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Incident Prevention Magazine

After 25 years as a transmission-distribution lineman and foreman, Jim Vaughn, CUSP, has devoted the last 20 years to safety and training. A noted author, trainer and lecturer, he is a senior consultant for the Institute for Safety in Powerline Construction. He can be reached at [email protected].

Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Train the Trainer 101: Why You Need More than 1910 and 1926

OSHA, like MSHA, publishes regulations for the employer to follow to promote safety in the workplace. The methodology of the regulations is to establish performance goals. Regulations do not establish procedures according to OSHA, even though they may occasionally require certain actions. One example is requiring barricades and equipotential mats at grounded equipment to protect workers from voltage gradients.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Passing the CUSP Exam

Passing the CUSP Exam

The Utility Safety & Ops Leadership Network's Certified Utility Safety Professional exam is like no other in the safety industry. There is strict criteria an individual must meet to sit for the exam, and the exam itself is challenging, but for good reason. From the beginning, members of the USOLN exam development team challenged ourselves to create a valid process to identify the skills a utility safety professional should have, and then to establish a process to validate those skills. The culmination of these processes is the CUSP credential – a reliable means for employers to identify safety professionals with the skills required to be capable safety leaders and reliable workplace safety resources.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Train the Trainer 101: Live-Line Tool Maintenance Program

Around 2009, a hot-line crew working in the Southwest had a transmission phase suspended under a hot stick while replacing a suspension string. The observer on the ground was the first to spot it. The crew was warned and looked up to see their rated hot stick smoking, all the more urgent because at the time they had no safe place to land the phase. The day was freezing and windy, not uncommon for that part of the Southwest. The wind was picking up dust and then mixing with sleet. The sleet started to adhere to the stick, creating a path to the steel crane line. Thinking quickly, the crew knocked the ice off the stick, lowering the chance of flashover. They also took that stick out of service.

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Guest — Eddie
Do the sticks have to be dry tested and wet tested?
Wednesday, 27 August 2014 16:42
Guest — Jim Vaughn
There is no speific requirement for both only either wet or dry. IEEE 978 the consensus standard entitled In Service Maintenance ... Read More
Wednesday, 27 August 2014 17:04
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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Train the Trainer 101: ASTM F855 Grounding Equipment Specs Made Simple

I define safety as identifying and managing hazards to prevent incidents. That is accomplished using a broad array of tools and rules for the employer and workforce. Good safety professionals and trainers have to go beyond the OSHA and MSHA regulatory text to completely understand the rules. That is where preambles to the standards, interpretations, CPLs and consensus standards are needed.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Bighorn Sheep vs. Lineworkers: What’s the Difference?

Lineworkers and bighorn sheep share many similarities. Both spend lots of time at height, often in precarious positions. Both are particularly outfitted for their respective specialties – the sheep by nature, the lineworker by technology – to ascend to great height inaccessible to those lesser equipped. Both possess unique skills and emotional constitutions to function in an environment that would make most people dizzy.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Train the Trainer 101: Understanding Grounding for the Protection of All Employees

I suspect that in the past 20 years the utility industry has grounded more circuits for the protection of employees than were ever grounded in the first 115 years of utility operations. Judging from the number of serious incidents and hazardous conditions created by temporarily grounding systems, it seems that we may not have understood all of the issues. It's almost intuitive; grounding makes the work safer, but for whom?

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Train the Trainer 101: Arc Hazard Protection

You have read and heard about all of the related standards for arc flash protection and you still don't have a program or even a plan for a program, right? In this installment of “Train the Trainer 101,” I will sift through the rules so you can begin a practical approach to creating an effective and compliant program. Obviously, we want to protect employees and well-developed programs accomplish that, but this article primarily focuses on the administrative side of compliance.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Train the Trainer 101: Working from Crane-Mounted Baskets

While the use of man baskets mounted on cranes is common to the utility transmission construction industry, it will surprise many that OSHA has clearly established their premise that cranes are designed to lift loads – not people – and that hoisting personnel with a crane is inherently more dangerous than using equipment designed to lift personnel. For this reason, it is important that safety planners and crews understand OSHA's intentions for crane-mounted baskets and the issues associated with their use. The crane and derrick standard regulates lifting of personnel, both in a crane-mounted basket and on a suspended platform. OSHA has directly stated that it considers a crane-suspended basket the same as a crane boom tip-mounted basket for the reason stated above (29 CFR 1926.1400 Subpart CC Preamble, page 48035).

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Train the Trainer 101: Enclosed Space Rescue

Following is a treatment of the complex subject of enclosed space rescue and it's a lot of information. I would like to just tell you what to do, but there is no single solution. Your background understanding of the relative standards, interpretations and directives is necessary for you as trainers and administrators to mount an effective enclosed space program.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Train the Trainer 101: Ferroresonance Explained

Ferroresonance is a complicated issue. It is important to familiarize crews with ferroresonance because as the number of URD systems installed increases and as systems age, the incidence of ferroresonance increases and so does the threat to equipment, service reliability and, most importantly, the safety of workers and customers.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

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

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 days he had his head in the cabinet, unaware that the primary leads for the transformer had been moved from the load side to the high side of the breaker contacts. For three days his pre-job hazard analysis entries included “check for voltage.” He survived, but not because of his hazard analysis.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

What’s Your Seat Belt IQ?

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 belt use.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Solid Footing

Solid Footing

In a few years I’ll be 60. I’ve been in the business now for 37 years, but no one ever talked to me about how to care for my feet until I finally had to go to a podiatrist a few years ago. When he looked at my X-rays he said, quite confidently, “You are a lineman right?” It seems he had seen the picture several times before.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

What Do We Do About Arc Hazard?

To be absolutely clear – there is an arc hazard in the utility workplace. There is also a need for protecting employees with arc protective clothing. If you are responsible for hazard mediation, you should have an arc protection program or at least a plan to begin a program. Regularly, people call me and ask what they should do about NFPA 70E: Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace; and therein lies the problem. NFPA 70E is not the solution to utility arc flash hazards.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

What You Need to Know About Substations

What You Need to Know About Substations

Beyond information peculiar to technical crafts, every person who enters a substation has a common need to understand substation grounding. This includes things to look for that might indicate problems in the station’s grounding system.

Substation grounding plays the primary role in several key aspects of fault clearing, equipment preservation and, most importantly, personnel protection as well as protection of the passing public. In fact, if the ground grid in a station were not in place, anyone standing next to a breaker that operates stands a good chance of being shocked, if not killed.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Tower Rescue Pre-planning Pays Off

Tower rescue presents a completely different level of difficulty in planning and methodology. Whether 250-ft communications or transmission towers, they are often necessarily placed in remote areas, and usually inaccessible to conventional paramedic rescue vehicles. While it is each individual employer’s responsibility to make their own determinations on how rescues will be accomplished, the following may help in preplanning for these unusual rescue situations. Pre-planning for rescue in these situations must answer several questions.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Notes From the Underground

In the May/June 2005 issue of Incident Prevention the cover article, "Why Single-Point Grounding Works," generated a lot of inquires about single-point worksite grounding in underground installations. The most frequently asked question was, "How do we create an equipotential zone for underground worksites?" I received inquiries from California to Maine, North Dakota to Florida. There were so many that IP asked if I could immediately address underground protective grounding for employees in this issue.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Why Single-Point Grounding Works

The pros and cons of single-point equipotential grounding, as opposed to working between your grounds or bracket grounding, has generated a lot of discussion. As found in IEEE-1048 Guide for Protective Grounding of Power Lines, single-point equipotential grounding is becoming more simply and accurately referred to as worksite grounding.
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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Training for the New Century

Experiencing high turnover?  Too many incidents?  The answer to these problems could lie in a new, innovative training program.

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