4 Questions for Continuous Improvement

As Jim, the owner of the company, walked the job site with the head of safety and quality, he said, “You know, we’ve made big gains in safety, quality and production, even as we’ve grown over 200% the past couple of years, but things have plateaued, and I don’t know what to do.”  This may sound familiar, or maybe you’re on the other end of the spectrum – it seems that you are headed down the wrong path or perhaps have even hit rock bottom. The solution to both problems is the same: ask these four questions.  Question 1: What’s Good?   We want to double down on the good. We want to …

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 Emphasis Program on heat inspections in September. At the same time, the agency formed a Heat Injury and Illness Prevention Work Group of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health to start collecting information in preparation for the rulemaking.  Past Not many hazards foun…

‘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 rules. Crafting a safety initiative so that you end up with employees who want to follow your safety procedures depends on addressing the driving causes of their resistance. Following are six sources of potential resistance and strategies you can use to help overcome each one. They don’t kn…

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 You Are to Where You Want to Be” by Jack Canfield. I hope you find this article useful, and I also hope it inspires you to read both “The Success Principles” and my book as part of your continuing personal and professional development. To highlight how much I believe in this book and want to enc…

A Close Look at Step and Touch Potentials

The topic of step and touch potentials is controversial, which is precisely why we need to discuss it. In my role as a work methods auditor and consultant, I see more variations in how employers address step potential than in any other aspect of equipotential bonding. I know the reasons for this and will address them here. But first, I need to clearly state the following: The theoretical argument for hazardous step potential in electric utility work environments clearly exists. Every employer must assess the hazards of step potential in their work environments and adopt a plan to pr…

April – May 2022 Q&A

Q: Why are communications systems bonded to a utility system neutral? Doesn’t that make the communications messenger a parallel neutral path? A: Yes, it does, but this is a case of “Which is worse?” There are a number of things we do for one purpose that create hazards for another. We must know the issues and choose what we will do. Down guys are one example. In transmission and distribution, many utilities install insulators in the upper section of a down guy to isolate it from the electrical environment at the top of the pole. The purpose is to protect the public from the potential of …

OSHA Electric Power Standards – Simplified

Protection from Flames and Electric Arcs It is important to remember that all arc hazards are not equal. By Pam Tompkins, CUSP, CSP, and Matt Edmonds, CUSP, CIT, CHST According to OSHA, electric power generation, transmission and distribution workers face a significant risk of injury from burns due to electric arcs. Studies have concluded that a large percentage of arc-related incidents resulted in either a fatality or in extremely painful third-degree burns, which require skin grafts and leave permanent scarring. Based on these conclusions, OSHA adopted standards to address forms …

Increasing Worker Confidence and Competence

When allowed to be immersed in their desired craft, our workers become proficient, experienced and competent. Adept lineworkers, for example, will interact with thousands of poles and pieces of hardware in their careers. They have a deep understanding of strain, depth, condition and loading after only moments of viewing a pole they are about to work on. But does the industry recognize and treat our workers like they are the experts? This article is not meant to tell you what you should do, but I am going to provide information for you to discuss, interpret and decide how to implement. If…

Chainsaw Safety Practices for Rights-of-Way

We all enjoy watching television or listening to music at home, perhaps while eating a hot meal or drinking a shake we made in the blender – all activities made possible through the wonderful power of electricity. But our enjoyment is dampened when the power goes out, which is sometimes due to a fallen tree or fallen branches breaking electrical supply lines. To help remove the debris and restore electrical services, line crews often use chainsaws. They have become essential tools, but it’s no secret that operating a chainsaw can be hazardous if the user doesn’t follow safe operating pro…

| Jim Vaughn, CUSP | ,

February – March 2022 Q&A

Q: Is it a good idea to wear dielectric boots in a substation? Do they provide additional protection to a worker? We feel that the worker is at equipotential – given the grid and stone are maintained per design – so we don’t believe that dielectric boots would provide extra protection. What are your thoughts? A: The design of the substation’s grid has two purposes in its construction. One incorporates ground rods to create a low-resistance electrical path to get harmful voltage and current into the earth to protect the equipment in the station. The grid itself helps by interconnecting th…

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 highlights from a few of my favorites. This article will focus on “Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win,” authored by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. I hope that you find this article useful, and I also hope it inspires you to read both “Extreme Ownership” and my book as part of your continuing…

| Scott Francis |

Using PPE to Bolster Safety Resilience

Task-based and daily wear PPE programs help protect a company’s workers and improve resilience. Alexander Pope famously wrote that “to err is human,” yet as safety professionals, we often feel that we can prevent incidents if we eliminate all risk. It’s a concept that has permeated nearly every facet of the safety sphere: account for the risks, eliminate their presence and prevent injuries. Even still, incidents and injuries do happen, sometimes with catastrophic consequences. This has brought about a shift in the safety mindset, moving toward a more resilient outlook.

Safety Advancements in the Line-Clearance Industry

Progress over the last decade has made the industry a safer place for line-clearance workers. When I started working for an investor-owned utility in 1974, I was fresh out of high school and had little knowledge of safe work practices and policies. I was truly fortunate to collaborate with people at the utility who cared about my safety and made sure I developed safe work habits that I still espouse today.

ANSI A92.2: 2022 Changes and Training Requirements

Here’s what owners and operators should know about upcoming updates to the standard.  Updates are coming to the ANSI A92.2 standard, titled “American National Standard for Vehicle-Mounted Elevating and Rotating Aerial Devices.” Your most common piece of powered equipment soon will have new or revised requirements for design, manufacturing, testing, training and operation. These new requirements go into effect in August of this year. First, let’s cover some of the most notable changes, and then we’ll look at some often misunderstood training requirements.

| Stephen Oaks | ,

Grounding Conductor Confusion: What’s the Best One to Use?

Consider new testing data before making a final determination. Proper grounding is both a life-and-death matter and an operational imperative. But many questions remain about grounding. Some of the most frequently asked include: Why do some designers, utilities and contractors use one type of grounding conductor while others use a different type? If copper and aluminum carry power through transmission and distribution lines, then why not use them everywhere, including for grounding? What is the best grounding conductor? The grounding conductor selection process should…

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