Creating Good Safety Habits

A journeyman lineman is aloft in his bucket, helping a co-worker install a new transformer on a utility pole. For a second, his mind wanders to the argument he had last night with his wife. Then, suddenly, he hears his co-worker asking for help repositioning the transformer, which is now suspended in the air, attached to the boom winch line of the line truck. In response, the journeyman lineman overreacts and operates his bucket controls too quickly, hitting and lifting the bottom of the transformer. The sling loosens and comes off the lifting eyes, causing the transformer to drop to the gr…

Strategies to Handle Workplace Conflict

“Jack, the people issues are just getting to be too much,” the foreman said. “If it’s not the landowners and members of the public throwing fits and coming into the work zones, it’s our own people getting into conflicts. At best it’s a distraction that steals our focus, and at it’s worst it becomes violent.” The superintendent replied to the foreman, “I hear you, Billy. Let’s come up with a plan on how to deal with this.” Three Important Questions In this month’s Tailgate, we’re going to review answers to three important questions related to workplace conflict and violence, and the…

3 Keys to Transforming Safety and Organizational Performance

3 Keys to Transforming Safety and Organizational Performance Engaging in these activities can help companies manage all types of risk holistically. Utility organizations have an opportunity to transform their safety and organizational performance by adopting a proven strategy and approach. This approach – which consists primarily of the following three components – requires leaders to think and manage differently while also challenging industry paradigms and assumptions: Study and learn from success, not just failure. Integrate the organization’s safety and loss prevention syste…

A Historical Review of Workplace Safety in the U.S.

A Historical Review of Workplace Safety in the U.S. While OSHA may sometimes make it difficult for businesses to do business, their rules are necessary for the safety of the American workforce. Has OSHA ever made it difficult for businesses to do business? It sure has, and I will be the first to raise my hand in agreement. I started my career in the electrical utility industry as a lineman helper five years before President Richard Nixon signed into law the Williams-Steiger Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. It became enforceable in late April 1971. At that time, I was ju…

Electrical Arc Flash and Shock Hazards for Fall Protection Using ASTM F887

Electrical Arc Flash and Shock Hazards for Fall Protection Using ASTM F887 The standard helps to ensure equipment safety in multihazard environments. Arc-rated personal protective equipment (PPE) provides thermal protection against burns to a worker’s body. Fall protective systems, although categorized as PPE, do not have the same primary purpose. A fall protective system’s primary performance requirement is fall protection. In applications where both the exposure to thermal hazards from an electric arc or flame and the prevention of falls must be considered, the fall protective system …

OSHA Electric Power Standards – Simplified | Part 6

De-energizing Lines and Equipment for the Protection of Employees It’s critical for workers to understand the process of de-energizing lines and equipment to hold them clear. As with all articles in this series, it is important to start with the hazard. Electrical hazards are present when electrical systems are assumed to be de-energized but are not. It is important to remember that transmission and distribution (T&D) systems are different from other energy systems found in general industry and construction industry applications. Electric T&D systems are mostly located outdoors,…

9 Safety Axioms You Need to Know

Safety works with just the nuts and bolts, but not as well as it will if you apply these nine axioms. Too often we focus so much on the nuts and bolts of safety (e.g., grounding procedures, Ohm’s law, work methods for a pole-top rescue) that we lose sight of the big picture. There’s no doubt the nuts and bolts are important, but they lose value if we don’t understand and apply the following nine safety axioms. 1. Safety must be led. There is a video clip of Mike Rowe interviewing a crab boat captain from the TV show “Deadliest Catch.” During the interview, the captain said, “My job i…

| Jim Vaughn, CUSP |

October-November 2021 Q&A

Q: We are contractors with a truck grounding question for work inside substations. Working within a proper clearance, the generation and transmission cooperative (G&T) that owns the transmission circuit coming into the substation believes 4/0 equipment grounding is needed, while the consumer utilities operating the substation say 1/0 or 2/0 is required. We sometimes are required by the G&T to use double 4/0 to meet the required available fault current. Can you explain the disparity in requirements? Also, do we meet the OSHA requirements if we use the 1/0 or the 2/0 for equipment gro…

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 with induced voltages via proper system grounding. “It’s not dead until it’s grounded” is one of the oldest and most inaccurate statements made in our industry. It’s also one of the first things I was ever told when I started working for Georgia Power in 1967 as a helper on a line crew. Many years…

TRAIN THE TRAINER 101 – Eating the Elephant

There is an adage applied to seemingly insurmountable jobs: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Of course, being quite literal, my first thought after hearing the adage for the first time was, “Won’t it spoil before you finish?” And that’s the problem with safety management. There’s too much to do and too few people to do it. One way you are assured to fail is to try to do everything at once. Even a plethora of half-measures do not create sustainable change. Change comes from using a methodical approach to solving problems. If you are one of those overworked safety professiona…

| Jim Vaughn, CUSP |

Getting Shocked on a Structure?

It’s not static. And there’s a reason that’s important. Static is defined at as a stationary electrical charge built up on insulating material. The website defines static as a phenomenon in which charged particles are transferred from one body to another. For example, if two objects are rubbed together, especially if the objects are insulators and the surrounding air is dry, the objects acquire equal and opposite charges. So, why are these definitions of “static” important? Because what you are experiencing is not static – it is induction. Why is that…

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.

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