OSHA violation

Hi All,

Need some quick help with an electrical issue. One of my commercial properties had an inspection recently and the compliance officer cited the location for 29 CFR 1910.303(b)(2), specifically, “(2) Installation and use. Listed or labeled equipment shall be used or installed in accordance with any instructions included in the listing or labeling.”

The apparent violation involved some extension cords that had quad junction boxes attached to the end to provide temporary power. The quad boxes were the type with metal knock-outs present, and all of the original knock-outs were in place. The inspector said this was not an acceptable use for this type of box, although a box of similar material with no knock-outs, or one with screw-in knock-outs would be acceptable. Seems like a stretch to me, but the property is facing a violation of $2K for this.

Anyone have supporting documentation I can use that might help contest this citation, or at least minimize the damage?

These (or equal) are the types of boxes that you need to use:


Personally I know that this is an OSHA requirement but I don’t see how it falls under the section that you’ve quoted unless these boxes are specifically listed for this application and the other type is not. IMO the $2000 fine is excessive for this violation.

I agree with RM. I think part of it has to do with the durability of the stamped or welded box and also the possibility of the knockouts either falling out or contacting a live part.

Proof of compliance by the abatement date will usually reduce the fine by at least 50%.

There is a also a requirement for GFI protection for cordsets used for temporary usage. It cannot be supplied by a standard GFI receptacle.

29 CFR citation, please?

Good point Jim and fortunately, this was not cited.

All citations were abated while the inspector was on property so these are the fines.

Robert - those boxes shown are to be used for temporary power cord sets?

I suppose I am looking for the CFR that addresses that the boxes used in this case with the knock-outs are not listed for this use. Underwriters Laboratories UL 231 I believe addresses cord sets but I don’t see a reference to the use of boxes with knock-outs.

This is probably the relevant NEC Article.

**[FONT=Times-Bold]size=2 Pendant Boxes. [/size][/FONT][FONT=Times-Roman][size=2]An enclosure supported by a pendant
shall comply with 314.23(H)(1) or (2).
[FONT=Times-Bold]size=2 Flexible Cord. **[/size][/FONT][FONT=Times-Roman][size=2]A box shall be supported from a multiconductor
cord or cable in an approved manner that protects
the conductors against strain, such as a strain-relief
connector threaded into a box with a hub.

Thanks Jim. I also found this OSHA interpretation:


So there we are. Nothing to contest. Pay the fine. Thanks all for your input, much appreciated.

So which inspectors previously stated OSHA had no jurisdiction? This an unfortunate common belief, until they show up. Thanks for passing your experience along.

He said it was a “commercial property”. I took that to mean he owns it and had employees working in it. The employers working in the property are covered by the Act. The owner of the property would not be, in my opinion, unless they had employees there.

By the way, it doesn’t sound to me like you got a $2,000 fine for that one thing. Just because you abated the other violations during the inspection doesn’t mean you don’t get cited for those too.

I’ve forgotten a lot of stuff, but I worked as a compliance officer for 4 years in the 80s.

All 3 violations were abated, didn’t matter as the area director has since assessed the following fines:

$2,500 - no electrical disconnect at a kitchen mixer (was hard wired, now plug-in)
$2,500 - no lock-out/tag-out devices applied to disconnect. This one is an easy contest since there were no devices actively locked out during the inspection. Proper LO devices exist in the correct numbers, and there is staff on-site and trained in proper LO techniques and methods.
$2,000 - The cord sets described in this post.

This is a commercial building in the eastern U.S. I do not own or work for the employer, I am retained as a consultant.

In SC, back in the 80s, the easiest thing to do was to ‘volunteer’ to enter the “consultation program” (I think that’s what it was called). You have to do the abatement and consent to “consultation inspections” but that took you completely out of the enforcement side of OSHA. Check into it.

I wouldn’t waste much time trying to prove OSHA wrong. They hold all the cards and are generally right (they do that stuff for a living!).

Yes Joe, I am aware of that program. Not a bad idea, however as a business owner you must accept the fact that you will frequently open your doors to regular inspections. Not something that the managers who own the buildings that I inspect wish to stomach at the moment. They figure that when OSHA comes around, they get fined. So you want me to invite them here? Perhaps at some point I can get them to understand the benefits of this program.

We perform “Mock OSHA inspections” at these locations and follow the same protocol that OSHA would use. These are unannounced inspections and they have no idea we are visiting. Good fun for me, and good training for all involved.

Unsafe conditions that exist at a workplace or worksite…whether it is a “commercial building” or contractors who are working in your front yard…fall under the jurisdiction of OSHA.

Whether it is simply the owner of the company…or twenty of his employees…at the site, if the conditions are unsafe they are subject to citations.

An OSHA inspector has the right (and the duty, he will tell you) to address every unsafe act or condition that he observes in any workplace…even a fast food joint in which he is having lunch.

Participation in voluntary programs has no bearing on what an OSHA inspector will do if called to the site by an employee or if he observes the condition or act on his own.

Well said James.

You are mistaken.

An OSHA inspector cannot cite any violation he observes in the course of his day. If he’s not assigned to inspect the Burger King, he can’t inspect it unless he observes an “imminent hazard”, one capable of producing imminent death or serious physical injury. An example would be an excavation observed on the side of the road that wasn’t sloped or equipped with a trench box. And that must get approval from the inspector’s Director prior to just jumping in to those situations (at least it was that way in SC).

As has been discussed many times, OSHA covers employees only. If it’s a sole ownership or partnership, the owners are not covered by the Act. If the owner has employees and they are breaking OSHA rules, the company is subject to citation. If the owner standing beside them is doing the same thing, he is not covered. So, if the contractors working in your yard are owners of the business, they can stick dynamite in their mouth and OSHA has no jurisdiction.

You are wrong. I never stated that he could independently inspect anything.

An OSHA inspector on his way to Job A can drive past a building and see an unharnessed worker hanging from a roof. He can stop, issue a citation, and continue on his way.

He can be eating lunch at McDonalds and observe an unsafe condition at or near the fryer. Same thing.

Not sure where you are getting your info…but it’s not from OSHA.

OSHA does NOT limit to “employees, only”…for it is citing conditions in which both employee and management work. This unsafe electrical extension cord which is the subject of this thread could just as easily harm a boss as well as an employee. Unsafe acts by the boss…that could also endanger an employee…will also fall under his jurisdiction.

Your loopholes are imaginary.

Here’s exactly what you said: “An OSHA inspector has the right (and the duty, he will tell you) to address every unsafe act or condition that he observes in any workplace…even a fast food joint in which he is having lunch.”

That sure makes is sound like you said they can inspect anything.

You are right in your example about the unharnessed employee. That is an example of an imminent hazard.

I got my information from 4 years as a construction and general industry Compliance Officer for OSHA in South Carolina in the mid 80s. I will concede that maybe things have changed in Chairman’s Obama’s world of unlimited government power.

Where do you get your information Mr. Know it All?

No it doesn’t.

It means exactly what it says.

If he observes an unsafe act or condition, he can address it.

To answer your question, as a Union President who worked with OSHA inspectors almost daily, I graduated from the OSHA 30-hour course. Still refer to the materials, often.

If you truly understood OSHA, you would also know that it takes an act of Congress to change, amend, add to or modify the Act in anyway. Your disdain for the President of the United States need not bleed over into this topic, since he cannot have any affects on how OSHA is administered.