Tailgate Topics Archive



4 Questions for Continuous Improvement

As Jim, the owner of the company, walked the job site with the head of safety and quality, he said, “You know, we’ve made big gains in safety, quality and production, even as we’ve grown over 200% the past couple of years, but things have plateaued, and I don’t know what to do.”  This may […]

Chainsaw Safety Practices for Rights-of-Way

We all enjoy watching television or listening to music at home, perhaps while eating a hot meal or drinking a shake we made in the blender – all activities made possible through the wonderful power of electricity. But our enjoyment is dampened when the power goes out, which is sometimes due to a fallen tree […]

If I Could Do It All Over Again

| Terry Ehli |
Being retired from a 32-year career as an electrical lineman, I sometimes catch myself asking the question, “If I could do it all over again, what would I have done differently?” Then I start to think about how my shoulders ache on these cold Minnesota nights because of the arthritis in them. That pain is […]

The Rule of Should

I have been working in the health and safety realm for many years, and I enjoy sharing with others the experiences I’ve had and the knowledge I’ve acquired. I often distill my know-how into short pieces of advice that get my message across without sounding too preachy. Over the years, some people started calling my […]

Plan on Going Home Tonight

Do you plan on going home tonight?  It’s probably something you don’t really consider as you go about your day. And if someone asked you, you might think, “What a weird question,” and then say, “Yes, of course.”  But stop for a moment. Think about those words: Do you plan on going home tonight? You […]

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 […]

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.” […]

Getting Shocked on a Structure?

| Jim Vaughn, CUSP |
It’s not static. And there’s a reason that’s important. Static is defined at www.dictionary.com as a stationary electrical charge built up on insulating material. The Britannica.com 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 […]

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 […]

Powerful Safety Messages: Spoken and Silent

In September 1994, my career in safety and human performance had yet to begin. At the time, accepting a temporary position in safety was my way to “get out of Dodge,” which was the Customer Information Center at the local gas utility. Having spent four years as a call center representative and another four as […]

Battling Invisible Distractions

Over the years, the utility industry has spent countless hours and dollars on worker safety efforts. By now, I think just about everyone reading this Tailgate Topic has attended a safety seminar or meeting where a new concept was explained, a new acronym was released or a new form was rolled out. Personally, my bowl […]

The End of the Day

Safety is an around-the-clock job. However, there are certain times – like the end of the workday – when safety needs to be given extra attention. In the beginning of the workday, worker complacency is typically at its lowest. That’s because we may not yet be familiar with the day’s work, which keeps us on […]

Watch Your Step

Soft tissue injuries are very painful, and it takes a long time to heal from them. In addition to pain, they also can cause frustration and emotional distress. Big medical bills and a loss of wages may be covered by workers’ compensation, but that doesn’t reduce pain or cover lost overtime, and it certainly doesn’t […]
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Drive Safe. Work Safe. Save Lives.

Members of the OSHA Georgia Struck-By Alliance and the Associated General Contractors of Georgia Inc. (AGC Georgia) will join thousands of employers and workers during this year’s National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW), which takes place April 26-30. This year’s theme is “Drive Safe. Work Safe. Save Lives. Everyone plays a role in work zone […]

Combating Drowsy Driving

| R. Neal Gracey |
Many years ago, a young fellow who I was great friends with was on a run to fix a truck up north. He called his wife on his way back to tell her that he would be home in about four or five hours. Well, it wasn’t long before she got word that he had […]

Is Safety a Religion?

In the utility industry, we are often connected by families. By that I mean many lineworkers enter the profession because their father, uncle, mother or other relative worked at an electric utility. As for me, my dad was a Methodist minister. I sat in the pew many Sundays, listening to him speak from the pulpit […]

Are You Setting a Good Example?

| Terry Ehli |
Growing up, I was like most kids. All I cared about was horsing around and having fun. I also, like most kids, had people I looked up to for how they were living their lives. For example, I saw my dad work hard to provide for our family of seven. There also was my grandfather […]
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Mitigating the Risk of Wildfire Smoke

Wildfires have become increasingly common in recent years, and many lineworkers have found themselves working around these fires – and their aftermath – as part of their jobs. Because of the hazards that wildfires present, it’s critical that these workers understand how to protect themselves. This month’s Tailgate Topic will address the hazard of wildfire […]

How Does McDonald’s Marketing Apply to Your Lineworker Training?

| Jerry Havens, COSS |
Think of a hamburger. Now, pick a fast-food chain to get that burger from. Chances are you thought of McDonald’s, Burger King or Wendy’s. It’s even more likely that McDonald’s was your first thought – but why? Probably because McDonald’s has been the number one fast-food chain in the world since 1975, only losing the […]

4 Actions to Combat ‘Sheepeople Syndrome’

| Mack Turner, CUSP |
I was recently consulting with a client’s safety committee about updating their safety handbook and standard operating procedures. During a discussion of work positioning and work methods, it was discovered that their policies were in violation of OSHA’s minimum approach distance rules. Their initial response was, “Well, we’ve always worked that way, and so do […]
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