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4 Rules to Live By

Looking for an alternative to ground-to-ground and cradle-to-cradle? The method suggested here could be your answer.

Georgia Power Company (GPC) has developed the 4 Cover-up Rules philosophy to train employees rather than requiring a ground-to-ground or cradle-to-cradle glove and/or sleeve rule.

Every fatality in the last 89 years at GPC has been phase-to-ground contact or in-series with line-to-load on either primary or secondary voltages. GPC has not had a fatality on system or source voltages (feedback) since the 4 Rules of Cover-up were developed and implemented after the last fatality in 1996. This fatality occurred on a 120-volt street light circuit. GPC line personnel glove 4KV-25 KV distribution voltages.
Protection for electrical workers has been a major concern in the United States since accidents and fatalities in the electrical utility industry were first recorded. GPC has made modifications to their cover-up programs that virtually eliminate the possibility of contacts/flashes when properly applied.
When energized gloving procedures were first introduced to the industry, all gloving activity was performed from the pole. A small percentage of gloving activities were performed from insulated platforms, but most were done by line workers positioning themselves on poles with climbers.
The work procedures of covering energized phases with protective equipment, such as rubber line hoses and blankets, were born in those early years. It was believed that the danger was limited to working on energized conductors and equipment. However, the protective cover had to be removed to allow completion of the task. Since the line workers were standing on the poles in climbers, a potential phase-to-ground contact was always possible. Many fatalities occurred from this procedure.
As line work evolved and aerial devices were introduced, the line worker was no longer at ground potential. Working from an aerial device isolated the worker from ground potential through the dielectric qualities of bucket trucks. The phase-to-ground potential continued to exist only in a different form. A lack of cover-up applied to path-to-ground locations then became the largest contributor to contacts/flashes. The industry continued to work out of buckets with exposed ground potentials that constantly remained uncovered. The use of aerial devices played a major part in limiting phase-to-ground contacts, but contacts continued to occur due to the procedures that evolved in working from the pole.
GPC has revised its cover-up programs, emphasizing the covering of paths-to-ground in the immediate work area. In the 1990s, the GPC Lineman Development Program (LDP) identified, developed and implemented changes that led to the current cover-up program. Safety and Training advisors agreed that apprentice line workers needed additional protection while in training. In the process of revising the energized portion of the overhead and underground programs, a new cover-up procedure that would include addressing the covering of paths-to-ground in the immediate work area was initiated by Safety and Training employees at the GPC Klondike Training Center. With the understanding that two points of contact with different potential will result in catastrophic danger to a line worker, a set of rules were written to address the cover-up procedure. These rules are practical and can be applied in all situations. They are known as 4 Cover-up Rules to live by.

Rule #1: Always cover neutral and energized conductors in the order you first come to them.
As a line worker makes an approach into an energized area, the first contact with current carrying conductors in most cases will be a neutral or some type of energized secondary. If an aerial device is positioned slightly past the pole, proper additional cover should be applied to eliminate possible boom contact in these areas.

Rule #2: When practical, cover neutral and energized conductors and devices before covering grounds (such as poles, arms, etc.).
In most pole configurations, the energized conductors are positioned away from the pole. The practical approach would be to systematically cover these energized areas as they are confronted and before reaching past them. This aids in eliminating the chance of any accidental body contact.

Rule #3: Before working on an energized apparatus in your work area, check to ensure that the grounds (poles arms, etc.) are covered.
Once the energized parts in the immediate work area are covered, the possible paths-to-ground must be covered before proceeding. An example would be to cover an area of the pole that would prevent a preformed tie that must be turned 180 degrees for proper installation from making contact with the pole.

Rule #4: Before working on a grounded apparatus (poles, arms, etc.), check to ensure that the energized conductors and devices in your work area are covered.
Sometimes a line worker’s task involves working on a potential path-to-ground. Before doing so, all energized conductors in the immediate work area must be covered. Any type of reach in to the pole or across an arm that has improperly covered or uncovered energized conductors could expose a line worker to accidental body contact. Following these precautions will help eliminate contact possibilities.

With the 4 Cover-up Rules now integrated into Georgia Power’s LDP, the Safety and Health advisors and Methods and Training instructors strive to ensure all journeymen line workers are aware of and adhere to these procedures. The Klondike Training Center offers refresher classes to existing journeymen line workers that teach the concepts of the 4 Cover-up Rules. The LDP and refresher classes each have classroom and field instruction, observations and inspections by Methods and Training and Safety and Health. The field instruction and safety observations of line workers now ensures that the proper use of tested and rated protective cover-up is used by all line workers. These programs have been well received and are viewed as critical to working energized conductors safely and efficiently.
Line workers traditionally do a good job of protecting themselves in energized areas. There are hundreds of thousands of hours of energized work performed every day with no incidents. Georgia Power Company believes that contacts can be prevented by using the 4 Cover-up Rules. If adhered to, this philosophy creates a safe environment for line workers. It is time tested and proven for more than nine years. ip

Danny Raines, Corporate Safety, Georgia Power Company. He can be contacted at

Mike Lee, Overhead Training, Supervisor, Georgia Power Company, and Larry Woody, Senior Methods and Training Specialist, Georgia Power Company, contributed to this article.

This article is owned solely by Georgia Power Company. Permission to print this article has been granted to Incident Prevention.

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Worksite Safety, grounding

Danny Raines, CUSP

Danny Raines, CUSP, is an author, an OSHA-authorized trainer, and a transmission and distribution safety consultant who retired from Georgia Power after 40 years of service and now operates Raines Utility Safety Solutions LLC.