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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

Launched in 2020, the clearinghouse is a centralized database that stores near real-time data about commercial drivers’ drug and alcohol violations.
Slipping through the cracks has become much more difficult for drivers with the 2020 implementation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.  The following scenario paints a picture of how easy it once was for commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders who violated the FMCSA drug and alcohol testing regulations to […]

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When combined with a field skills training program, online training can speed skill development. 

Using a Learning Management System to Augment Lineworker Training

Practicing rescue scenarios helps to identify areas of weakness and improves worker response when the real thing occurs.

The Case for Enhanced First-Aid Training for Lineworkers


Data from one utility company’s recent training initiative indicates that positive feedback helped to improve safety, collaboration and productivity.

Does Positive Feedback Improve Safety?

Our client is an international utility company with more than 10,000 employees that provides electric and natural gas to 20 million U.S. customers. Their vision is to achieve a generative safety culture in which both employees and leaders are actively engaged. Characteristics of a generative safe…

Maximize worker protection while minimizing the risks of heat- and cold-related illnesses.

Mitigating Heat and Cold Stress with FR/AR Clothing

Within the utility industry, employers have long looked to flame-resistant (FR) and arc-rated (AR) garments to help protect workers from injury due to flash fire and arc flash. Because these garments are designed using specially engineered, self-extinguishing fabrics and are certified to rigorous testing standards, they can help prevent or lessen the severity of injury. Utilizing FR/AR garments as part of a comprehensive personal protective equipment program is also one of the ways employers can meet OSHA’s mandate to provide workers with employment and a place of employment that are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.
Are your workers prepared to perform a rescue when the time comes?

Best Practices for Bucket Truck Rescue

Bucket trucks are among the most frequently used pieces of equipment in a utility’s fleet. Because of the common use of the trucks, it becomes easy for operators to become complacent in their equipment, inspection, operation and rescue plan – often defaulting to the last job safety analysis with limited consideration for the task at hand and the work environment. In a frequent scenario, one of Colorado’s electric utility contractors was issued an urgent service ticket. The lineman assigned to the job had years of experience and assumed this task would be much like the hundreds of closed service tickets in his past. Due to time constraints, time of day and ease of repair, he set off solo to complete his mission. Upon arriving at the scene, the lineman quickly surveyed the work site, went about his pre-use inspection and then got to work in the bucket. After completing the task, he found the upper controls of his truck to be non-functional. The lone worker made several attempts to operate the truck using the upper controls, but he was unsuccessful. He then surveyed his options, only to discover the bucket bailout kit issued for his truck was missing. Fortunately, he was reasonably near the yard and able to contact dispatch, which sent a crew and a mechanic to his remote location. After an hour or so, the second crew arrived on the scene and were able to successfully lower the bucket to ground level. Everyone made it home safely with no lasting effects – aside from a story and a learning opportunity. Although the scenario above ended without damage to individuals or property, the consequences could have been far worse. Many factors were in the lineman’s favor, including good weather, adequate cellphone/radio coverage, no medical concerns and no additional hazards (e.g., fire, aggressive animals). Had any of these issues been present, the outcome could have been entirely different, especially with the lack of available rescue options. Naturally, the best rescue scenario is the one that never exists. In this case, a thorough pre-trip inspection and function test likely would have identified any failing controls or other potential problems with the truck before it was put into service. Further, the checklist associated with bucket truck inspection should always include a section for appropriate rescue equipment. Workers should ensure all rescue components are present on the truck assigned to them, and those components should be tested in advance to confirm proper function. Workers must also be trained on the correct use of the equipment prior to using it in the field. Additionally, in a perfect world, a second properly trained and authorized lineworker would have been assigned to this job and could have taken control of the aerial work platform, safely bringing the first worker to ground level. Two Types of Rescue When it comes to bucket truck rescue, scenarios typically fall into two broad categories: self-rescue and assisted rescue. Self-rescue can be further broken down into rescue from an incapacitated bucket or rescue after a fall. An incapacitated bucket is often caused due to failure of a mechanical, hydraulic or control system. A fall rescue is often required after some form of unanticipated sudden movement of the aerial work platform, frequently caused by a faulty outrigger, a failed hydraulic system or a vehicle collision that involves the equipment in service. Successful rescue is predicated on preparation, product selection and training. Training When it comes to selecting rescue equipment, it is critical that all equipment meets your company’s and the industry’s standards, including those outlined in ANSI Z359.4, “Safety Requirements for Assisted-Rescue and Self-Rescue Systems, Subsystems and Components.” It is also imperative that all users receive formal training specific to the equipment used by your company. At a minimum, the training program should include information about system requirements, inspection criteria, proper use, limits of use and hazard considerations. It is important that the employer documents the specific details of the training, including the names and roles of the participants as well as some type of skills evaluation, either in the form of a written test or a practical demonstration of user ability. This documentation can be as simple as papers in a folder, or it can be administered through a variety of software packages. Additionally, any reputable third-party training company will document this information on the employer’s behalf. Safety training should be delivered by qualified individuals and developed in accordance with ANSI Z490.1, “Criteria for Accepted Practices in Safety, Health and Environmental Training,” which provides the framework for repeatable delivery, student feedback and development. Further, training must follow manufacturer recommendations for installation, use and effects on other systems. Rescue Equipment Rescue equipment put into service should be tailored to the environment it is going to be used in, especially if the operator expects to work in hot environments. It is also necessary for company leadership to determine if the rescue devices will be considered part of an employee’s personal protective equipment or issued to the vehicle. Rescue devices issued to the vehicle should be clearly identified, inspected before and after the truck is used, and inspected periodically by a competent person outside of the normal user. Self-rescue or bailout kits are available from several manufacturers. Regardless of what you choose, training and demonstration are required for the potential users – whether the kits or gear is issued to the trucks or individual workers. Keep in mind the gear will be useful for self-evacuation from an incapacitated bucket but of little use after a fall unless attached to the operator’s harness prior to the fall. A fall from a structure or an ejection from an elevated bucket truck is likely to be one of the most terrifying experiences of an operator’s life – and one that is difficult to prepare for. Manufacturers such as Bashlin, DBI-SALA, Sterling Rope, Petzl and Honeywell Miller offer a variety of components and kits that can be employed for self-rescue or attended rescue. So, there are options for a lone worker to safely navigate to the ground after experiencing such an event. A device unique in its design and function is the BuckEscape by Buckingham Manufacturing. It incorporates a descender, a web ladder and an ancillary D-ring for use as a descent line anchor point, all packed into an integrated storage pouch. The pouch is part of the lanyard connection between the lineworker’s harness and the anchor in the bucket truck. The web ladder allows a conscious user to delay the onset of suspension trauma by deploying the ladder and unweighting their leg loops. Additionally, this system allows the user to anchor a pre-rigged “anti-panic” descender. After fall arrest, the lanyard then becomes a self-rescue kit for the worker to transition from the fall arrest device and make a controlled descent to ground level. Alternatively, a lone worker could opt to carry a rope ladder or other after-fall self-rescue ladder, which allows a conscious victim to stand in the system and unweight their leg loops, thus delaying the onset of suspension trauma. This could also allow the worker to re-enter the bucket from an elevated position. In the former scenario, a second worker (or a rescuer) would be required to safely lower the aerial work platform to the ground, making it an assisted rescue. Two is Better than One It is considered a best practice to prevent workers from working solo. This practice allows for the primary worker to be lowered to ground level if they become incapacitated due to a medical emergency or another unforeseen issue, or if the bucket controls become nonresponsive. In such a case, the second worker manually takes control of the system and uses the lower controls to bring the primary worker to the ground. Provided the primary worker is conscious and physically able to extricate themselves from the bucket, they can seek medical attention as needed. In the event the primary worker is unconscious, it becomes important to have the functionality to physically lift them from the bucket for transport to emergency medical services. This can be accomplished using a high-point anchor and a manual mechanical advantage haul system like a 4:1 or 6:1, which reduces the hauling effort by approximately one-quarter or one-sixth, respectively. Several manufacturers offer rescue systems that are pre-installed and ready for use or installed when needed. These rescue devices attach to the boom of a bucket. Other vendors offer standalone block-and-tackle setups that can be used from a variety of suitable anchorages. Industry best practices dictate that each operator should be familiar with each of these systems, their proper use and the required components, in addition to performing an annual skills demonstration. Conclusion With the proliferation of bucket trucks in the utility industry, it is essential that each company’s leadership review anticipated work environments, crew sizes and expected hazards, and that they select equipment best suited to their applications. With proper training, inspection and work policies, it becomes more likely that work activities will take place with a crew of at least two authorized, competent lineworkers. And in the event that a lone worker experiences a system failure, with enough foresight, they will be prepared to effectively navigate this scenario with the equipment on hand. About the Author: Ty Fenton is the general manger of Safety One Training, the U.S. leader in backcountry vehicle operation and fall protection training. He can be reached at ty.fenton@safetyoneinc.com.

August – September 2022 Q&A

Q: Is it ever OK to put a man basket on a crane? My understanding is that OSHA 1926.1400, “Cranes and Derricks in Construction,” states doing so is prohibited.   A: For our readers, the rule you are referring to is 29 CFR 1926.1431(a), which begins, “The use of equipment to hoist employees is pr…
The book offers significant insight into what a successful safety program looks like.

From My Bookshelf to Yours: ‘The 8 Habits of a Highly Effective Safety Culture’

Not long ago, Utility Business Media Inc. published my book, “Frontline Leadership: The Hurdle.” Researching and writing the book helped me learn to appreciate and apply knowledge and wisdom from other writers. In this article, I want to share some highlights from “The 8 Habits of a Highly Effect…

June – July 2022 Q&A

Q: Why does grounding alone not prevent static discharges, and why don’t we have to ground all flammable dispensing drums and stations? A: “Flammable” is a relative term, and some of the written standards are detailed to the point that they can be confusing. The best thing any facility can do …

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These rules apply when tasks are performed near live parts.

Mechanical Equipment Rules for Qualified Workers

Workers performing tasks involving mechanical equipment near energized power lines and equipment have exposure to hazardous step and touch potentials. In the preamble to OSHA 29 CFR 1910.269 and 1926 Subpart V, the agency describes 19 fatalities that involved derrick trucks, aerial lifts and othe…

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BECOME A BETTER LEADER

Frontline Leadership – The Hurdle

Utility Business Media, Inc. publisher of Incident Prevention Magazine is excited to announce the publication of Frontline Leadership – The Hurdle and Frontline Incident Prevention – The Hurdle both written by David McPeak, Director of Professional Development for Incident Prevention InstitutE (iPi).

These books are based on iPi’s popular Frontline leadership training program and are a must read for utility industry leaders. Learn More

Frontline Incident Prevention – The Hurdle

This book is your essential how-to guide on recognizing hurdles and developing effective run-ups to soar over them. You’ll learn how to lead and protect people rather than manage robots. You’ll also learn critical lessons about self-reliance and risk tolerance that culminate in proper application of the hierarchy of controls. Reading and applying the insights from this book will make you, your team, and your organization safer.

iPi have taken it a step further.  You can add The Art of Safety course and downloadable workbook to your experience.  Find out more more about this course – The Art of Safety

Learn to understand, lead, develop, and protect people.

That is the Art of Safety!

June – July 2022 Q&A

Q: Why does grounding alone not prevent static discharges, and why don’t we have to ground all flammable dispensing drums and stations? A: “Flammable” is a relative term, and some of the written standards are detailed to the point that they can be confusing. The best thing any facility can do …
To achieve the next step change in safety, we must ultimately change how employees feel about at-risk behaviors.

Beyond Behavior-Based Safety: Why Traditional Safety Practices are No Longer Enough

Traditional safety management practices are built on the assumption that human behavior is rational and occurs primarily through conscious decision-making. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are, in fact, irrational by nature, creatures of habit and deeply influenced by past experiences….
Launched in 2020, the clearinghouse is a centralized database that stores near real-time data about commercial drivers’ drug and alcohol violations.

Closing the Cracks with the FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

Slipping through the cracks has become much more difficult for drivers with the 2020 implementation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.  The following scenario paints a picture of how easy it once was for commercial driver’s license (CDL) …
Featured Products

Hot-Stick Probe

Utility Solutions Inc. has introduced an all-new hot-stick probe. The release features the new Fuzzy Finger, which offers the functionality of a standard hot-stick finger with the added utility of securely holding most standard fuse barrels available on the market. According to the company, th…

Safety Management


Closing the Cracks with the FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

Slipping through the cracks has become much more difficult for drivers with the 2020 implementation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.  The following scenario paints a picture of how easy it once was for commercial driver’s license (CDL) …

Beyond Behavior-Based Safety: Why Traditional Safety Practices are No Longer Enough

Traditional safety management practices are built on the assumption that human behavior is rational and occurs primarily through conscious decision-making. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are, in fact, irrational by nature, creatures of habit and deeply influenced by past experiences….

Mitigating Heat and Cold Stress with FR/AR Clothing

Within the utility industry, employers have long looked to flame-resistant (FR) and arc-rated (AR) garments to help protect workers from injury due to flash fire and arc flash. Because these garments are designed using specially engineered, self-extinguishing fabrics and are certified to rigorous…

Designing a Safe and Reliable Electrical Maintenance Program

The critical importance of power to every aspect of our world cannot be overexaggerated. It must be generated and distributed effectively to end users, and any disruption in that process means loss of operations, money and, in extreme cases, life. Therefore, the reliability of power creation and …
To achieve the next step change in safety, we must ultimately change how employees feel about at-risk behaviors.

Beyond Behavior-Based Safety: Why Traditional Safety Practices are No Longer Enough

Traditional safety management practices are built on the assumption that human behavior is rational and occurs primarily through conscious decision-making. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are, in fact, irrational by nature, creatures of habit and deeply influenced by past experiences….
Maximize worker protection while minimizing the risks of heat- and cold-related illnesses.

Mitigating Heat and Cold Stress with FR/AR Clothing

Within the utility industry, employers have long looked to flame-resistant (FR) and arc-rated (AR) garments to help protect workers from injury due to flash fire and arc flash. Because these garments are designed using specially engineered, self-extinguishing fabrics and are certified to rigorous…
Begin the process by adopting a monitor-inspect-manage approach.

Designing a Safe and Reliable Electrical Maintenance Program

The critical importance of power to every aspect of our world cannot be overexaggerated. It must be generated and distributed effectively to end users, and any disruption in that process means loss of operations, money and, in extreme cases, life. Therefore, the reliability of power creation and …
To achieve the next step change in safety, we must ultimately change how employees feel about at-risk behaviors.

Beyond Behavior-Based Safety: Why Traditional Safety Practices are No Longer Enough

Traditional safety management practices are built on the assumption that human behavior is rational and occurs primarily through conscious decision-making. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are, in fact, irrational by nature, creatures of habit and deeply influenced by past experiences….
To achieve the next step change in safety, we must ultimately change how employees feel about at-risk behaviors.

Beyond Behavior-Based Safety: Why Traditional Safety Practices are No Longer Enough

Traditional safety management practices are built on the assumption that human behavior is rational and occurs primarily through conscious decision-making. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are, in fact, irrational by nature, creatures of habit and deeply influenced by past experiences. To create the n…
When combined with a field skills training program, online training can speed skill development. 

Using a Learning Management System to Augment Lineworker Training

“You can’t learn how to climb a pole by looking at a computer screen.”  That’s a sentence that has been repeatedly used in our industry to discredit web-based learning. And it’s true; in any skilled trade, neither distance learning nor classroom work alone can replace the skills and confidence g…
Data from one utility company’s recent training initiative indicates that positive feedback helped to improve safety, collaboration and productivity.

Does Positive Feedback Improve Safety?

Our client is an international utility company with more than 10,000 employees that provides electric and natural gas to 20 million U.S. customers. Their vision is to achieve a generative safety culture in which both employees and leaders are actively engaged. Characteristics of a generative safe…
Once you’ve identified why workers aren’t following the safety rules, use these strategies to help them comply.

‘But I Don’t Wanna’: 6 Sources of Employee Resistance

“I forgot.” “I don’t want to.” “It’s not that serious.” “It won’t happen to me.” If your employees are forgetting, ignoring, pushing back against or actively resisting the protections you’ve put in place to ensure their safety, then you know how frustrating it can be to get them to follow the …

Worksite Safety


The Case for Enhanced First-Aid Training for Lineworkers

Imagine you are working in a remote wilderness area on difficult terrain. The job involves setting poles, running wires, trimming trees, operating heavy machinery and working at elevation in track bucket trucks or hooks on a pole. The potential for serious injury is present, and extrication will …

June – July 2022 Q&A

Q: Why does grounding alone not prevent static discharges, and why don’t we have to ground all flammable dispensing drums and stations? A: “Flammable” is a relative term, and some of the written standards are detailed to the point that they can be confusing. The best thing any facility can do …

Best Practices for Bucket Truck Rescue

Bucket trucks are among the most frequently used pieces of equipment in a utility’s fleet. Because of the common use of the trucks, it becomes easy for operators to become complacent in their equipment, inspection, operation and rescue plan – often defaulting to the last job safety analysis with …

Heat Injury and Illness Prevention: Past, Present and Future

On October 27, 2021, OSHA published in the Federal Register an advance notice of proposed rulemaking for heat injury and illness prevention in outdoor and indoor work settings. This followed OSHA implementing an enforcement initiative on heat-related hazards and the development of a National Emph…

June – July 2022 Q&A

Q: Why does grounding alone not prevent static discharges, and why don’t we have to ground all flammable dispensing drums and stations? A: “Flammable” is a relative term, and some of the written standards are detailed to the point that they can be confusing. The best thing any facility can do …
Are your workers prepared to perform a rescue when the time comes?

Best Practices for Bucket Truck Rescue

Bucket trucks are among the most frequently used pieces of equipment in a utility’s fleet. Because of the common use of the trucks, it becomes easy for operators to become complacent in their equipment, inspection, operation and rescue plan – often defaulting to the last job safety analysis with …
Employers that don’t have an established heat injury and illness prevention program are advised to start organizing the key elements of a program.

Heat Injury and Illness Prevention: Past, Present and Future

On October 27, 2021, OSHA published in the Federal Register an advance notice of proposed rulemaking for heat injury and illness prevention in outdoor and indoor work settings. This followed OSHA implementing an enforcement initiative on heat-related hazards and the development of a National Emph…

90% of Safety Rules are Written for 10% of the People

Ninety percent of all safety rules are written for only 10% of a company’s workers. Now, that is a bold statement, particularly from someone like me, who has been involved in making safety rules for over 30 years. First, let’s take a minute to look at how safety rules have historically been made. Then I will explain my bold statement. In the old days, a company had a group of safety people who developed the rules. I was one of these people who looked for holes in safety and devised potential solutions. We safety people then presented our rules to management. If management agreed with …
Rayford “RL” Grubbs, CUSP
Rayford “RL” Grubbs, CUSP

Simplifying Tasks to Improve Worker Safety

The prevailing wisdom is that experience prepares you for what’s to come – that if we have done something in the past, we are better prepared to handle it when we must do it again. For the most part, I think that is accurate. It is the reason we tell our young children not to touch a hot stove, a…
Jeffrey Sullivan
Jeffrey Sullivan

Powered Industrial Truck Safety

In the utility industry, we use various types of powered industrial trucks – also referred to as PITs and forklifts – to perform various applications. This equipment is used in material handling in warehouse operations as well as in field construction and maintenance operations. Safe operation of…
Charles Keeling, CUSP
Charles Keeling, CUSP

4 Questions for Continuous Improvement

Jesse Hardy, CSP, CIT, CUSP
Jesse Hardy, CSP, CIT, CUSP

Chainsaw Safety Practices for Rights-of-Way

Luis Ortega, CUSP Emeritus
Luis Ortega, CUSP Emeritus

The Rule of Should

Rayford “RL” Grubbs, CUSP
Rayford “RL” Grubbs, CUSP

Plan on Going Home Tonight

Lidia Dilley Jacobson
Lidia Dilley Jacobson
The book offers significant insight into what a successful safety program looks like.

From My Bookshelf to Yours: ‘The 8 Habits of a Highly Effective Safety Culture’

Not long ago, Utility Business Media Inc. published my book, “Frontline Leadership: The Hurdle.” Researching and writing the book helped me learn to appreciate and apply knowledge and wisdom from other writers. In this article, I want to share some highlights from “The 8 Habits of a Highly Effect…
The book teaches leaders to see the ship through the eyes of the crew, communicate purpose and meaning, and listen aggressively.

From My Bookshelf to Yours: ‘It’s Your Ship’

During the research and writing process for my new book – “Frontline Leadership: The Hurdle,” published by Utility Business Media Inc. – I read a lot of books, and I want to share some highlights from a few of my favorites. This article will focus on the bestselling “It’s Your Ship” by Captain D….

Jack Canfield’s book offers 64 principles used by successful people throughout history

From My Bookshelf to Yours: ‘The Success Principles’

During the research and writing process for my new book – “Frontline Leadership: The Hurdle,” published by Utility Business Media Inc. – I read a lot of books, and I want to share some highlights from a few of my favorites. This article will focus on “The Success Principles: How to Get from Where…

From My Bookshelf to Yours: ‘Extreme Ownership’

What actions can you take to solve problems rather than blaming, complaining, defending and denying? During the research and writing process for my new book – “Frontline Leadership: The Hurdle,” published by Utility Business Media Inc. – I read a lot of books, and I want to share some highligh…

The End of a Career

I have been working in the electric utility business as a lineman, supervisor and safety training consultant for a very long time. I am at the point where I am ready to fade away like a light fog on an early summer morning. I dearly love the work, and I have the greatest respect for the utility e…

Installing Fiber-Optic Cable in Electric Supply Spaces

Based on recent social media comments I’ve seen, questions submitted to Incident Prevention magazine and inquiries I’ve personally received, this installment of “Voice of Experience” is going to focus on OSHA and National Electrical Safety Code issues regarding the installation of fiber-optic cab…

System Grounding for Worker Protection Against Induced Voltages

In the last installment of “Voice of Experience,” we reviewed OSHA’s rules for transmission and distribution (T&D) equipment grounding. This time around, we are going to discuss where and how induced voltages occur and, more importantly, how to protect employees from hazards associated wit…

Understanding OSHA’s Rules for T&D Equipment Grounding

There seems to be a question of the month every month. Recently I’ve answered a lot of questions about when and how to ground distribution and transmission equipment, particularly bucket trucks, uninsulated line trucks and cranes. My standard response to those questions is, “What is required by t…

Q&A

August – September 2022 Q&A

Q: Is it ever OK to put a man basket on a crane? My understanding is that OSHA 1926.1400, “Cranes and Derricks in Construction,” states doing so is prohibited.   A: For our readers, the rule you are referring to is 29 CFR 1926.1431(a), which begins, “The use of equipment to hoist employees is prohibited …” The rule goes on to list the basis for exceptions. For line construction, an exception c…

June – July 2022 Q&A

Q: Why does grounding alone not prevent static discharges, and why don’t we have to ground all flammable dispensing drums and stations? A: “Flammable” is a relative term, and some of the written standards are detailed to the point that they can be confusing. The best thing any facility can do is to consult a chemist, chemical engineer or fire science specialist to survey and equip your flamm…
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