For the wind power industry, practicing safety has always been more than a mission—it’s required. After all, a wind technician may be working in a space the size of a bathroom located on a tower 80 meters tall, surrounded by massive mechanical and high voltage electrical equipment, in a harsh climate, far from medical services.
Construction professionals understand the importance of not damaging buried utilities while performing any type of new construction and maintenance work. Even so, accidental strikes of underground utility lines continue to interrupt essential services, cause millions of dollars in damage, result in serious injuries, and in some cases, loss of life.
Some utility personnel have resisted arc-flash compliance with the presumption that arc flashes and blasts are not a major issue for the utility industry. Organizations and standards committees such as IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), NFPA70E (National Fire Protection Association), EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute), CRN (Cooperative Research Network) and others confirm this as a false statement. An IEEE study concluded, “To decrease the number and severity of non-fatal electrical burn injuries, direct worker exposure to electrical arc energy must be reduced.”
Accidents happen when we least expect them. “Why?” is usually the first question. The common follow-up analysis is, “How could I have let this happen?”
San Diego Gas & Electric recently hosted a Western Fall Restraint Conference. SDG&E is moving forward in establishing safer climbing practices and knew they would benefit from bringing their western partners together to share what has worked for them in launching a new program, best practices, equipment concerns and overall experiences.
If you consider personal safety equipment inconvenient and uncomfortable to wear, you may want to consider the alternatives.
A review of the relevant standards and training that companies need to provide.
Tower rescue presents a completely different level of difficulty in planning and methodology. Whether 250-ft communications or transmission towers, they are often necessarily placed in remote areas, and usually inaccessible to conventional paramedic rescue vehicles. While it is each individual employer’s responsibility to make their own determinations on how rescues will be accomplished, the following may help in preplanning for these unusual rescue situations. Pre-planning for rescue in these situations must answer several questions.
Ground grids provide a fundamental safety feature in substations and should be tested periodically. Unfortunately, some are approaching 100 years old and haven’t been tested in many years.
Use of arc suppression blankets can help reduce arc flash/blast injuries. When properly installed, arc suppression blankets absorb or deflect heat and blast energy emitted from an arc event, reducing the event's impact on workers.