsman assigned to do the work shall make a complete evaluation of the work location in regard to the hazards that are created or that could exist prior to beginning the work in underground plant.
(c) The immediate foreman and the craftsman responsible for the job completion shall be in agreement of the proper method of eliminating or reducing any hazards that are present or could be caused by the location of the work site, before the job proceeds.
(2) Requirements prior to entry of manholes and unvented vaults.
(a) The internal atmosphere shall be tested for combustible gas.
(b) Mechanical forced air ventilation shall be in operation at all times when workers are required to be in the manhole.
(c) The mechanical forced air equipment provided shall be of a quantity to replace the exhausted air and shall be tempered when necessary.
(d) Ventilation equipment shall be designed in such a manner that workers will not be subjected to excessive air velocities.
(3) Joint power and telecommunication manholes. While work is being performed in a manhole occupied jointly by an electric utility and a telecommunication utility, an employee with basic first-aid training shall be available in the immediate vicinity to render emergency assistance as required. This employee is not to be precluded from occasionally entering a manhole to provide assistance other than in an emergency. The requirement of WAC 296-32-340(3) does not preclude a qualified employee, working alone, from entering for brief periods of time, a manhole where energized cables or equipment are in service, for the purpose of inspection, housekeeping, taking readings, or similar work if such work can be performed safely.
(a) Ladders shall be used to enter and exit manholes exceeding four feet in depth.
(b) Metal manhole ladders shall be free of structural defects and free of accident hazards such as sharp edges and burrs. The metal shall be protected against corrosion unless inherently corrosion-resistant.
(c) These ladders may be designed with parallel side rails, or with side rails varying uniformly in separation along the length (tapered) or with side rails flaring at the base to increase stability.
(d) The spacing of rungs or steps shall be on 12-inch centers.
(e) Connections between rungs or steps and side rails shall be constructed to ensure rigidity as well as strength.
(f) Rungs and steps shall be corrugated, knurled, dimpled, coated with skid-resistant material, or otherwise treated to minimize the possibility of slipping.
(g) Ladder hardware shall meet the ladder's component parts and shall be of a material that is protected against corrosion unless inherently corrosion-resistant. Metals shall be so selected as to avoid excessive galvanic action.
(5) Flames. When open flames must be used in manholes, the following precautions shall be taken to protect against the accumulation of combustible gas:
(a) A test for combustible gas shall be made immediately before using any open flame device, and
(b) A fuel tank (e.g., acetylene) may not be in the manhole unless in actual use.
[Order 76-38, Â§ 296-32-340, filed 12/30/76; Order 75-41, Â§ 296-32-340, filed 12/19/75.]