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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

October 2014 Q&A

Q: I can't seem to clarify what U.S. Department of Transportation hours-of-service rules apply to utility workers. Are we exempt from the rules?

A: The university studies and experience of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that prompted the hours-of-service rules do have some value to us as an industry with drivers. The data used to form the rules shows that fatigue affects performance. This is a model that can help us to establish safe practices with our drivers. However, there is good reasoning for exemptions when the work we do ensures electrical service for users that helps keep them safe and healthy. And because of this reasoning, there are utility exemptions for driver logs as well as hours of service, which include time behind the wheel as well as other work performed by a driver. By the way, FMCSA clarifies that when calculating hours of service, line work or any other work for the employer – including work not associated with driving – is classified as on-duty not driving time.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Train the Trainer 101: Fall Protection and the New Rule

With the publication of OSHA’s new final rule regarding 29 CFR 1910.269 and 1926 Subpart V, the fall protection rules have changed – somewhat. Both the general and construction industries have had fall protection rules in place since the advent of workplace safety rules, including the duty to have fall protection found in 1926.501. However, provisions specific to the industry have enabled utilities and their contractors to operate under fall protection exemptions for poles and similar structures. That is no longer the case.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

August 2014 Q&A

Q: Can a boom truck be used as a manhole rescue device? I’ve heard that OSHA rules prohibit boom truck use because the truck has too much force, resulting in greater harm to the employee in need of rescue.

A: There may be issues with a boom truck as a rescue device, but its use is not prohibited in the situation you mention. Based on the criteria for rescue, however, it’s possible that the use of a boom truck may not be your best option. Incident Prevention does not advocate this method nor any other particular method of rescue from a manhole, but we do make every attempt to give you the information you need to make the right decision.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

The Final Rule

We have been expecting it since 2005. It's here, and it's big. The OSHA final rule regarding 29 CFR 1910.269 and 1926 Subpart V was announced April 1, popularly known as April Fools’ Day. The significance couldn't have been missed by those at the U.S. Department of Labor. Who says they have no sense of humor? The unofficial PDF version published April 1 has 1,607 pages. The official version – published April 11 in the conventional three-column Federal Register format – has a mere 429 pages. The final rule becomes effective July 10.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

The Final Rule

We have been expecting it since 2005. It's here, and it's big. The OSHA final rule regarding 29 CFR 1910.269 and 1926 Subpart V was announced April 1, popularly known as April Fools’ Day. The significance couldn't have been missed by those at the U.S. Department of Labor. Who says they have no sense of humor? The unofficial PDF version published April 1 has 1,607 pages. The official version – published April 11 in the conventional three-column Federal Register format – has a mere 429 pages. The final rule becomes effective July 10.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

June 2014 Q&A

Q: Can you help us with regard to fall protection practices while working on top of a roof or in areas near substation transformers? We are aware of the exceptions for qualified climbers in OSHA 29 CFR 1910.269. How does that affect us?

A: Most utilities will tell you that they don't require fall protection to work a weatherhead on a roof. Many have no fall protection requirements or programs for working on top of transformers. I am aware that some utilities use the definition of a working surface issued by OSHA – at least once every two weeks or for a total of four man-hours or more during any sequential four-week period – as proof that a roof or transformer top is not a work surface and therefore an exception. (See December 18, 1997, OSHA interpretation letter to Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. at https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=INTERPRETATIONS&p_id=22508.)

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Train the Trainer 101: OSHA Forklift Certification Requirements

There are two rules I see consistently violated in utility operations. Coincidentally, one of them – fall protection on roofs and substation transformers – happens to be addressed in this issue’s Q&A.

The other is certification and licensing for forklift operators as required by OSHA 29 CFR 1910.178(l)(6), “Certification,” which states, “The employer shall certify that each operator has been trained and evaluated as required by this paragraph (l). The certification shall include the name of the operator, the date of the training, the date of the evaluation, and the identity of the person(s) performing the training or evaluation.”

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Recent Comments
Guest — Jordan
Very informative post! It's important to keep all of these things in mind when training others to use a forklift. Thanks for shari... Read More
Monday, 02 March 2015 11:06
Guest — Zach
Have they modified the forklift training recently? At my last job, the training was from a video that was pretty old. I think they... Read More
Friday, 29 May 2015 09:39
Guest — Jim Vaughn
OSHA has not changed the requirements but as you have experienced employers use different methods to accomplish the training. Not... Read More
Friday, 29 May 2015 10:00
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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Train the Trainer 101: Safety Incentive Programs

Safety incentive programs are popular and get a lot of attention. This edition of “Train the Trainer 101” is designed to spark your imagination by reviewing some of the issues and answers that can help an administrator decide how best to award or recognize safety performance.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Train the Trainer 101: Practical Elements for Developing a Safety Culture

If you have been a safety person for any time at all, you have heard someone say, “I can't believe they did that!” It is usually in the context of an incident investigation. As the interviews are completed and the evidence is analyzed, it comes to light that the crew did something completely out of character, or maybe even violated a well-known rule or procedure. Sometimes we find out that the crew involved had just completed training or attended a safety meeting regarding the very risk that caused the incident.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Train the Trainer 101: Grounding Trucks and Mobile Equipment

A few years ago at a company I worked for, an experienced, highly trained professional lineman, thinking he was lifting a truck ground, inadvertently lifted the ground rod connection for a transmission circuit bracket ground. Induction current instantly killed him as though he had made contact with an energized phase. The genesis of the incident was largely a lack of attention to details as everyone seemed to be aware of the risks and understood the purpose and need for the grounding that was installed.

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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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Recent Comments
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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