Jim Vaughn, CUSP
Lineworkers and bighorn sheep share many similarities. Both spend lots of time at height, often in precarious positions. Both are particularly outfitted for their respective specialties – the sheep by nature, the lineworker by technology – to ascend to great height inaccessible to those lesser equipped. Both possess unique skills and emotional constitutions to function in an environment that would make most people dizzy.
I suspect that in the past 20 years the utility industry has grounded more circuits for the protection of employees than were ever grounded in the first 115 years of utility operations. Judging from the number of serious incidents and hazardous conditions created by temporarily grounding systems, it seems that we may not have understood all of the issues. It's almost intuitive; grounding makes the work safer, but for whom?
You have read and heard about all of the related standards for arc flash protection and you still don't have a program or even a plan for a program, right? In this installment of “Train the Trainer 101,” I will sift through the rules so you can begin a practical approach to creating an effective and compliant program. Obviously, we want to protect employees and well-developed programs accomplish that, but this article primarily focuses on the administrative side of compliance.
While the use of man baskets mounted on cranes is common to the utility transmission construction industry, it will surprise many that OSHA has clearly established their premise that cranes are designed to lift loads – not people – and that hoisting personnel with a crane is inherently more dangerous than using equipment designed to lift personnel. For this reason, it is important that safety planners and crews understand OSHA's intentions for crane-mounted baskets and the issues associated with their use. The crane and derrick standard regulates lifting of personnel, both in a crane-mounted basket and on a suspended platform. OSHA has directly stated that it considers a crane-suspended basket the same as a crane boom tip-mounted basket for the reason stated above (29 CFR 1926.1400 Subpart CC Preamble, page 48035).
Following is a treatment of the complex subject of enclosed space rescue and it's a lot of information. I would like to just tell you what to do, but there is no single solution. Your background understanding of the relative standards, interpretations and directives is necessary for you as trainers and administrators to mount an effective enclosed space program.
Ferroresonance is a complicated issue. It is important to familiarize crews with ferroresonance because as the number of URD systems installed increases and as systems age, the incidence of ferroresonance increases and so does the threat to equipment, service reliability and, most importantly, the safety of workers and customers.
A hazard is essentially a condition or activity that, if left uncontrolled, may result in an accident or a serious injury. To effectively identify hazards, the observer must develop a means of recognizing a hazard exposure. What I see repeatedly in the field are hazard lists like “wear PPE, stay out of the bite, watch for cars, cover up well.” What I don’t see is an effective approach to identifying hazards. I had occasion to investigate a 4-kV contact in a metal-clad breaker where the worker brushed his hand against a control power transformer that had not been identified or tested. For three days he had his head in the cabinet, unaware that the primary leads for the transformer had been moved from the load side to the high side of the breaker contacts. For three days his pre-job hazard analysis entries included “check for voltage.” He survived, but not because of his hazard analysis.
Seat belt use – or the lack of seat belt use – continues to be an issue on the road and on our job sites. It is obvious that some of our employees and even some of our supervisors don’t get it. Seat belt use is a mandatory Department of Transportation safety rule and it does not matter whether the truck is used on a roadway or right-of-way. OSHA 1926.601, which covers vehicles that operate within an off-highway job site, requires seat belts. If the legal argument is not convincing, maybe statistics will be. Not coincidentally, states with the highest crash fatality rates also rate low in seat belt use.
In the May/June 2005 issue of Incident Prevention the cover article, "Why Single-Point Grounding Works," generated a lot of inquires about single-point worksite grounding in underground installations. The most frequently asked question was, "How do we create an equipotential zone for underground worksites?" I received inquiries from California to Maine, North Dakota to Florida. There were so many that IP asked if I could immediately address underground protective grounding for employees in this issue.