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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

June – July 2023 Q&A

| Jim Vaughn, CUSP |
Q: How do consensus standards apply to the employer responsibility for safe work practices? Are they absolute? A: No, consensus standards are part of a system the employer can use to develop their safety programs. The issue is, can the employer defend their programs that do or do not conform to the consensus standards? Compliance […]

Training Users of Aerial Lifts

Last year, Incident Prevention published an article by Altec’s Phil Doud regarding changes to the ANSI A92.2 standard regarding vehicle-mounted elevating and rotating aerial devices (see It is a good and timely article. In it, Mr. Doud points out that many of the training requirements in the revised 2021 edition of the standard were […]

ATVs and UTVs: Minimizing the Hazards

Throughout all of industry, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and utility task vehicles (UTVs) are involved in the majority of off-highway vehicle (OHV) incidents that result in injury. It’s not much different in the utility industry. While there is no official mechanism for counting or comparing vehicle class versus incidents, surveys and experience seem to indicate that […]

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.

Crash Analysis: A Personal Story

I started the analysis almost right away out of habit. Actually, “right away” means later that day. First, we had to escape the burning truck. That was easier said than done because we were all unconscious from the impact.

The Skinny on Confined Spaces

There are rules in our industry. We, as utility or utility contractor employers, must follow the rules for two reasons. The first reason is that, if we don’t follow the rules, we get into trouble with the regulatory authorities. The second and more important reason is that the rules are in place to protect employees […]

August – September 2022 Q&A

| Jim Vaughn, CUSP |
Q: Is it ever OK to put a man basket on a crane? My understanding is that OSHA 1926.1400, “Cranes and Derricks in Construction,” states doing so is prohibited.   A: For our readers, the rule you are referring to is 29 CFR 1926.1431(a), which begins, “The use of equipment to hoist employees is prohibited […]

June – July 2022 Q&A

Q: Why does grounding alone not prevent static discharges, and why don’t we have to ground all flammable dispensing drums and stations? A: “Flammable” is a relative term, and some of the written standards are detailed to the point that they can be confusing. The best thing any facility can do is to consult a […]

Traffic Cones and Flashing Lights

Question: How many traffic cones does it take to stop a speeding car? Yes, the barriers we use are flimsy, and a traffic cone will not stop an errant vehicle from driving into a work zone. But there are some tweaks we can make to the equipment we use that will improve the level of […]

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 […]