| R. Neal Gracey |

Training a New Generation

My personal journey in line work started October 2, 1978, on a two-man line crew. It was just my foreman and me. He was an old, seasoned power lineman, gruff and to the point. When we met, he looked at me and asked, “Can you climb 30 poles a day?” Heck, it was all I could do to not turn around and walk out! But I didn’t walk out, and he and I spent the next few years together setting poles and installing facilities in backyards and rights-of-way.

| Dale West |

3 Reasons to Think Twice

Loretta was excited but very nervous about her upcoming 20-week ultrasound; she and her husband, Vic, were told there may be complications with her pregnancy. Their son Levi was now 5 years old, and all three had been hoping for a little brother or sister for Levi for two long years. This ultrasound was going to be a big surprise for Levi – he’d get to find out what his mom would be having. Vic was traveling for work, but his boss agreed to fly him out the morning of the ultrasound so he could be with Loretta and Levi for the big event. The day before the ultrasound, Vic called Lorett…

Matted Surfaces Feb 23 article

Matted Surfaces: Safety Considerations and Controls

It’s a busy time in our industry. We have challenges associated with normal operations and maintenance of the grid. We’re also faced with new and increasing work involving distributed generation, vehicle charging infrastructure and major transmission projects. Both existing and emerging work require access to the respective work areas, and with this comes the associated hazards of off-road access work. As an industry, we talk about the electrical hazards of our work all the time, and we should. But we don’t spend a lot of time talking about access work hazards before and after the electr…

Gauges How to Measure Safety February 23

Gauges: How Do You Measure Safety?

The small utility had just lost two journeymen linemen to contractors, and they needed replacements who could hit the ground running. So, the company held some interviews and hired two seasoned journeymen.

Industry trends to improve worker readiness feburary23

Industry Trends and Solutions to Improve Worker Readiness

The moral and legal obligations to provide workers with a safe workplace are just two of the reasons companies should want to keep their employees safe. However, another big motivator for businesses is how extraordinarily disruptive and costly workplace accidents, injuries and illnesses are for their operations. For example, Liberty Mutual estimated that U.S. employers paid over $1 billion per week in workers’ compensation for disabling workplace injuries in 2018 (see www.osha.gov/businesscase). The actual price of work-related injuries and deaths is much more than just workers’ compensa…

Sustainability Considerations When Evaluating FR/AR Apparel February 23
| Josh Moody |

3 Sustainability Considerations When Evaluating FR/AR Apparel

Flame-resistant (FR) and arc-rated (AR) apparel are garments specifically designed to protect the wearer from the hazards of flame and heat, including arc flash and flash fire. This type of personal protective equipment (PPE) is most commonly worn by workers in high-risk industries such as electric utilities, welding, and oil and gas. Donning of FR/AR apparel is one of the most essential practices in place for protecting workers from the flame and heat hazards they may encounter on the job. However, this type of clothing also has a significant impact on the environment. As legislation an…

The Art of Safety: C5 Leadership

C5 safety leaders care about their teams and focus on what they can do to prevent harm and encourage growth. The Art of Safety is understanding, leading, developing and protecting people, including yourself. It’s how to lead safety and work safely. We excel at the science of safety, things like ergonomics, electrical theory and fall protection. I can calculate, for instance, gravity and acceleration during a fall and how much force would be involved in hitting a lower surface. I know electricity is going to take every path to ground, and I can use Ohm’s law to determine current, voltage …

Arc Flash Precautions: A Review

David McPeak hosts the Incident Prevention Institute Forum (https://ip-institute.com/ipi-forum/) once a month. I often take part as a panelist, helping to answer questions posed by forum attendees. During a recent forum, topics ranged from fleet mechanics to arc flash exposures and required personal protective equipment. I decided I’d dedicate this installment of “Voice of Experience” to arc flash hazards by reviewing some of the minimum precautions that employers and employees should take as well as what the regulations require.

Testing and Test Facilities

Electrical testing hazards arise when specialty testing is performed on electric power lines and equipment to determine maintenance needs and fitness for service. OSHA requirements for testing and test facilities are found at 29 CFR 1910.269(o) and 1926.963. Specialty testing refers to cable fault locating, large capacitive load tests, high-current fault closure tests, insulation-resistance and leakage tests, direct-current proof tests and other tests requiring direct connection to power lines. These tests include interim measurements using high-voltage and/or high-power methods on new l…

Opening a Can of Worms

When you say you are opening a can of worms, you are warning people that you are about to discuss something that could be very controversial or lead to more problems. And that’s exactly what I’m about to do.

| R. Neal Gracey |

The Significance of Critical Steps at the Work Site

A “critical step” is an action that can trigger immediate, irreversible harm to people and assets if it is improperly performed. Such a step occurs in our industry whenever an action involves a substantial transfer of energy, movement of weight, or transference of something else that could cause or result in harm to a person or asset.

Safety Considerations for Matted Surfaces

Have you ever worked a job that involved matting? If so, were the hazards and risks of matting discussed during the pre-job briefing? We often focus on the electrical hazards of our work sites – and we should – but we fall short if we don’t also pay attention to other types of hazards. The remainder of this month’s Tailgate Topic will provide you with some items to consider when working with or from a matted surface.

Ground Gradient Step Potential and PPE

For various reasons, ground gradient step potential hazards are not always considered or thought to be important. I recently received a call from a large investor-owned utility whose employees had differing opinions about using super dielectric overshoes or work boots when setting a pole in an energized line. Some people are of the opinion that if you cover up the lines with a nominal voltage-rated cover, there is no danger of an energized pole and therefore no chance of ground gradient step potential. The manufacturer’s usage suggestion for any cover is for incidental brush contact by a qu…

Increasing Safety Through Underground Integrity Management

The utility sector is at a higher risk of serious injuries and fatalities (SIFs) when compared to construction, manufacturing and mining, according to a 2018 study by DEKRA Organizational Safety & Reliability (see www.dekra.us/en/higher-serious-injuries-and-fatalities-sif-exposure-rate-in-utilities-sector-than-other-industries/). The study found that 30% of the SIFs in the utility industry are the result of motor vehicle incidents and another 28% are attributed to line-of-fire or struck-by incidents. Those are sobering statistics, but they help frame what’s possible in the realm of prev…

Electrical Protective Equipment and Live-Line Tools

These items must be appropriately used and cared for to maintain their insulating capabilities. This article will address two unique areas of electric power regulatory standards: electrical protective equipment and live-line tools. As with all articles in this series, let’s start with the hazard. Electric power workers have exposure to electric shock hazards with extremely high risk of serious injury or death. Although personal protective equipment should always be considered the last line of control, electrical protective equipment – when designed, manufactured, tested, maintained and u…

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