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| Scott Francis |

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-rated apparel. In this month’s Tailgate Topic, we’ll explore how to combat such complacency. Many utility job tasks carry inherent risks, whether it’s working near live electrical equipment or navigating challenging terrain. Regular training sessions serve as invaluable opportunities to reinforc…

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 to occur in their work environment. Participants were also asked to discuss motives for the identified behaviors and strategies for shifting perspectives regarding them. The intent of the three-part exercise, which was deliberately constructed to achieve the resulting outcome, was to…

| Scott Francis |

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 greater risk of injury. Whether you’re responsible for a few employees or 1,000, getting your team properly trained in the appropriate use of flame-resistant and arc-rated (FR/AR) apparel helps to …

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, in publicly held U.S. companies, the position described as chief sustainability officer has grown from 29 such officers in 2011 to 183 in 2023 (see https://weinrebgroup.com/2023-cso-report-press-rele…

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 opposite. In the coldest months, the top of the lake freezes entirely. The ground freezes, too, while the monarch butterflies leave and many of the birds fly south. But even those pattern disruptions – the four seasons – become a rhythm, an expected ritual during which we trade lawnmowers for sno…

| Jim Vaughn, CUSP |

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: The GFCI or GFI (ground fault interrupter) was invented by University of California at Berkeley Professor Charles Dalziel. A GFCI does not limit voltage; you can still be shocked, but you won’t be ki…

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. Job and Task Hazard Analyses Most champions excel at scouting. They understand the strengths, weaknesses and tendencies of their opponents so well that they can predict what they will do in certain situations. This is fantastic news for us because our opponents – hazards and risks – are quantifiabl…

What’s Missing in Your Training?

Author’s note to readers: Be careful not to judge this article before you finish reading it. Even some members of Incident Prevention’s editorial advisory board were concerned the wrong message might be sent. I don’t think so. We have a great history of training and a lot of good trainers in the college-operated programs, the for-profit training centers, the apprentice yards and on the job. But there are issues with some of our training as evidenced by what we see on social media. We must start the conversation to honestly confront these issues, and maybe that begins here. You are invited t…

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. It is unknown whether these are localized findings or a wider challenge in the utility industry. This article explores this topic, providing information on the most appropriate methods and highlighting how easily errors can occur. OSHA 29 CFR 1910.269(l)(8)(ii) requires that “the employer shall…

| Mack Turner, CUSP |

Am I My Brother’s Keeper – Or Not?

I am sure that the safety leaders reading this Tailgate Topic have heard some or all of the following phases: “I’m my brother’s keeper,” “Don’t get hurt,” “Work in a manner that prevents injury,” and “Keep your head in the game.” These phrases are well-intended; they serve as a reminder to keep safety top of mind. But using them will not prevent incidents. I recently reviewed an incident that resulted in an injury for a client. That client has a very good safety program and culture. The incident report included feedback from co-workers of the injured party (we’ll call him “John”), who sa…

Incidents Require an Immediate Response

Incidents on job sites can cause pain and mental anguish, disrupt project timelines, escalate costs and have lasting repercussions on an employer’s safety performance record. When an incident occurs, company management and safety professionals must respond in a timely manner. Typically, the first responsive action is obtaining detailed information about the incident as quickly as possible. Ask about any injuries that may have occurred and their severity, as well as whether the injured party is still on the scene or has been transported to a medical facility. Find out if emergency re…

| Kate Wade |

Safety and Innovation Lead the Way at San Diego Gas & Electric

“Safety and innovation are one and the same.” That was among the opening remarks delivered by San Diego Gas & Electric personnel during the recent Safety Innovation Tour held at the utility’s Skills Training Center in the Serra Mesa neighborhood of the city. And certainly, SDG&E continues to focus on thinking and moving forward in ways that will help to bolster the safety of both their workers and the public. That was apparent throughout the tour – a highlight of the most recent iP Utility Safety Conference & Expo (https://utilitysafetyconference.com) – during which nearly…

Father-and-Son-MTodd
| Mark Todd |

‘It’s a Wonderful Life’: Acknowledging and Safeguarding Our Blessings

In the classic 1946 film “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Jimmy Stewart plays the role of George Bailey. Due to a series of unfortunate events, George makes a desperate attempt to right the things that have turned his world upside down. He even says that maybe things would be better if he had never been born. George then gets to witness what the world would be like if he had never been born. He sees many events that would have taken place differently because he was not there. In the end, George can see all the good his life has brought to others. He sees what a wonderful life he’s had. Fast-forw…

Jeffrey Sullivan article
| Jeffrey Sullivan |

‘Avocado Hand’ and Scaling the Safety Message

Avocado toast has become all the rage at restaurants and on social media posts over the past several years. I eat it; it is delectable. You make it by toasting some bread, adding some ripe avocado and maybe some salt, and then maybe some tomatoes or sprouts. Easy, right? Now, I want you to think of making this dish, but consider it from a safety angle. Avocado toast can be a hazardous dish to prepare. You must toast bread, which is a potential fire hazard, and you have to cut open an avocado. Unfortunately, people sometimes do this by holding the avocado in their hand, which can result i…

David McPeak chart Dec23-Jan24

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’t we 100% successful at safety? It’s because we don’t fully grasp and utilize the Art of Safety, or how and why you must understand, lead, develop and protect people. That’s why I wrote the book “Frontline Incident Prevention – The Hurdle: Innovative and Practical Insights on the Art of Safety” …

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