Tag: Voice of Experience

Understanding OSHA’s Rules for T&D Equipment Grounding

There seems to be a question of the month every month. Recently I’ve answered a lot of questions about when and how to ground distribution and transmission equipment, particularly bucket trucks, uninsulated line trucks and cranes. My standard response to those questions is, “What is required by the OSHA regulations?” I know some people do not like to attempt to read the regulations and interpret their intent, so in this installation of “Voice of Experience,” I’m going to review OSHA 29 CFR 1910.269(p), “Mechanical equipment,” which addresses equipment grounding. Specifically, 1910.269(p)(4)(iii)...

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Overhead Line Work, Then and Now

Overhead line work requires much planning beforehand and total attention when it is being performed. Recently I’ve had several requests to discuss this kind of work, so I’m going to take you back to the days when I was a lineman and, later, a crew supervisor to aid in this discussion of overhead jobs. When I first became a lineman in 1972, I was hired as a helper on a line crew. The job was trial by fire in those days. There was so much material to learn, but there wasn’t much in the way of training schools back then – almost all of my training was of the on-the-job variety. Lineworkers would...

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System Operations: Who’s in Charge?

System and utility operators are required by OSHA 29 CFR 1910.269(m) to have a procedure to de-energize their systems for protection of the employees working on those systems. The rules in 1910.269(m) do not specifically require a written procedure, but it is hard to imagine how an effective procedure could be maintained if it weren’t written. Unlike lockout/tagout, we refer to these programs as switching and tagging. Switching and tagging apply to transmission and distribution, including substations. The 1910.269 standard has a paragraph (d)(2) on energy control procedures for power plants...

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Sharing My Story: I’m a Male Breast Cancer Survivor

It was a beautiful October day in Captiva Island, Florida, where my family and I were on a short vacation at the end of the summer season. I was in a room of the condo we had rented. Housekeeping had recently damp-mopped the tile floor in the room, and as I walked across it, I slipped and took a fall that resulted in a concussion after my head hit the tile. Thankfully, the concussion was minor, the embarrassment of the fall was short-lived, and my bruises healed quickly. While assessing my injuries, however, I found a mass on the left side of my chest that seemed odd to me. Thinking it was an...

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Lone Worker Limitations

Over the years, I’ve received numerous questions about which duties lone workers can safely and legally perform, and which ones require more than one qualified worker to complete. Tasks that require at least two qualified employees are defined in OSHA 29 CFR 1910.269(l)(2)(i), which states the following: “Except as provided in paragraph (l)(2)(ii) of this section, at least two employees shall be present while any employees perform the following types of work: installation, removal, or repair of lines energized at more than 600 volts; installation, removal, or repair of deenergized lines if an...

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Inspect and Test to Prevent Wood Poles from Falling

It happens every so often – and more often than it should. A lineworker climbs a wood pole and the pole falls. With the advent of 100% fall protection, the climber is assured serious injury and often death if a pole falls while they are tied to it. Several of these types of incidents have occurred in recent months. The first question is, why didn’t those poles get checked before anyone climbed them? The next question is, what can we do to prevent future falls? Correct Depth is KeyFirst and foremost, correct depth is what keeps a pole in the air. Most companies have a specification that determines...

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Is it Maintenance or Construction?

Is it maintenance or construction? That’s a question that was asked regularly by industry workers for many years. These days, we can thank David Wallis and the committee members who diligently worked on the OSHA 29 CFR 1910.269 and 1926 Subpart V final rule published in 2014 for clearing things up. To better understand the value of the final rule, let’s review some brief history of the two standards. In 1972, the construction standard for building transmission and distribution systems was completed. Did you notice there was no mention of generation in that standard? We will address that shortly....

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Opinion: Looking to the Future During an Unprecedented Time

As I sit and write this article, I’m also gazing into my crystal ball, so to speak. I realize that life as we knew it just a few short months ago has changed. COVID-19 has made its way around the world and we are now working during an unprecedented time. Utilities have been designated as essential services, requiring employees to continue working as normally as possible, but with the pandemic in the background each day, I think it’s safe to say we are establishing a new normal. Back in the 1990s, I worked with an executive who once said, “Normal will never come back.” He was referring to...

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Voice of Experience: The Need for Seasoned Industry Trainers

Providing accurate, effective training to workers is one of the electric utility industry’s most pressing challenges. From my perspective, there are not enough appropriately qualified trainers to fill the open jobs available. As our industry’s attrition rate continues to increase, will we be able to provide the right training to new and existing employees? Each day, there are lineworkers being given work to do for which they are not adequately trained, endangering them and their co-workers. We need trainers to help correct this problem so that fewer lineworkers are hurt on the job. I mentioned...

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