Utility Safety Equipment Operations

Jarred O'Dell, CSP, CUSP

Trenching by the Numbers

Trenching by the Numbers

By and large, organizations directly provide the training and other resources needed for the development of their foremen and crew chiefs. Such training tends to be built around two components: following the standards set forth by OSHA and other regulatory agencies, and adhering to organizational policies and procedures.

This is a great approach but perhaps an incomplete one. Truly impactful safety training typically includes a third component: sharing of personal experience. For instance, I once observed a training session in which the instructor drew from his experiences during a discussion about how to troubleshoot problems that can likely be anticipated in the field. Often, this type of training is held in higher regard by trainees than that which simply outlines a standard. Furthermore, workers are more likely to become active participants in training sessions that highlight proven, real-world work practices that they can use to more safely and efficiently execute their tasks.

With this in mind, I began crafting a series of four articles that focus on trenching and excavation techniques and practices. My goal is to present advanced material – injected with my own on-the-job experiences as a safety director and instructor – to the seasoned foremen and crew chiefs who already have some practice working in and around trenching environments.

Continue reading
  8664 Hits
  1 Comment
Chris Grajek, CRSP, CUSP

Stringing Best Practices: Mesh Grips vs. Preforms

Stringing Best Practices: Mesh Grips vs. Preforms

When you ask lineworkers what differentiates their work from general construction, it’s not surprising that they will typically say they work with big lines at high voltages. Lineworkers take pride in keeping lines up and fixing them when they come down. We know that lines do come down inadvertently, and we also know that the losses resulting from such incidents can be substantial. No amount of regulation will combat these problems, so that’s where best practices come into play. Best practices establish the most common methods to achieve operational success within the parameters of regulations, provide work techniques inclusive of the collective trade experience and debunk field-level work practices that counter those efforts.

Each year thousands of miles are strung, and many lineworkers have likely wondered how many lines have dropped due to misaligned or misapplied practices. In fact, we asked this same question at Allteck, which prompted research into the matter; our goal was to compile the best working knowledge about some stringing problems commonly encountered by workers in the field. The prevention strategies regarding this topic appeared limited, and most stringing information related to post-incident countermeasures, such as the bonded and grounded stringing site.

Continue reading
  14638 Hits
  0 Comments
Jim Vaughn, CUSP

December 2015 Q&A

Q: I’ve been reading ASTM 855, IEEE 1048 and the National Electrical Code, and I’m a little confused by the practice of grounding through a switch. Can you help me better understand this?

A: In transmission/distribution applications, there is no issue with grounding through a switch. To explain, we always have to ask whether the issue is grounding through (in the path) a switch or grounding (by way of closing) a switch. The application may sound the same, but it depends on which standard you read. Our subject matter experts think the confusion lies in the well-known NEC rules, which require permanent installations to have a connection-free path for the ground electrode conductor at the service entrance of an electrical system. According to the code, grounds – except in some specialty connections – cannot be disconnected through operation of a switch or breaker contact. ASTM 855 is an equipment manufacturer's standard that has no application to utility practices in the field other than being used as a guide for shop construction, sizing, rating and assembly of personal protective grounds. IEEE 1048 does address the value of having the grounding switches closed when de-energizing a system for work; that ground switch is a very low-resistance path to earth at the feeder or transmission bus source that will lower fault current in an accidental or inadvertent energizing of the source. The ground switch in the station is also a path to ground that will divide and help reduce the amount of induction current on a circuit. Closing the switch can help reduce induction current at a work location, depending on how far apart the work location and the ground switch are.

Continue reading
  8667 Hits
  5 Comments
Brian S. Hope, ASP, CSP, CUSA

Rigging Fundamentals for Utilities

Rigging Fundamentals for Utilities

Over the past 20 years I have had the great opportunity to travel the country observing everyday safety practices in the utility industry. During this time it has become clear to me that, more often than not, employees are practicing inadequate rigging techniques that put them and their co-workers at risk on a daily basis. These poor practices are being perpetuated from one generation of riggers to the next. Employees who learned improperly from previous trainers go on to train new employees in the same fashion. It seems that a number of workers have bought into the dangerous idea that unsafe practices are acceptable as long as they don’t result in a serious accident. This cycle of carelessness and endangerment is unacceptable and can only be stopped through adequate training and reinforcement of proper rigging techniques. We must revisit the most fundamental principles of rigging safety to build the foundation necessary to change our current culture. In this article I will discuss three of the most basic aspects of rigging – equipment selection, inspection and proper use – and I look forward to continuing the conversation when I present “Basic Rigging Fundamentals” on September 30 at the iP Utility Safety Conference at ICUEE.

Continue reading
  8734 Hits
  0 Comments
Raffi Elchemmas, AEP, MBA

Making the Switch

Making the Switch

It is an undisputed and well-known fact that workers’ use of manual tools increases repetitive movement, introduces awkward working postures and elevates the risk of ergonomic injuries and illnesses. Throughout the past decade, the utility industry has done a great job of recognizing these ergonomic safety issues, and a number of utility tool manufacturers have responded by developing new battery-operated tools and tool features that address them. Slowly but surely, ergonomic safety is increasing in the workplace as investor-owned utilities, contractors, cooperatives and municipalities make the switch from manual to battery-operated tools.

However, even with the progress that’s been made, there are many workers who are still using manual cutting and crimping methods on job sites across the country, which means those individuals face a greater likelihood of carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, sciatica, sprains, strains, soft tissue damage and other injuries.

According to the most recent data available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, among upper body injuries involving the repetitive use of tools, approximately 61 percent involve injury to the hands and wrists, 20 percent involve injury to the shoulders, 10 percent involve injury to the arms and 9 percent involve injury to the trunk and back. Signs of these of musculoskeletal disorders include decreased range of motion, decreased grip strength, swelling, cramping and loss of function. Other symptoms of these injuries include numbness, pain, tingling and stiffness.

Continue reading
  9091 Hits
  0 Comments
Laura McMillan

Arrive Alive

Arrive Alive

On a clear, sunny day following a fierce thunderstorm the night before, Mark drove off to work. The schedule for the day was busy with repairing downed lines in several heavily trafficked neighborhoods followed by some scheduled maintenance at a router station. Mark met up with his crew, reviewed the schedule and then the team headed out for what they expected to be a long day. The crew was experienced, though, so Mark felt confident they would be able to complete their list of tasks.

In the driver’s seat of the crew cab on the way to repairing the downed lines, Mark thought about the task ahead; it would pose a challenge, but he and his team knew the drill and felt comfortable navigating to the assigned areas. In fact, he had grown up in one of the neighborhoods on their route and knew a few shortcuts. They were somewhat off the mapped routes, but Mark and the rest of the crew felt they could save some time by following the shortcuts. Indeed, the crew did save some time and found themselves a bit ahead of schedule.

Continue reading
  9847 Hits
  0 Comments
Danny Raines, CUSP

Voice of Experience: Fundamentals of Underground Padmount Transformers

In recent months Incident Prevention has received several questions about underground (UD) padmount transformers, so in this installment of “Voice of Experience,” I’d like to take the time to cover the general aspects of these types of transformers.

To begin, there are a few different types of single-phase and three-phase UD padmounts: live front with exposed live primary parts, 600-amp bolt-on elbows and loop feed with bushings and elbows. All of these transformers are available in several voltage ranges.

The proper PPE must be worn when an employee is opening, entering and working on energized transformers. This includes a rated hard hat, eye and face protection, rubber gloves, heavy leather boots and arc-rated FR clothing. Additionally, all PPE must be worn by any employee exposed to energized equipment and cables until the transformer has been de-energized and checked for the absence of voltage, and all exposed parts have been properly grounded.

Continue reading
  12410 Hits
  0 Comments
Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Train the Trainer 101: The OSHA-EEI Subpart V Settlement

In February of this year, Edison Electric Institute (EEI) circulated an agreement with OSHA. This agreement – which can be viewed at www.osha.gov/dsg/power_generation/SubpartV-final-settlement.html – ended the petition for review filed over several new provisions of the April 11, 2014 final rule affecting the general and construction industry rules for transmission, distribution and line clearance work. The agreement as delivered consisted of the final agreement and four exhibits that specified the agreed-upon terms. Exhibit A is a series of 46 questions and answers reflecting more detailed terms of new enforcement dates and general terms of agreement found in exhibits B and C. Since the Q&A in Exhibit A and the scope clarification for line clearance tree trimming in Exhibit D are pretty straightforward, we won't treat them here, but we will attempt to simplify and illuminate as best we can the terms found in exhibits B and C. At the time of this writing, the agreements were not signed by all parties, but we hope and assume the agreement will go forward as written.

Continue reading
  7885 Hits
  0 Comments
Ken Palmer

Measuring, Planning and Cutting Methods for Chainsaw Operators

Measuring, Planning and Cutting Methods for Chainsaw Operators

The first two articles in this series discussed the risks of chainsaw operation as well as chainsaw safety, planning and precision felling techniques. In this final article, I will discuss several other topics that chainsaw operators should be knowledgeable about, including how to estimate tree height, make an open face notch and use felling wedges.

Estimating Tree Height
An important part of felling trees is the ability to estimate a tree’s height in order to determine its position as it falls, hits the ground and comes to rest. Accurate height estimation allows the operator to determine if felling the whole tree is truly the best approach in a given situation and, if it is, helps the operator to avoid hitting or brushing against obstacles, hanging up trees and leaving behind dangerous branch hangers. Remember that the height of the felling cut will affect the felling path and the position of the tree when it reaches the ground.

Continue reading
  12986 Hits
  0 Comments
Ken Palmer

Chainsaw Safety, Planning and Precision Felling Techniques

Chainsaw Safety, Planning and Precision Felling Techniques

Chainsaw operators have to be able to think on their feet and adjust to their surroundings. Accidents and injuries can be dramatically reduced, and productivity increased, when workers have the knowledge, training and skills they need to properly operate a chainsaw. In the following article – the second part of a three-part series – I will discuss a variety of components related to safely operating a chainsaw, including what operators need to know about PPE, body positioning and reaction forces. I will also detail a five-step felling plan used by chainsaw operators around the world that you can adopt for your company’s use.

Continue reading
  15694 Hits
  2 Comments
Ken Palmer

The Risks and Rules of Chainsaw Operation

Welcome to the first in a three-part series about arborist safety. In the second and third parts of the series, we will take a look at tree-felling and cutting methods as well as storm response techniques for utility workers. This first article, however, will give readers a broad overview of chainsaw safety, including powerful statistics, reasons why chainsaw operators struggle to follow safe work practices, and the essential education and training for workers who engage in chainsaw-related activities.

Continue reading
  22017 Hits
  0 Comments
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.

Continue reading
  4905 Hits
  0 Comments
Nathan Boutwell, CUSP

Mitigating the Risks of Aerial Patrols

Mitigating the Risks of Aerial Patrols

A safe and reliable operation is built on a foundation of strong, continually evolving programs that adapt to changing regulations. Federal requirements now mandate that electric transmission utilities perform annual vegetation inspections on all of their rights-of-way. To complete these inspections, many utilities rely on helicopters, which pose high risks due to low-altitude flying and close proximity to lines where the danger of a strike is always present.

Continue reading
  10875 Hits
  0 Comments
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.

Continue reading
  6398 Hits
  0 Comments
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.”

Continue reading
  48594 Hits
  12 Comments
Randy Fabry and Pam Tompkins, CSP, CUSP

Electrical Safety for Utility Generation Operations Personnel: A Practical Approach

Electrical Safety for Utility Generation Operations Personnel: A Practical Approach

Developing safe electrical work practices for generation personnel is an evolutionary process that can become extremely complex. South Carolina Electric & Gas Fossil/Hydro (SCE&G F/H), which includes nine large generation facilities and several other small peaking gas turbines and hydro units, quickly learned that even the choice of consensus standards – either the National Electrical Safety Code or NFPA 70E – can be a matter of debate when determining electric generation safe work practices. Although SCE&G F/H had an existing electrical safety program, updates in 2012 electrical consensus standards, along with a request from the company’s electrical safety committee for assistance, initiated a program update that eventually resulted in a total rewrite of the existing program.

Continue reading
  17762 Hits
  2 Comments
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).

Continue reading
  14363 Hits
  0 Comments
Seth Skydel

A92.2: The 2009 Standard

A92.2: The 2009 Standard

The Accredited Standard Committee (ASC) A92.2 Subcommittee for Vehicle Mounted Rotating and Elevating Aerial Devices of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has issued the long-awaited 2009 edition of the American National Standard for Vehicle Mounted Rotating and Elevated Aerial Devices.

Design and construction requirements of the original 1969 edition of A92.2 and its appendix were made a part of OSHA in 1970. Since then, the standard has been reissued in four editions in 1979, 1990 and 2001, and most recently in 2009. The 2009 Draft of the Standard was balloted twice by the committee and by ANSI rules was opened for public comment prior to final approval.

Continue reading
  43539 Hits
  0 Comments
Seth Skydel

Huskie Tools Opens New Fiberglass Restoration Division

Huskie Tools Opens New Fiberglass Restoration Division

A new offering for the utility industry that helps ensure worker safety cost effectively is now available from the new Fiberglass Restoration Division at Huskie Tools.

“Companies often store damaged fiberglass tools in a warehouse since they aren’t allowed to throw away assets,” said Fiberglass Division Manager Bob Welsch. “Those tools are just gathering dust, when in fact they can be repaired to like-new condition. Fiberglass restoration not only saves companies money but also keeps worn fiberglass tools out of landfills. Restoring your used fiberglass tools saves thousands of dollars versus buying new tools.”

Continue reading
  12240 Hits
  0 Comments
Kate Wade

Crane & Derrick Compliance

Crane & Derrick Compliance

New OSHA standard becomes effective November 8, 2010

OSHA’s new Crane and Derrick standard has a little something for everyone, including some unexpected compliance issues for the electric utility industry. Known as Subpart CC, the standard was years in development, pushed heavily to completion in the last years by serious and highly publicized crane accidents.

Continue reading
  22659 Hits
  0 Comments

KNOWLEDGE, INSIGHT & STRATEGY FOR UTILITY SAFETY & OPS PROFESSIONALS

Incident Prevention is produced by Utility Business Media, Inc.

360 Memorial Drive, Suite 10, Crystal Lake, IL 60014 | 815.459.1796 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
© 2004 - 2018 Incident Prevention. All Rights Reserved.