Avoid Injury When Lifting and Moving Objects

The foreman looked up and asked, “Jim, how are you feeling today?” Jim limped over and replied, “I’ll be OK, my back just goes out on me from time to time. I hurt it in my 20s, and it’s never been the same since. It comes and goes.” The foreman agreed, “Yeah, we always lifted way too much far too often back then. I wish we could go back in time and change that.

Managing Risk Through Cognitive Impairment Testing

Editor’s Note: Incident Prevention does not condone, promote or recommend manufacturers’ products mentioned in technical articles. The magazine’s editorial advisory board will make exceptions for devices, technology or equipment that is unique in its design or application. The board has found that AlertMeter, mentioned in this article, meets the exception as their research could not find a competitor that offered a similar device. Incident Prevention believes the information provided in this article to be an evolving application in risk prevention and therefore of interest to readers. Incid…

| Lisa Harris |

Establishing a Comprehensive Ergonomics Program During a Pandemic

Austin Energy is the electric utility provider for the rapidly growing city of Austin, Texas. This community-owned, not-for-profit enterprise of the City of Austin employs approximately 1,100 office-based and 600 field-based employees. Employee safety, health and wellness have always been a top priority, and in 2019, Healthworks Ergonomics – the company I co-own – was hired to develop a comprehensive ergonomics program to complement Austin Energy’s existing initiatives.

making workers safer

Are Your Lessons Learned Making Your Workers Safer?

Reports of the incident travel like lightning through the company. There are no real details yet, just a statement that at 10 a.m. today, an employee of The Big City Project was seriously injured on the job. The event soon becomes the subject of coffee break conversations. “We’ve had a lot of serious incidents lately” seems to be the consensus.

Improving Job Briefings

Someone I hold in high regard once said to me, “David, if we can improve our job briefings, we will reduce our injuries by 60%.” I had some hesitation about his statement at the time, and to this day I am not sure I agree with that percentage. But I decidedly do know this: improving job briefings improves safety. I also know that the topic of improving job briefings arises at virtually every education event I am a part of and in conversations regarding almost every incident I’ve heard about. So, what can we do to improve job briefings? For starters, it takes confidence and competence to …

| Jim Vaughn, CUSP |

August-September 2021 Q&A

Q: We have been reading OSHA 29 CFR 1910.269 regarding two-man work, but we cannot find a definition for “routine switching.” We are under the impression that a trained troubleshooter can replace blown fuses in cutouts without a second man. Since it is not specifically mentioned in the exceptions, do we have this wrong? We have old porcelain cutouts on our 4-kV system where you cannot remove the door with a stick and must grab it with your hand, putting the worker within the minimum approach distance of the energized 15-kV overbuild above. This is especially an issue for us at night and in …

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 the OSHA regulations?” I know some people do not like to attempt to read the regulations and interpret their intent, so in this installation of “Voice of Experience,” I’m going to review OSHA 29 CFR 1910.269(p), “Mechanical equipment,” which addresses equipment grounding. Specifically, 1910.269(p)…

Information Transfer: What’s Needed to Protect Affected Workers?

As with all the other articles in this series, when it comes to information transfer, it is important to start with the hazard. Individuals who work on or near electric power lines and equipment face a multitude of potential high-risk electrical hazards. Employers have the responsibility to identify and control known hazards to ensure worker safety. When unknown hazards exist, the level of risk is elevated because workers may not have all the information they need to safely perform their work.

Who is Your Customer?

But first, this public service announcement. Summer is here, and if your organization doesn’t already have a policy on energy drinks, you should do the research and develop one. I had long been skeptical of energy drinks because I know that anything that artificially enhances body function always comes with consequences, especially if it’s overused. It’s no different than any prescription drug that supplants the body’s failed functions. There are always side effects. With heat stress or any other kind of stress, the body gets tired, which is how it tells you that it’s exhausted and needs…

Powerful Safety Messages: Spoken and Silent

In September 1994, my career in safety and human performance had yet to begin. At the time, accepting a temporary position in safety was my way to “get out of Dodge,” which was the Customer Information Center at the local gas utility. Having spent four years as a call center representative and another four as a supervisor in that same call center, I distinctly remember the day that the company’s safety and training manager offered me a temporary opportunity to help rebuild their safety program. He barely had the words out of his mouth – “How would you like to …?” – when I emphatically said …

Battling Invisible Distractions

Over the years, the utility industry has spent countless hours and dollars on worker safety efforts. By now, I think just about everyone reading this Tailgate Topic has attended a safety seminar or meeting where a new concept was explained, a new acronym was released or a new form was rolled out. Personally, my bowl is full of alphabet soup and my file cabinet is full of documents with untold revisions. But what have these concepts, acronyms and forms really done for us? Yes, we have fewer accidents today than we did in the early days of line work. There have been major advancements in ind…


Building an ATV/UTV Training Program for Utilities and Contractors

Utility task vehicles (UTVs) and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are quickly becoming the preferred motorized equipment for lineworkers to use to access difficult terrain for necessary inspection and repair of infrastructure. And although they are exceptionally capable, these vehicles – identifiable by their large off-road tires, relatively small size and light weight – pose certain challenges for both utilities and contractors who wish to use them on job sites.


Lagging Indicators, Leading Indicators … Let’s Start Over

What do indicators really mean? Occupational safety and health (OSH) professionals continue to debate this issue. Can indicators really measure performance of an OSH program? On one side are lagging indicators, which include common markers such as total recordable incident rate (TRIR); days away, restricted and transfer rate; and experience modification rate.


FR/AR Clothing Considerations During the COVID-19 Pandemic

In 29 CFR 1910.132, OSHA clearly states that personal protective equipment and appropriate training are required for individuals working in utilities, electrical petroleum, oil and gas exploration, and other industries where there is a danger of being injured by arc flash or flash fire.

Writing an ATV/UTV Operating Safety Policy

This installment of “Train the Trainer 101” is a little bit different than usual in that we are going to write an operating safety policy. There are two goals here: to help you learn to develop policies that make a difference, and to prevent wrecked all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and utility task vehicles (UTVs) on your job sites. Over the last few decades, ATVs and UTVs have taken on a significant role in remote site access and large yard transportation. What have also occurred over the last few decades are serious and occasionally fatal injuries from the operation of ATVs and UTVs. In my ow…

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