To be absolutely clear – there is an arc hazard in the utility workplace. There is also a need for protecting employees with arc protective clothing. If you are responsible for hazard mediation, you should have an arc protection program or at least a plan to begin a program. Regularly, people call me and ask what they should do about NFPA 70E: Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace; and therein lies the problem. NFPA 70E is not the solution to utility arc flash hazards.
We all know the data. Typically, one third to one half of our field injuries are musculoskeletal disorders such as strains and sprains, rotator cuff syndrome, lower back disorders and tendonitis. Workers’ compensation costs for these injuries far exceed those for acute incidents such as burns, cuts and even fractures.
Choosing the correct fall protection equipment for climbing transmission structures
Despite the economic downturn, the wind energy industry is growing rapidly and establishing itself as a prominent, sustainable solution that will help generate enough power to help meet current and future demands for renewable energy. Global leaders recognize that wind power can and will be one of the largest sources of new electricity generation. The United States is taking a strong position in this industry; the Obama administration is supporting wind power with an aggressive renewable energy stimulus to back it financially and foster continued growth within the industry.
The Department of Labor, Bureau of Statistics, says tower climbers have “the most dangerous job in America.” Steve Fleming, Director of Antenna & Tower Training at Safety One International (www.SafetyOneInc.com), says that on average accidents on towers and cranes lead to 25 deaths per year. Fleming further suggested that close to 80 percent of the deaths at communication towers over the period of 1992-2001 were attributed to falls.
Two standards are needed to specify clothing for high visibility and flame resistance. Most companies in the U.S. choose ANSI 107 (for high visibility) and ASTM F1506 (for flame-resistance clothing complying with NFPA 70E or OSHA 1910.269). Citing both means you will have clothing (shirts and vests primarily) that are highly visible and arc- and flash-fire resistant. However, the flame-resistance side is often a weakness because of manufacturers or marketers who push “flame-resistant” standards that are misleading or outright deceptive.
Beyond information peculiar to technical crafts, every person who enters a substation has a common need to understand substation grounding. This includes things to look for that might indicate problems in the station’s grounding system.
Substation grounding plays the primary role in several key aspects of fault clearing, equipment preservation and, most importantly, personnel protection as well as protection of the passing public. In fact, if the ground grid in a station were not in place, anyone standing next to a breaker that operates stands a good chance of being shocked, if not killed.
Many utility companies are focusing on zero injuries and their efforts have been paying off, with fewer employees are getting hurt. This is attributed to an arsenal of things such as meaningful safety meetings, applying injury prevention theories, ergonomic tools, detailed job briefings and many other proactive safety actions. If you are lucky enough to work for such a company, you should be proud of yourself and your fellow employees and continue to strive for zero injuries.
It’s a warm summer day in San Diego. The temperature is 85 degrees, the relative humidity is 30 percent, and winds are out of the west at 10 to 15 miles per hour. A utility crew from San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) is performing maintenance on a broken cross-arm on a wooden 69-kilovolt transmission pole. Suddenly, a phase-to-phase contact causes a shower of sparks, igniting the dry grass below. The fire grows quickly and blackens several square feet of grass around the pole. A crew from SDG&E’s wildfire contractor, Fire Stop, has been working next to the utility crew. As a precaution, the Fire Stop crew had already positioned a dry hose line within 25 feet of where the fire started and had placed firefighting hand tools and a dry chemical extinguisher nearby.
Hydraulic tools and equipment have come a long way over the past several decades and even over the last several years. Utilities and many other industries rely on hydraulic tools, equipment and systems to get the job done. Getting the job done is always a big concern, but the priority should always be on getting the job done safely.