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Two-Person Rule

What Does Two-Person Rule Mean?

The two-person rule is a safety requirement imposed on certain types of highly hazardous work, especially electrical work. It requires any work being done by a single person to be monitored by a second person who can intervene if an accident or other safety incident occurs. This monitoring may be the second person’s main task (spotting), or both persons may be expected to monitor each other while doing their own work.

The two-person rule is designed to ensure that a worker performing hazardous work can be rescued in the event of a safety incident. Thus, to be qualified to operate in two-person rule situations, a worker must be able to remove their colleague from the hazardous area and must also know how to administer CPR.

The two-person rule is used by many OHS organizations, including OSHA, to increase worker safety in high-hazard contexts.

Safeopedia Explains Two-Person Rule

The two-person rule can be briefly described as the requirement that two qualified workers be present in a single workplace whenever hazardous work is performed. For electrical work, each worker must be a qualified electrical professional and must remain aware of the other worker’s task while completing their own activities.

The basic tenets of the two-person rule are that both individuals must remain in visual and audible contact throughout the full duration of their work, that both have a thorough knowledge of how to disconnect and shut down any energized machinery, and that both have a means to alert emergency-rescue personnel if an incident occurs.

Furthermore, if an electrical injury does occur to one of the two persons, the other individual must be able to safety disengage their injured partner from the hazardous area and must know how to perform CPR. In some jurisdictions, workers must also know where the nearest AED (automated external defibrillator) is located and how to use it.

OSHA enforces the two-person rule across most situations in which workers are exposed to equipment or power lines that are energized at or above 600 volts. If the electrical work is taking place in an enclosed area that is too small for two persons to fit into, such as certain underground areas, a second person must be immediately available above ground. Certain tree-removal tasks that take place near energized lines also require the presence of a second person who can intervene as needed.


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Best PracticesElectrical SafetyOSHA

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