Tag: Safety Management

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Strategic Safety Partners

In 2004, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) entered into the Electrical Transmission & Distribution (ET&D) Strategic Partnership agreement with six electrical contractors: Asplundh Tree Expert Co., Henkels & McCoy, MDU Construction Services Group, MYR Group, Pike Electric and Quanta Services; one union: the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); and two trade associations: the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and Edison Electric Institute (EEI). The primary objective of this partnership is to improve worker safety in the high-voltage...

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The Intersect: A Practical Guide to Work-Site Hazard Analysis

A hazard is essentially a condition or activity that, if left uncontrolled, may result in an accident or a serious injury. To effectively identify hazards, the observer must develop a means of recognizing a hazard exposure. What I see repeatedly in the field are hazard lists like “wear PPE, stay out of the bite, watch for cars, cover up well.” What I don’t see is an effective approach to identifying hazards. I had occasion to investigate a 4-kV contact in a metal-clad breaker where the worker brushed his hand against a control power transformer that had not been identified or tested. For three...

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Safety Rules and Work Practices: Why Don’t They Match Up?

What do safety rules mean to the organization? To the worker? Does having a safety rule mean it has to be followed 100 percent of the time, part of the time or not at all? Most employers and employees would say 100 percent of the time. So why do safety rules and actual work practices not match up every single time? Is the rule not known or not understood, does it not fit the application or has it always been done that way? In a recent survey by an electric utility, employees affirmed that there were often violations of safety rules, they did not always believe the safety rules were applicable...

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Hearing Conservation: An Interesting Challenge

Helen Keller has been quoted as saying that blindness separates you from things, but deafness separates you from people. While noise in the workplace usually does not produce the profound deafness that Helen Keller had, it can contribute to permanent hearing loss. As the quality of hearing aids has improved immensely over the years, people with mild to moderate hearing loss can often expect significant benefit from them. However, hearing aids usually do not improve hearing as effectively as glasses correct vision. On two occasions, I have witnessed men breaking into tears after learning that...

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Arc Flash Exposure Revisited: NESC 2012 Part 4 Update

The 2012 edition of the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC) hit the streets August 1. The updated code adds a new dimension to electric utility arc flash implementation with the inclusion of voltages from 50-1000V. Previous editions have required employers to assess voltages over 1000V for potential electric arc flash exposure and to provide clothing or a clothing system with an effective arc rating for the anticipated arc energy. Major ChangesNESC 2012 requires employers to assess low voltages, 50-1000V, for electric arc flash exposure. Many utilities are currently using NESC 2007’s exception...

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Safety Circuitry: The Power in the Brain

“What was he thinking?!” This frustrated question of supervisors, managers and safety professionals speaks directly to the future of safety in utilities. What are workers thinking when performing unsafe acts or walking past hazards, if indeed they are thinking at all? For companies to realize their goal of zero incidents, an understanding of thought, attention, motivation and decision-making is a must. They must now enter the realm inhabited by psychologists for decades, the world of the human brain. It has been said that while we are all born with a brain, no one gets an instruction manual....

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What’s Your Seat Belt IQ?

Seat belt use – or the lack of seat belt use – continues to be an issue on the road and on our job sites. It is obvious that some of our employees and even some of our supervisors don’t get it. Seat belt use is a mandatory Department of Transportation safety rule and it does not matter whether the truck is used on a roadway or right-of-way. OSHA 1926.601, which covers vehicles that operate within an off-highway job site, requires seat belts. If the legal argument is not convincing, maybe statistics will be. Not coincidentally, states with the highest crash fatality rates also rate low in seat...

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Competition for a Cause

Every June, a forest of 45-foot power poles suddenly sprouts in scenic Walla Walla Point Park along the Columbia River in central Washington state. It’s a sign that the best power linemen in the Pacific Northwest will soon head to Wenatchee for the annual Andrew York Lineman Rodeo. Entering its eighth year, the rodeo is hosted by the employees of five public utility districts (PUDs) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 77. It is held to honor Andrew York, a Chelan County PUD journeyman lineman who died in 2000 after being struck on the job by a drunken driver. Proceeds...

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Employee Training: How Hard Can It Be?

We all know high-quality training must take place to ensure the overall development of employees. Does having a well-trained employee mean the employee only attends a monthly safety meeting to gain training knowledge? Certainly not. Training should provide employees with a continual understanding of job task requirements, task-associated hazards and the appropriate abatement strategies for their safety. A monthly safety meeting may help validate these issues, but it cannot be the sole delivery method for training. Unfortunately, many employees receive no additional training beyond apprenticeship...

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