Incident Prevention Magazine

John Boyle

Understanding Step and Touch Potential

Summer storm season is upon us and with summer storms come downed wires, broken poles, and trees and branches that sometimes make contact with energized overhead conductors. This Tailgate covers some of the fundamental hazards of working on or around downed energized conductors, and the unseen hazard of step and touch potential.

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John Boyle

Working Safely with Chain Saws

The chain saw has become an invaluable tool for lineworkers and arborists who maintain electrical systems, whether it is used for accessing areas for routine maintenance, for tree trimming to ensure circuit reliability or to clear problem areas during storm restoration efforts. The chain saw is also responsible for approximately 30,000 injuries a year. To help you avoid becoming a statistic, this Tailgate covers the basics of chain saw safety.

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John Boyle

Managing Cold Stress

Cold weather has returned to most parts of the U.S. To help you make it through yet another winter, this Tailgate focuses on how to protect yourself from cold stress-related illnesses and injuries.

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John Boyle

Care and Maintenance of Climbers

Climbers are the most distinguishable tool of the line trade. They are offered in a variety of materials, including titanium, aluminum and steel. Styles include permanent and removable gaff, adjustable and nonadjustable climbers. This month’s Tailgate addresses the maintenance and care of climbers.

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John Boyle

Care of Portable Ladders

A well-maintained ladder that is properly used will provide a safe, substantial working position. This Tailgate discusses the proper practices for safe ladder use. Common sense and good judgment are needed when using a ladder, especially when ideal conditions do not exist at the job site. Inspection and minor maintenance as described below are the responsibilities of each worker who uses ladders to access heights.

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John Boyle

Combating Overuse and Overexertion Injuries

This month’s Tailgate focuses on what we can do to combat overuse and overexertion injuries. As every utility employee knows, our work at times is hard, dirty and dangerous. The demands of our job require much physical work. Whether climbing poles or towers, hand-digging holes or moving material from street to rear property, the machines most used and abused are our bodies. All this wear and tear takes its toll, and eventually the body signals overuse through pain and swelling. The types of injuries that can be inflicted often include back pain and problems with joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and other soft tissue.

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John Boyle

Safe Use of Portable Electric Tools, Cords and Generators

This month’s Tailgate is a review of some basic safety precautions to take when using portable electric tools and equipment. The focus is on prevention of electrical shock, specifically when using 120-volt AC portable electric tools, cords and generators.

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John Boyle

Communication: The Key to Great Safety

You’re a crew leader or even a supervisor and you really know your stuff, yet your crews aren’t quite following your direction. Something is amiss, but you can’t figure it out. Or maybe you’re a journeyman lineman, but your apprentice continues to not follow your direction. It’s becoming a problem for both of you that you’re not sure how to fix. In both cases, maybe it’s due to poor communication. We all can speak a language – some of us can speak many languages – but are we really communicating? Are you being heard? Most importantly, are you being understood? Communication and safety go hand in hand and without good communication skills, you may actually find yourself talking “at” people, not really communicating. The following Tailgate covers tips and techniques that can be used by anyone who really wants to make a difference in how they interact with and influence their crew members.

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John Boyle

Basic Electric Safety

For anyone who works at a construction site or around electrical equipment, knowing the basic dangers is an absolute must. The following Tailgate is a brief overview of the physics and hazards associated with electricity.

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John Boyle

No-Voltage Testing

This month’s Tailgate Topic covers the important task of no-voltage testing, sometimes referred to as absence of voltage testing or no-potential testing. No lineworker is ever excluded from the requirements of testing conductors to verify the absence of voltage when required, although methods and practices on how this is accomplished will vary among companies. The following is a basic overview of how to test both exposed conductors and cable. The steps provided here are demonstrative in nature and not intended to replace your local rules and procedures.

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John Boyle

Substation Safety

This month’s Tailgate covers substation safety. Substations have a set of unique rules that are strictly enforced by the governing utility or municipality, known as the designated authority. This article is only a guide that outlines the basic requirements for personnel entering and working in a substation.

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John Boyle

A Second Look at Safety Glasses

Safety glasses weren’t always considered part of everyday utility construction equipment. It was during the mid-1980s when companies really started embracing the use of safety glasses as mandatory personal protective equipment (PPE). Today you cannot step foot on a utility construction site without proper PPE, including safety glasses. Much has been accomplished in eyewear design, fit and comfort over the past 25 years, and many eye injuries have been avoided as a result of these significant changes. The purpose of this Tailgate is to cover some of the basics of safety glasses, as well as address some of the concerns about wearing them.

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John Boyle

Equipment: Back to Basics

In this month’s Tailgate we get back to basics and review some of the fundamental principles of crew safety when handling tools and equipment.

Principle 1: Prior to usage, inspect and test all tools and equipment in accordance with your company’s approved procedures.
Inspection and testing are cornerstones of worker safety. Inspect tools, equipment, ropes, knots and rigging as required by your company’s procedure or, if no such procedure exists, on a routine basis. Be sure to pay special attention to calibration dates, testing dates and manufacturer expiration dates. 

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John Boyle

Drop Zone Management: Expanding Our View of Line of Fire

This month’s Tailgate takes a closer look at a line-of-fire issue, specifically the drop hazard created when working aloft. Unfortunately, year after year utility workers are injured when objects are inadvertently dropped from heights, creating a significant threat for those on the ground. As we continue to refine the practices in our profession, the methods traditionally used for working aloft need to be examined and possibly modified. This will bring more control and safety to those on the ground who are near the overhead work being performed.

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John Boyle

Vehicle Operation Winter Readiness

Much of the country is currently in the throes of winter, dealing with snowy and icy conditions. It can be a dangerous time to be on the road, but the following Tailgate provides information to help you safely combat the perils of winter vehicle operation.

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John Boyle

Rubber Insulating Line Hose

Rubber insulating line hose (RILH) is a portable safety device designed to cover exposed energized power lines and protect workers from incidental contact. Insulating line hose comes in various configurations and shapes. Its purpose is to completely cover line or equipment to which it is applied.

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John Boyle

Hand Protection

In the electric, gas and telecommunication construction trades, hands rank at the top of the list of body parts most frequently injured. The following Tailgate provides an overview of work gloves and other considerations to ensure your hands remain injury-free from routine daily tasks.

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John Boyle

Compressed Gas Cylinder Safety

Compressed gas has become very commonplace in the utility industry. Flammable gases are used for cutting, burning and welding. Propane is used to heat mastic for piping or to melt lead for splices. Compressed gas fuels are used for fork trucks while refrigerant gases are used by fleet personnel. As a result, most utility workers are exposed to gas cylinders as part of their daily operations.

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John Boyle

Preventing Employee Exposure to Pesticides

Employees may occasionally encounter crops and substations that have recently been sprayed with pesticides. This Tailgate describes what to look for and the safe work practices to use to minimize pesticide exposure.

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John Boyle

Line of Fire

“Line of fire” is a military term that describes the path of a discharged missile or firearm. It’s the path an object will travel. In utility work there are many objects that have potential to create line of fire exposure.

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