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iPi Monthly Forum for Utility Professionals

The iPi monthly forum is where you can get answers to questions you have from subject matter experts like David McPeak, Jim Vaughn, Danny Raines and other utility safety and ops professionals like yourself. Forums will include industry specific topics, challenges, trends, and solutions along with best practices in leadership, operations, and safety.

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KNOWLEDGE, INSIGHT AND STRATEGY FOR UTILITY SAFETY & OPS PROFESSIONALS

For excellence to become a reality, these capacities must be developed, monitored and synergized.
Does your organization have the capacity to achieve sustainable excellence in safety performance and culture? For excellence to become a reality in any important area of operations, especially safety, there are five vital capacities that organizations must develop, monitor and synergize to adapt and thrive in a fast-paced and ever-changing world: system, leadership, engagement, cultural […]

More News…


Richardson April May 2024 article
The new initiative being rolled out by one utility contractor aims to improve safety by increasing engagement among crew members.

An Experiment in Crew Member Engagement

KeelingApril-May-24
Training is an essential component of safely operating and maintaining these machines.

Skid-Steer Loaders: Hazard Awareness and Recommended Safety Practices



Here are five topics to consider integrating into your team’s protective garment training.

FR/AR Apparel Use: Are Your Workers Properly Trained?

Many workers in the utilities space bravely put their personal safety at risk every day on the job. Facing potential hazards such as arc flashes, flash fires and unpredictable elements of nature, these workers’ personal protective equipment – particularly their garments – is their last line of defense. However, proper apparel use can sometimes be overlooked or deprioritized, putting workers at …
Few utility businesses currently meet all of the transformational ESG requirements, placing them at odds with the future of work.

ESG: Health and Safety Obstacle or Opportunity?

Over the past few years, much has been written and discussed about the role of environmental, social and governance, commonly referred to as ESG. Investors and customers are increasingly applying these nonfinancial factors as part of their analysis process to identify material risks and growth opportunities in the companies they decide to invest in. According to research from the Weinreb Group,…

Ruling Spans and Proper Conductor Sag

The cold winter weather of recent months has prompted many conversations about proper sagging and tension on transmission and distribution conductors. Improper sagging and excessively high tension on conductors – past their rated breaking strength – have caused unscheduled system outages, but suc…

Switching and Tagging

Discipline is one of the many things that have served our industry well. Decades before OSHA was established by the Williams-Steiger Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, our industry already had disciplined procedures for switching, controlling and tagging circuits. When OSHA began to esta…
The practice of receiving feedback will make you better at giving it.

Receiving Feedback

Most leadership development programs talk about the vital skill of giving feedback, as they should. I hope you’ve been trained on coaching and feedback and that you practice and enhance those skills frequently. But what about receiving feedback? That is another skill that can be learned, pract…

April – May 2024 Q&A

Q: We recently participated in a safety seminar during which OSHA’s digger derrick/crane exemption was discussed. We have used the exemption with digger derricks to raise baskets of travelers to pole-tops for wire-pulling installation. Are we in compliance if we are not using a certified crane op…

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This educational technique is ideally suited as a resource for those wanting to improve the effectiveness of safety training.

Getting to the Heart of At-Risk Behaviors with Facilitative Learning

In a recent workshop with a client in southeast Louisiana, a breakout session reached a tipping point. The rhythmic flow of dialogue among the seven supervisors in the group found an unscripted but purposeful path of its own. The task given to the group involved identifying at-risk behaviors or s…
Lineworkers must use the four lifesaving rules for zero contact to protect themselves.

Solar Backfeed Safety on Distribution and Secondary Circuits

Editor’s Note: This timely article specifically addresses the contemporary issue of green-energy backfeed endangering power-line workers. Unlike engine-powered backup generators, green energy makes no telltale noise to alert workers to its presence and possible hazards. Incident Prevention encour…
For excellence to become a reality, these capacities must be developed, monitored and synergized.

Five Core Capacities for Sustainable Safety Excellence

Does your organization have the capacity to achieve sustainable excellence in safety performance and culture? For excellence to become a reality in any important area of operations, especially safety, there are five vital capacities that organizations must develop, monitor and synergize to ada…
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Safety Management


Five-Core-Capacities

Five Core Capacities for Sustainable Safety Excellence

Does your organization have the capacity to achieve sustainable excellence in safety performance and culture? For excellence to become a reality in any important area of operations, especially safety, there are five vital capacities that organizations must develop, monitor and synergize to ada…
Richardson April May 2024 article

An Experiment in Crew Member Engagement

I don’t talk about myself a lot – I listen. I developed this skill after taking on a leadership position with a utility contractor in an industry I knew nothing about. My work history prior to this role included management in pretty much every industry except utilities. In each of my previous …

Getting to the Heart of At-Risk Behaviors with Facilitative Learning

In a recent workshop with a client in southeast Louisiana, a breakout session reached a tipping point. The rhythmic flow of dialogue among the seven supervisors in the group found an unscripted but purposeful path of its own. The task given to the group involved identifying at-risk behaviors or s…

ESG: Health and Safety Obstacle or Opportunity?

Over the past few years, much has been written and discussed about the role of environmental, social and governance, commonly referred to as ESG. Investors and customers are increasingly applying these nonfinancial factors as part of their analysis process to identify material risks and growth op…
Richardson April May 2024 article
The new initiative being rolled out by one utility contractor aims to improve safety by increasing engagement among crew members.

An Experiment in Crew Member Engagement

I don’t talk about myself a lot – I listen. I developed this skill after taking on a leadership position with a utility contractor in an industry I knew nothing about. My work history prior to this role included management in pretty much every industry except utilities. In each of my previous …
This educational technique is ideally suited as a resource for those wanting to improve the effectiveness of safety training.

Getting to the Heart of At-Risk Behaviors with Facilitative Learning

In a recent workshop with a client in southeast Louisiana, a breakout session reached a tipping point. The rhythmic flow of dialogue among the seven supervisors in the group found an unscripted but purposeful path of its own. The task given to the group involved identifying at-risk behaviors or s…
Few utility businesses currently meet all of the transformational ESG requirements, placing them at odds with the future of work.

ESG: Health and Safety Obstacle or Opportunity?

Over the past few years, much has been written and discussed about the role of environmental, social and governance, commonly referred to as ESG. Investors and customers are increasingly applying these nonfinancial factors as part of their analysis process to identify material risks and growth op…
This educational technique is ideally suited as a resource for those wanting to improve the effectiveness of safety training.

Getting to the Heart of At-Risk Behaviors with Facilitative Learning

In a recent workshop with a client in southeast Louisiana, a breakout session reached a tipping point. The rhythmic flow of dialogue among the seven supervisors in the group found an unscripted but purposeful path of its own. The task given to the group involved identifying at-risk behaviors or s…
This educational technique is ideally suited as a resource for those wanting to improve the effectiveness of safety training.

Getting to the Heart of At-Risk Behaviors with Facilitative Learning

In a recent workshop with a client in southeast Louisiana, a breakout session reached a tipping point. The rhythmic flow of dialogue among the seven supervisors in the group found an unscripted but purposeful path of its own. The task given to the group involved identifying at-risk behaviors or shortcuts likely …
Few utility businesses currently meet all of the transformational ESG requirements, placing them at odds with the future of work.

ESG: Health and Safety Obstacle or Opportunity?

Over the past few years, much has been written and discussed about the role of environmental, social and governance, commonly referred to as ESG. Investors and customers are increasingly applying these nonfinancial factors as part of their analysis process to identify material risks and growth op…
A simple change in language can lead to more productive incident investigations – and fewer incidents overall.

Pattern Disruption: Don’t Start with ‘Why’

In the northern latitudes, Mother Nature is deeply vested in a cycle of pattern disruption. The four seasons change the ecosystems and habitats. As the seasons shift in New York, the lake that I live on moves from a warm thermocline with colder layers on the bottom and warmer water on top to the …
boutwell starner article
The need for professional development is crucial for workers who will assume leadership roles.

Nurturing Strong Leadership: An Approach to Professional Development in Skilled Trades

Strong leadership is essential for the success and well-being of a company. Effective leaders play a vital role in setting the course, motivating employees, fostering a positive work culture and making critical decisions that steer the organization toward its goals. In our industry, leaders fa…

Worksite Safety


Solar Backfeed Safety on Distribution and Secondary Circuits

Editor’s Note: This timely article specifically addresses the contemporary issue of green-energy backfeed endangering power-line workers. Unlike engine-powered backup generators, green energy makes no telltale noise to alert workers to its presence and possible hazards. Incident Prevention encour…
Richardson April May 2024 article

An Experiment in Crew Member Engagement

I don’t talk about myself a lot – I listen. I developed this skill after taking on a leadership position with a utility contractor in an industry I knew nothing about. My work history prior to this role included management in pretty much every industry except utilities. In each of my previous …
KeelingApril-May-24

Skid-Steer Loaders: Hazard Awareness and Recommended Safety Practices

In 2009, OSHA published a safety and health information bulletin in part because of the seriousness of injuries that have occurred with skid-steer loaders (see www.osha.gov/sites/default/files/publications/shib011209.pdf). Similarly, NIOSH published an alert in December 2010 in response to the ha…

FR/AR Apparel Use: Are Your Workers Properly Trained?

Many workers in the utilities space bravely put their personal safety at risk every day on the job. Facing potential hazards such as arc flashes, flash fires and unpredictable elements of nature, these workers’ personal protective equipment – particularly their garments – is their last line of de…
Richardson April May 2024 article
The new initiative being rolled out by one utility contractor aims to improve safety by increasing engagement among crew members.

An Experiment in Crew Member Engagement

I don’t talk about myself a lot – I listen. I developed this skill after taking on a leadership position with a utility contractor in an industry I knew nothing about. My work history prior to this role included management in pretty much every industry except utilities. In each of my previous …
KeelingApril-May-24
Training is an essential component of safely operating and maintaining these machines.

Skid-Steer Loaders: Hazard Awareness and Recommended Safety Practices

In 2009, OSHA published a safety and health information bulletin in part because of the seriousness of injuries that have occurred with skid-steer loaders (see www.osha.gov/sites/default/files/publications/shib011209.pdf). Similarly, NIOSH published an alert in December 2010 in response to the ha…
Here are five topics to consider integrating into your team’s protective garment training.

FR/AR Apparel Use: Are Your Workers Properly Trained?

Many workers in the utilities space bravely put their personal safety at risk every day on the job. Facing potential hazards such as arc flashes, flash fires and unpredictable elements of nature, these workers’ personal protective equipment – particularly their garments – is their last line of de…

Expand Pre-Job Briefings to Include Your Hydro-Excavator Partners

Editor’s Note: This month’s Tailgate Topic has timely advice to ensure crews working with unknown subcontractors are kept safe. Remember that OSHA requires those subcontractors to be qualified for the assigned task and that their employer is responsible for their safety. Having subcontractors observe and participate in a line crew’s tailboard is a good way to help them ensure safety without directly supervising their work practices. Most state’s dig laws restrict the use of mechanized equipment within specified tolerance zones of buried utilities. Because of these laws, hydro-excavation …
Phillip Ramey II
Phillip Ramey II

Do You Really Care?

As EHS professionals, we may scoff at first when a worker asks us, “Seriously, do you really care about what I’m doing?” But this question has a much deeper meaning than you may think. In our day-to-day activities, much of the relationship building and many of the general discussions fall to s…
John Fischer
John Fischer

Fighting PPE Complacency

In the fast-paced world of utility work, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking, “This is just a quick job” or “I’ve done this a thousand times.” These thoughts can lead to complacency and poor decision-making around proper personal protective equipment use, including flame-resistant and arc…
Scott Francis
Scott Francis

The practice of receiving feedback will make you better at giving it.

Receiving Feedback

Most leadership development programs talk about the vital skill of giving feedback, as they should. I hope you’ve been trained on coaching and feedback and that you practice and enhance those skills frequently. But what about receiving feedback? That is another skill that can be learned, pract…
Combine pre-job briefings, two-minute drills and post-job briefings to make job briefings an ongoing process.

Game-Planning for Safety

Given a relatively equal amount of talent on both sides, the sports TEAM (Together Everyone Accomplishes More) with the best game plan will likely win. Examining what champions – especially those that create dynasties – do well provides us with insight into achieving excellence in safety. …

Personal protective equipment should always be used and never be needed.

The Art of Safety – A New Hierarchy

Given the predictable nature of hazards, how and why do incidents occur? Think about this: If I know the winning numbers ahead of a lottery drawing, it’s simple for me to be 100% successful at winning the lottery money. So, if we know how hazards are going to act and how they cause harm, why aren…
We must value safety and make protecting ourselves and others our primary goal for every task we perform.

The Art of Safety – Unnormalizing Deviation

Given the predictable nature of hazards, how and why do incidents occur? Think about this: If I know the winning numbers ahead of a lottery drawing, it’s simple for me to be 100% successful at winning the lottery money. So, if we know how hazards are going to act and how they cause harm, why aren…

Ruling Spans and Proper Conductor Sag

The cold winter weather of recent months has prompted many conversations about proper sagging and tension on transmission and distribution conductors. Improper sagging and excessively high tension on conductors – past their rated breaking strength – have caused unscheduled system outages, but suc…

Determining Reasonable Energy Estimates

During a recent audit at a utility, it was discovered that the method used to determine incident heat energy was not appropriate for the utility’s application. Discussions with other utilities and subject matter experts indicate that the methods to determine the amount of exposure are challenging…

Understanding and Preventing Ferroresonance

Ferroresonance is a term and condition not often heard about in electric utility work. Nonetheless, it’s important to know about ferroresonance because it is an immensely hazardous condition that can result in arc flash injuries and damaged equipment. The Electrical Engineering Portal offers t…

Understanding Task-Specific Training

If an employer must defend their company in the event of an incident or accident, training records are a critical tool. There is nothing better to present during an OSHA investigation or a civil tort liability case than documented training records and annual reviews of the proficiency demonstrati…

Q&A

April – May 2024 Q&A

Q: We recently participated in a safety seminar during which OSHA’s digger derrick/crane exemption was discussed. We have used the exemption with digger derricks to raise baskets of travelers to pole-tops for wire-pulling installation. Are we in compliance if we are not using a certified crane operator for this work? A: Our interpretation of the OSHA rule indicates that your use of the digge…

February – March 2024 Q&A

Q: We were driving ground rods with a hammer drill for a switch pad on a construction site when OSHA inspected the site. OSHA was there to see the general contractor, but they cited our crew for not using a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) where we were plugged into the site’s construction temporary. That brought up these questions: Why GFCI? What does GFCI do and how does it work? A:…