Tag: Worksite Safety

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Mother Nature vs. FR/AR Clothing

The company I work for receives a lot of questions about flame-resistant (FR) and arc-rated (AR) clothing, including inquiries about what should be worn on extremely hot summer days and very cold winter days. We’re always happy to answer those questions because it’s our business and – in the electric utility industry – donning FR/AR apparel often is necessary for workers’ personal safety. The fact is, extreme weather doesn’t appear to be stabilizing anytime soon. Both NASA and the American Meteorological Society have predicted that we can expect both more intense and more frequent heat and...

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Working in Switchgear Cubicles Just Got Safer

All of us who work with electricity know how hazardous it can be. During a stint with my previous employer, a co-worker and good friend was electrocuted and killed when he made contact with energized switchgear components. Another co-worker at the company also was seriously injured. Safety is always a part of our job; it’s something we talk about and practice every day, but given what happened to my two former co-workers, I felt that more needed to be done to establish a zero-accident workplace – more than just job briefings, using human performance tools and “living safely.” When it came to...

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Take Your Time and Follow the Rules – Or Pay the Price

The last time we met Bob the foreman and his crew, they saved the day when a vehicle hit a utility pole on a busy roadway in Safety County, New York (see https://incident-prevention.com/blog/safety-concerns-when-setting-wooden-utility-poles). These days, Bob and his crew are still in action, working for Sunshine Electric Co. At Sunshine, following company safety rules and industry best practices is as normal as breathing air. On this particular day, we find Bob prioritizing the unending string of planned field work assigned to his crew. His first priority for Sunshine’s customers is the list...

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Are You Taxing the Variables?

Planning is a critical part of our work in the electric utility industry. Inevitably there will be unknowns in each plan we put together; the more variables there are, the less control you have over your intended outcomes. So, it’s worth spending the time to identify and address those unknowns. In the remainder of this article, we will cover how to identify the critical elements and variables in your projects as well as how to weigh the consequences of those variables to help ensure the best possible outcomes for your plans. A friend of mine who is a psychologist once shared a story from her...

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When OSHA Knocks

Les Prudent was sitting at his desk on a Monday morning, savoring a cup of coffee and reflecting on his solar farm transformer company’s crazy year of growth. From four people three years ago, the company now employs 112. A friend from a local business group recently suggested Les hire a full-time safety coordinator, but he’s been comfortable handling those matters on his own. He just put some of those “Safety First” posters on the fabricating area’s walls. That should do it. His wife, Linda, who is also the company’s office and accounting manager, just stuck her head in the door and said,...

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Using Situational Awareness to Enhance Field Security

Recently I was on a conference call during which a client and I discussed aggression aimed at the client’s line crews and service technicians. As I hung up, I came to the realization that hostility toward utility workers isn’t a passing storm – it’s a bellwether of change in the public attitude. Aggression directed at utility workers is a critical issue that we must deal with effectively before more people are hurt.   The truth is, a growing number of people no longer see investor-owned, municipal and cooperative utilities as benevolent service providers. Instead, they see adversaries...

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The Safe Use of Outrigger Pads for Equipment Stability

An outrigger pad is a safety tool that can be used with any equipment that has outriggers, down jacks or stabilizers. It is a must for stability when a piece of equipment – such as a crane – lifts loads or personnel aloft. This article will provide an overview of outrigger pads, including how to use them safely and what kinds of pads are available on the market today. The BasicsOutrigger pads are placed on the ground under the equipment’s outrigger, shoe, float or foot. The size and thickness of the outrigger pads to be used should be selected based upon the type of equipment, soil conditions...

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Emergency Response Training for Electric Utility Workers

In my 40 years of electric utility experience, I have investigated and documented dozens of work-site incidents that required immediate emergency medical response from a crew. One pattern has become clear after debriefing workers who have rendered assistance at a scene: Workers who responded well to rescuing their co-workers used effective communication and competent delivery of job-site first aid, including CPR. Time and again, nearly all workers involved in successful emergency responses said, “I was just doing what I was trained to do.” Looking back on the history of the electric utility...

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Investigating and Documenting Slips, Trips and Falls

People are affected by gravity at every moment of their existence. There is an ongoing struggle between this planet, which never stops trying to pull things to its center, and humans who are trying not to be overcome by the pull. In the battle against gravity, humans rely on balance, coordination, traction and decision-making. In work environments, employers are responsible for managing hazards; reducing or eliminating hazards that could cause slips, trips and falls; training employees; and investigating incidents to prevent recurrence. The remainder of this article will focus on the investigation...

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