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Incident Prevention Magazine

Roger Crom and Jim Olson, P.E.

Best Practices for Using Your Aerial Device Jib to Handle Transformers


When it comes to lifting transformers, aerial devices equipped with jibs are one of the handiest tools available to lineworkers. Compared to old methods for transformer replacement – which required workers to climb the pole and use a pulley to manually lift the transformer – using a jib is safer, easier and more productive.

Most aerial devices sold to companies in the utility industry are equipped with jibs. However, not all jibs are the same, and the user should evaluate the type of work to be done when choosing the equipment for the job. Consider whether the tasks are construction or maintenance work on distribution or transmission lines. Before dispatching to the job, workers should know how the lines are situated relative to where the vehicle can be located. In addition, the weight of the load will determine the capacity of the aerial device and jib needed.

In the remainder of this article, we will provide an overview of the four key areas that inform good practice for using jibs: knowing your equipment, inspecting your equipment, knowing the load and understanding proper setup.

Know Your Equipment
There are many different styles of jibs with varying capacities available on different boom and platform configurations, including side mount, underslung, end mount and jibs that rotate with the platform. There also are fixed-length jibs, jibs that can be manually re-pinned to provide various extensions, and jibs with one or more sections that are hydraulically extendable. Some units are designed with the load line above the jib boom and some are below. Other jibs are equipped with sheaves that allow only non-overcenter lifting, while some can do either overcenter or non-overcenter lifting.

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Jesse Hardy, CSP, CIT, CUSP

The Hierarchy of Incidents and Learning: Part II


The contractor’s executive team sat across the table from the client’s construction leadership. It was the client’s director who spoke first.

“Let’s ensure everyone is on the same page,” he said. “Over the past six months, you’ve had numerous quality, production and schedule issues, an environmental noncompliance, two injuries and a utility contact that caused a 3,500-customer outage for over six hours. All of this has almost crippled three projects that we trusted you with, and we need to know how all this happened and what you are going to do about it.”

The contractor’s president looked up and humbly replied, “First, I want to apologize for breaking your trust. As for the ‘how’ question, there was no single cause. We missed a lot of good catches and close calls because we weren’t using those indicators on our operational and safety scoreboards, but things are different now. We have a new way of measuring success. What we’ve learned over the past few months is that our workers’ thoughts, attitudes and mindsets affect how much they respect the conditions and situations they face, and that level of respect becomes apparent in their behavior. We’ve been learning about and addressing these issues for the past month, and we’re beginning to see greater operational and safety success. However, we also have to change 52 years of culture, and that’s taking more time and effort than we would like. While I accept the fact that this change will be an ongoing, forever endeavor, I can confidently tell you that if we had begun this earlier, we wouldn’t be sitting here right now.”

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Derek Sang, CSHEP, QSSP

Mother Nature vs. FR/AR Clothing


The company I work for receives a lot of questions about flame-resistant (FR) and arc-rated (AR) clothing, including inquiries about what should be worn on extremely hot summer days and very cold winter days. We’re always happy to answer those questions because it’s our business and – in the electric utility industry – donning FR/AR apparel often is necessary for workers’ personal safety.

The fact is, extreme weather doesn’t appear to be stabilizing anytime soon. Both NASA and the American Meteorological Society have predicted that we can expect both more intense and more frequent heat and cold events across the country in the coming decades, with implications for both indoor and outdoor workers.

Given that information, it’s important that workers know what heat stress and cold stress are and what those types of stress can do to their bodies. So, let’s discuss some definitions of heat and cold stress, what can contribute to them, and what employers and workers can do to address them – including participating in a strong FR/AR clothing program. 

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Arc Flash and Face Masks

Recently I have received numerous emails and phone calls regarding respiratory air-filtering masks rated for arc flash. I’m sure everyone reading this, no matter what country you’re in, is aware why that’s the case: the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you are a regular reader, you know it is my methodology to address topics by first citing the related safety standards in effect and then discussing the issue from a practical perspective typically related to the utility industry. This time is no different – for the most part.

Initially, the use of masks during the pandemic was limited as effective respiratory protection and still is for the public per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As far as OSHA was concerned regarding workplaces, the only approved mask was the NIOSH-approved N95 filtering facepiece respirator (FFR). The N95 rating means that the mask meets the criteria for effective filtering of airborne particulates and moisture at 95%. The rating system also was established by NIOSH. It is important to understand that the N95 rating is based on the assumption that the masks are utilized by trained users meeting the OSHA respiratory protection worker training and fit-testing standard, which also can require a medical evaluation of the user.

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Danny Raines, CUSP

Opinion: Looking to the Future During an Unprecedented Time

As I sit and write this article, I’m also gazing into my crystal ball, so to speak. I realize that life as we knew it just a few short months ago has changed. COVID-19 has made its way around the world and we are now working during an unprecedented time. Utilities have been designated as essential services, requiring employees to continue working as normally as possible, but with the pandemic in the background each day, I think it’s safe to say we are establishing a new normal. Back in the 1990s, I worked with an executive who once said, “Normal will never come back.” He was referring to competitive rates and regulations, but the coronavirus pandemic, too, will forever change the way utilities do business. And that means that, as we continue to move forward, we will need to put an equal amount of emphasis on both employee health and safe work practices.

So, what are some of the things we should currently be aware of regarding COVID-19 and utilities? And what should we be thinking about for the future?

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

June-July 2020 Q&A

Q: Should we worry about beards in relation to arc flash? At our company, we think hair generally protects the body against extremes. Do you know of any evidence to the contrary?

A: Here is what we know: Human hair is protein fiber. It will burn when exposed to a flame but stop burning when the heat source is removed. Human hair does not melt; it becomes a fragile ash that turns to powder when crushed. This property is known as self-extinguishing. Hair is pretty much like cotton – it burns away. As such, it is not a hazard related to arc flash and actually provides some protection. OSHA does not address exposed hair any differently than the exposed body. It is up to the employer to decide if exposed hair increases employee risk as it pertains to arc flash hazards. If you were to analyze it from a practical perspective, you likely would agree with most of the safety experts we asked about it; they indicated that hair has a heat-insulating property and will not increase a burn hazard to the face provided workers abide by the appropriate arc flash standards of protection established by OSHA. However, there is an issue with some grooming products that may change the hair’s natural resistance to burning, which could be a problem for those lineworkers who use them.

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Motivators: To Improve Performance, Understand What Drives Your Behavior

So far in this six-part series, we’ve talked about learning styles and the DISC assessment. In this third installment, we’re going to dive into motivators, including an assessment you can take to determine your own personal motivators.

Greater self-awareness typically leads to greater personal and professional success. Self-aware people understand what their motivators are and recognize, among other things, that their motivators influence their behaviors and actions. People who understand their motivators are more likely to pursue the right opportunities for the right reasons and use their motivators to drive behaviors aligned with their desired outcomes, both of which make them more successful.

Below is a brief overview of seven dimensions of motivation based on the work of psychologists Eduard Spranger and Gordon Allport. Knowledge of these dimensions will help you identify your motivators and understand your unique behavioral drivers. After you read the overview, we also will take a look at how you can best apply your motivators – once you’ve established what they are – to achieve greater success. Keep in mind that most people are motivated in part by each of the seven dimensions, but every individual is unique as to how much or how little they are motivated by each one.

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