Author: John Boyle

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Understanding Step and Touch Potential

Summer storm season is upon us and with summer storms come downed wires, broken poles, and trees and branches that sometimes make contact with energized overhead conductors. This Tailgate covers some of the fundamental hazards of working on or around downed energized conductors, and the unseen hazard of step and touch potential. What is Step and Touch Potential?To understand step and touch potential, we first need to understand how energy dissipates across conductive objects. During broken pole or downed wire conditions, some really good conductors exist that provide path to ground including...

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Working Safely with Chain Saws

The chain saw has become an invaluable tool for lineworkers and arborists who maintain electrical systems, whether it is used for accessing areas for routine maintenance, for tree trimming to ensure circuit reliability or to clear problem areas during storm restoration efforts. The chain saw is also responsible for approximately 30,000 injuries a year. To help you avoid becoming a statistic, this Tailgate covers the basics of chain saw safety. Before Starting the Saw• Check controls, chain tension, and all bolts and handles to ensure they are functioning properly and adjusted according to the...

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Managing Cold Stress

Cold weather has returned to most parts of the U.S. To help you make it through yet another winter, this Tailgate focuses on how to protect yourself from cold stress-related illnesses and injuries. How Cold is Too Cold?Four factors contribute to cold stress: cold temperatures, high or cold wind, dampness and cold water. Cold air, water and snow all draw heat from the body, and a cold environment forces the body to work harder to maintain its temperature. Wind chill – the combination of air temperature and wind speed – also has an influence on cold stress. For example, when you’re outside in...

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Care and Maintenance of Climbers

Climbers are the most distinguishable tool of the line trade. They are offered in a variety of materials, including titanium, aluminum and steel. Styles include permanent and removable gaff, adjustable and nonadjustable climbers. This month’s Tailgate addresses the maintenance and care of climbers. Inspection of ClimbersVisually inspect climbers prior to use and at any time damage is suspected. Inspect for these conditions: • Loose, dull, short or improperly sharpened gaffs.• Cracked or chipped gaff points.• Breaks, cracks or fractures on leg irons.• Thin foot plates on leg irons.• Loose adjustable...

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Care of Portable Ladders

A well-maintained ladder that is properly used will provide a safe, substantial working position. This Tailgate discusses the proper practices for safe ladder use. Common sense and good judgment are needed when using a ladder, especially when ideal conditions do not exist at the job site. Inspection and minor maintenance as described below are the responsibilities of each worker who uses ladders to access heights. InspectionOnly use ladders approved by your company. As a rule, ensure your ladder is maintained in good condition at all times and inspected before each use. Make certain that the...

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Combating Overuse and Overexertion Injuries

This month’s Tailgate focuses on what we can do to combat overuse and overexertion injuries. As every utility employee knows, our work at times is hard, dirty and dangerous. The demands of our job require much physical work. Whether climbing poles or towers, hand-digging holes or moving material from street to rear property, the machines most used and abused are our bodies. All this wear and tear takes its toll, and eventually the body signals overuse through pain and swelling. The types of injuries that can be inflicted often include back pain and problems with joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments,...

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Safe Use of Portable Electric Tools, Cords and Generators

This month’s Tailgate is a review of some basic safety precautions to take when using portable electric tools and equipment. The focus is on prevention of electrical shock, specifically when using 120-volt AC portable electric tools, cords and generators. To simplify the issues, it is best to break down the equipment into the following risk categories: Category 1 – High Risk: This covers portable electric tools and cords used exclusively through temporary wiring. It also includes portable electric tools and cords whose source of power may vary from permanent to temporary – this excludes portable...

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Communication: The Key to Great Safety

You’re a crew leader or even a supervisor and you really know your stuff, yet your crews aren’t quite following your direction. Something is amiss, but you can’t figure it out. Or maybe you’re a journeyman lineman, but your apprentice continues to not follow your direction. It’s becoming a problem for both of you that you’re not sure how to fix. In both cases, maybe it’s due to poor communication. We all can speak a language – some of us can speak many languages – but are we really communicating? Are you being heard? Most importantly, are you being understood? Communication and safety go hand...

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No-Voltage Testing

This month’s Tailgate Topic covers the important task of no-voltage testing, sometimes referred to as absence of voltage testing or no-potential testing. No lineworker is ever excluded from the requirements of testing conductors to verify the absence of voltage when required, although methods and practices on how this is accomplished will vary among companies. The following is a basic overview of how to test both exposed conductors and cable. The steps provided here are demonstrative in nature and not intended to replace your local rules and procedures. This Tailgate also covers the general...

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