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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Jim Vaughn, CUSP

After 25 years as a transmission-distribution lineman and foreman, Jim Vaughn, CUSP, has devoted the last 24 years to safety and training. A noted author, trainer and lecturer, he is a senior consultant for the Institute for Safety in Powerline Construction. He can be reached at

April – May 2024 Q&A

| Jim Vaughn, CUSP |
Q: We recently participated in a safety seminar during which OSHA’s digger derrick/crane exemption was discussed. We have used the exemption with digger derricks to raise baskets of travelers to pole-tops for wire-pulling installation. Are we in compliance if we are not using a certified crane operator for this work? A: Our interpretation of the […]

Switching and Tagging

Discipline is one of the many things that have served our industry well. Decades before OSHA was established by the Williams-Steiger Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, our industry already had disciplined procedures for switching, controlling and tagging circuits. When OSHA began to establish rules for the power-line industry, they recognized the superior discipline […]

February – March 2024 Q&A

| Jim Vaughn, CUSP |
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 […]

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 […]

December 2023-January 2024 Q&A

| Jim Vaughn, CUSP |
Q: Our network group employees don’t work anything over 600 volts without working clearance. When working 480 volts, can they wear Class 2 sleeves with Class 0 gloves? We’ve looked through OSHA 29 CFR 1910.269 and are unable to find where it says they can’t. A: We applaud you for attempting the research. OSHA’s perspective […]

Safety Signs and the Importance of Training

When I think about safety signs, the first thing I hear in my head is the hit 1970s song “Signs” by Five Man Electrical Band, particularly the part that goes, “Sign, sign, everywhere a sign, blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind.” In our industry, we have a lot of signs, and the truth is […]

October-November 2023 Q&A

| Jim Vaughn, CUSP |
Q: With distribution URD cable and other circuits in the same duct bank, should there be any concern about inductive current/voltage on the conductor if there is a fault on the opposing circuit? Most of our circuits are in plastic conduit and encased in concrete. We have a neutral running through from the substation, and […]

Be Prepared for the ‘Big One’

At NASCAR’s Talladega, Pocono and Daytona superspeedways, there is always talk of the “Big One.” The Big One is a wreck that frequently characterizes those three-hour, 200-mph, 42-car races on a three-lane-wide oval. Of course, there have been superspeedway races where the Big One didn’t happen. Numerous racing organizations go years without getting caught up […]

August-September 2023 Q&A

| Jim Vaughn, CUSP |
Q: Is there a rule that determines at what voltage level we must ground downed primary (e.g., at voltages higher than 4 kV)? A: No, there is no rule that you must ground downed primary when working to get it back up in the air. When conductors are on the ground, the objective of grounding […]

The End of the Pin-On Man Basket

I have been warning my clients to prepare for an expensive high-reach, non-insulating platform compliance issue, and that time is very near, if not already here. The issue is the use of pin-on man baskets for cranes. For quite a few years, it has been illegal to use a crane to hoist personnel with a […]