Tag: Safety Management

Voice of Experience: The Definition of Personal Protective Equipment

I can remember a day when I would ask employees to name the five topics of a job briefing and why personal protective equipment (PPE) is the fifth point on the list of topics. Since the second part of the question was always a greater challenge for everyone to understand, I’d like to take some time to discuss the differences between protective equipment and PPE. Employees sometimes consider PPE to be system safety grounds, cover-up equipment, traffic vests and other equipment. As you can see in the excerpt below, 29 CFR 1910 Subpart I defines and identifies PPE as well as the body parts that...

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Are You Prepared for the Next Generation of Lineworkers?

The next generation of lineworkers is beginning to step in to fill the shoes of retiring baby boomers and most utilities haven’t even begun to think about what it’s going to take to train and educate these new apprentices. Is your company prepared for the next generation? This article offers suggestions for the training planner to consider as you prepare your updated training plan. Strategic PlanningYour organization needs a plan that identifies training goals and the steps that will be taken toward accomplishing those goals. Developing the training plan is usually best accomplished using a...

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Voice of Experience: Are You Ready for the Big Storm?

Now that Superstorm Sandy is over, there are fewer news stories about the destruction left in her wake and more media coverage of other topics. That is the nature of the news, but the truth is that Sandy cleanup will take months to complete. Many homeowners now have to cope with the new normal; their lives have been forever changed by the storm. When looking back on Sandy from a utility perspective – when you are scrutinizing what went well, what didn’t and the lessons learned – please consider the following points. Utility systems, neighborhoods and lives take years to build, and they can all...

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Raising the Bar, Lowering the EMR

Today, many contracting companies in the maintenance and construction industries are facing mounting pressure from utility owners to rethink their health, safety and environmental (HSE) cultures and work practices, which in turn can lower their common HSE indicators. Those companies that fail to meet client demands often find themselves excluded from bid lists while they search for a catalyst of cultural change. In this article, we will explore how Supreme Industries – a contracting company that specializes in right-of-way (ROW) clearing, environmental and sedimentation controls, access roads...

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Voice of Experience: FMCSR Compliance: Driver Qualification Files

As I travel around the country to audit driver qualification files, I often find that requirements found in the federal motor carrier safety regulations (FMCSR) are misunderstood by many companies. In this article I will focus solely on driver qualification files and the most common FMCSR compliance failures I see when I audit those files. Regulation 49 CFR 391.11 requires that a person must be qualified before he or she may drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). A CMV as defined in 49 CFR 390.5 is a vehicle, or the combination of a vehicle and towed unit, weighing 10,001 pounds or greater....

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Performance Improvement: Barriers to Events

For anyone who has worked toward improving the safety performance of an organization, you are consistently led back to the fact that people keep making errors. If we could just stop people from making mistakes, we wouldn’t have all these accidents, right? Right. It’s true. If people didn’t make mistakes, we would have far fewer accidents and events. What is also true is that people are fallible, people make mistakes, and people will continue to make mistakes regardless of how much we wring our hands and tell them to be more careful. Without understanding and accepting these truths, there can...

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Safety and Human Performance: You Can’t Have One Without the Other

Safety and human performance professionals have spent a lot of time trying to find that one nugget, that one silver bullet, that one thing that – if we used it – would stop people from getting hurt. I’ve always been a firm believer that safety and productivity can coexist at the same time. The gap between the two is a lack of focus on behavior. Companies hire people, show them how to use personal protective equipment and then teach them how to perform the tasks they were hired to do. They typically do not train employees on ideal work behaviors, those attitudes they want workers to have while...

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Formal vs. On-the-Job Training

I have been doing a lot of training and evaluation work over the past few years, and I have started to notice a trend. The workers who have had a formal in-depth training experience have a better perspective about the theories behind why they are performing certain tasks. Workers that are trained on the job are good at the tasks, but do not really understand why they perform the tasks that way. The Formal Training Process Let’s look at the training process that goes with a formal program. The worker is trained – via both classroom and hands-on training – on theories of electrical functions,...

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How S.A.F.E.T.Y. Brought Bluebonnet Through the Fires

It was Labor Day weekend of 2011, around 2 p.m., when I received a call that there was a fire in my hometown. A big part of Bastrop County, Texas, was burning and thousands of people were being evacuated – friends, co-workers, neighbors and me. Details were scarce, but there were poles and transformers on fire and lines on the ground. My employer at the time, Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative, believes in working and living its six foundation values: safety, courage, respect, reliability, community and love. Work got under way quickly, responsibly and safely. Bluebonnet’s emergency action plan,...

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