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Incident Prevention Magazine

Marilyn M. Velez, MPH

Drive Safe. Work Safe. Save Lives.


Members of the OSHA Georgia Struck-By Alliance and the Associated General Contractors of Georgia Inc. (AGC Georgia) will join thousands of employers and workers during this year’s National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW), which takes place April 26-30. This year’s theme is “Drive Safe. Work Safe. Save Lives. Everyone plays a role in work zone safety.”

NWZAW is an annual campaign sponsored by federal, state and local transportation officials to raise public awareness about the need to drive safely in work zones. The campaign is held at the start of the highway construction season and draws attention to the safety of road workers as well as motorists.

The Georgia Struck-By Alliance encourages participants to recognize NWZAW by conducting safety stand-downs at their job sites. During a safety stand-down, all work is stopped for 30 minutes to one hour and a focused safety meeting on one specific topic is provided. AGC Georgia explained that “these types of meetings provide effective communication of safety policies, goals and expectations through all levels of a team.” They recommend that participants conduct toolbox talks, perform safety equipment inspections, develop rescue plans or discuss job-specific hazards during their safety stand-downs.

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Mack Turner, CUSP

Overcome ‘Burnt Toast Syndrome’ to Improve Safety and Training Results


I have a beautiful and caring better half. She is always there for me. One of the things she does for me is make breakfast. Now, I am an old country boy, so any old breakfast won’t do. I want meat, eggs, potatoes and toast, and she is happy to prepare them for me.

One morning as I sat down for the breakfast she had prepared, I looked at my plate and right on top was the toast … and it was burnt. Now, I do not like my toast burnt. How dare she, after all these years, try to feed me burnt toast? So, what did I do? I grabbed the jam and smiled, I thanked my better half for my breakfast, and I ate the burnt toast.

After breakfast that day, I got up from the table and left for work. While I was driving, I could not help but think that my burnt toast was somewhat symbolic of our employee safety programs and the behavior and culture of our employees.

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Sharon Lipinski

The Biological Basis of Complacency


The adverse effects of complacency in the workplace have long been an ongoing source of concern in the safety community. What is not agreed upon is the reason for this problem. In my own experience, I have noticed that safety professionals use the term “complacency” in different ways to refer to different kinds of events.

The ability to address and solve a problem is greatly increased when the problem is properly understood, so I embarked upon a research effort to better understand this hazard. As a result, I produced a paper that explores a previously undiscussed component of complacency: basic brain design. Given how the human brain has evolved to operate, I argue that complacency is an unavoidable risk factor that can be managed but not eliminated. With this scientifically based understanding of complacency, safety professionals can more effectively prevent complacency from posing a risk to their employees’ safety.

The Symptoms of Complacency
Complacency is not an easily observable condition, and objective criteria can be elusive. Based on interviews with safety professionals, I compiled a list of anecdotal clues these professionals use to gauge the presence of complacency:

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Pam Tompkins, CUSP, CSP, and Matt Edmonds, CUSP, CIT, CHST

Minimum Approach Distances: What’s Required?

Let’s kick off this article with a definition of what “MAD” means in the utility sector – and it does not mean that we’re upset with you. The word is actually an acronym that stands for minimum approach distance, which is the calculated safe working distance that provides worker protection when working on or in the vicinity of energized lines and equipment.

As with other articles in this series, we must begin with the hazard. Remember, if you always begin by identifying the hazard, then the application of the OSHA standard becomes somewhat simplified. The hazard here is electricity that could result in electric shock or electrocution. Considering the consequences of the hazard, de-energization should remain the best safe work practice. When de-energization is not feasible, the hazard must be effectively controlled to provide a safe work environment. MAD has been developed to give workers a calculated safe working distance that will provide personal safety and operational security during energized line maintenance or while working in the vicinity of other energized lines. OSHA refers to MAD as “the closest distance a qualified employee may approach an energized conductor or object.”

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

A Practical Guide to Using Outrigger Pads

I’ve met a lot of people over the years while working in the utility industry. One of those people is in management with a respected manufacturer of aerial devices. Back when OSHA published 29 CFR 1926 Subpart CC, “Cranes and Derricks in Construction,” he and I and a few others were discussing how a utility operation could best comply with some of the standard’s requirements. The OSHA rules were formed with the perspective of typical construction sites in mind. In particular, we discussed the rule’s expectation that the site’s general manager will tell the crane operator about underground obstructions that might collapse and cause a crane to become unstable. It’s obvious that a crane operator setting structures on a right-of-way doesn’t have that luxury, so we were thinking about things we could do. The discussion landed on auxiliary outrigger pads. At the time, my friend from the aerial device company had this to say: “We have occasionally been sued by folks who turned over one of our cranes or aerial devices, but we have never been sued by anyone who had set up on auxiliary pads.”

I don’t know if that’s still the case with that company, but at the time I began to research why auxiliary pads appeared to be an important part of stable setup for aerial devices. Basically, it’s because sometimes even a few square inches of additional pad dimension can increase ground support by tons per square foot. When it comes to the four-point support of an aerial device that weighs in at tons, tons-per-square-foot increases are a good thing.

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Danny Raines, CUSP

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 that is much less rigorous than the traditional lockout/tagout for general industry found in 1910.147, “The control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout).” Part 1910.147 specifically exempts “installations under the exclusive control of electric utilities for the purpose of power generation, transmission and distribution …”

Most substation entry and system control centers also have additional rules they must adhere to per the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), including those pertaining to security and reliability of the bulk power systems across the U.S. and Canada.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

April-May 2021 Q&A

Q: I read the article “A Practical Review of the ANSI A92.2 Standard” in the October-November 2020 issue of Incident Prevention magazine (see, and I’d like to know, is there a standard for the construction of electrically insulating bucket liners? We have problems with the geometry of a bucket. Because the walls of the bucket and the bucket liner are separated, I need to know the tolerance or maximum distance between the walls of those elements. Can you help?

A: We don’t know of a standard for liners other than the paragraph for buckets with liners in the A92.2 standard. That rule covers the requirements that the liner be rated and capable of passing the appropriate test. The liner also must be supported by the bottom of the bucket, leaving fit in the bucket up to the manufacturer and the buyer of the liner.

Liners are not required if workers are comfortable with that. Many workers have been brought through the industry with liners and believe they are mandatory and safer than buckets without liners. Again, however, liners are an option, and many utilities and contractors use them as a secondary level of protection. If you are gloving from a Category B bucket, the bucket itself is not required to have any primary insulating value because your primary means of protection are gloves, sleeves and cover-up. The bucket and boom are secondary barriers for the protection of the worker. As to the liner, the rule only requires that it be supported by the bottom of the bucket; therefore, it must be tall enough that it is not supported by the lip of the bucket. In the same way, the sides must be narrow enough that they do not support the liner on the sidewalls.

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How Common is Common Sense?

How did you learn that a stovetop could be hot and burn you? Some would say that’s common sense, that human beings have an innate awareness of hazards, yet I’m guessing many of you learned the hard way – by touching a hot stove.

What about brushing your teeth? Have you ever hurt yourself doing that? When was the last time you locked your keys in your vehicle or slipped on a patch of ice? Have you ever run into a stationary object while driving? If you have common sense, none of these things should ever happen, right? Yet they do.

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