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Equipment: Back to Basics

In this month’s Tailgate we get back to basics and review some of the fundamental principles of crew safety when handling tools and equipment.

Principle 1: Prior to usage, inspect and test all tools and equipment in accordance with your company’s approved procedures.
Inspection and testing are cornerstones of worker safety. Inspect tools, equipment, ropes, knots and rigging as required by your company’s procedure or, if no such procedure exists, on a routine basis. Be sure to pay special attention to calibration dates, testing dates and manufacturer expiration dates. 

Principle 2: Never use damaged or defective tools or equipment.
For any tools, equipment, ropes, knots or rigging that are removed from service, ensure that they are either destroyed – such as cutting fingers off of damaged insulating rubber gloves – or tagged in a manner that ensures they remain out of service. Return all damaged or defective tools and equipment for repair or replacement as soon as reasonably possible.

Principle 3: Use the right tool for the job.
When performing all tasks, use the proper, approved tool for the job. Do not use any tool, equipment, rope, knot or rigging unless instructed in its proper use.

Make sure you follow your company’s and the manufacturer’s tool, equipment, rope, knot and rigging safety rules. Do not use experimental tools, equipment or other devices for trial, test or adoption without approval by the proper authority in your company.

When storing your equipment, ensure that all of your tools, equipment, ropes, knots and rigging are in clean and serviceable condition.

Before starting any task or job, review your scope of work including your job package for proper tool, equipment, rope, knot and rigging usage.

When using tools, equipment, ropes, knots and rigging, confirm that personnel and other objects above, below and in the immediate work area are not positioned in a potential drop zone or line of fire.

When finished with a task or job, make sure equipment, ropes, knots and rigging are returned to their proper storage location.

Principle 4: Secure equipment to protect the public, the driver, and all equipment and materials.
Make certain that equipment and components are properly crated and secured so that they remain secured during transport and no foreign objects will contact and damage the equipment and components.

When required to move equipment, use a spotter or safetyman.

Ensure you know and follow the loading limits of your vehicle and equipment.

When using slings:
• Check nameplates/tags for load weights
• Select a proper sling for the load rating
• Use tag lines to prevent loads from twisting during the lift

When securing loads:
• Ensure that all loose tools and materials in the passenger cab of the vehicle are secured to prevent injury from projectiles as a result of a sudden stop or turn
• Verify that trailers are equipped with the appropriate number of tie-downs per weight (e.g., < 10,000 pounds = 2, > 10,000 pounds = 4 or more)
• Make certain all equipment is properly secured to the trailer bed
• Confirm that all tarps and covers are securely tied
• Be sure all poles loaded on trailers are bound in at least two places with company-approved binders

Principle 5: Store flammable and combustible liquids in a safe manner.
Store all flammable and combustible liquids in approved containers. Make sure to place the containers away from radio equipment and any other known source of ignition.

Principle 6: Protect others when trailing equipment by keeping equipment secure and visible.
To mark the trailing end during the day, place a red flag at the trailing end of the longest pole. At night, place the flag on the trailing end with a stoplight, a taillight and turn signals.

Make certain that any defective tools used for securing equipment and loads are removed from service and tagged accordingly. Inspect equipment and loads for items that are top-heavy and appropriately secure them.

Following these simple yet important fundamental principles will help keep you, your crew and the members of the public free from harm.

About the Author: John Boyle is vice president of safety and quality for INTREN, an electric, gas and telecommunication construction company based in Union, Ill. Boyle has more than 27 years of experience, and has worked in nuclear and wind power generation and electric and gas distribution.

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