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Incident Prevention Magazine

Jesse Hardy, CSP, CIT, CUSP

Leading Change Through Faith, Hope and Tough Love: Part I

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The operations director stood before his direct reports, boiling over with anger.

“Here we are again!” he said. “Still plagued with the same production, quality and safety issues – problems that we’ve cussed, discussed and created improvement plans for over and over again. I don’t know what’s wrong with you and your people, but we’re going to get to the bottom of this right now. To be brutally honest, I’m not sure that everyone in this room will still have a job next month if you don’t start implementing the changes that will get us different results. So, who wants to kick off this meeting with an idea about how we can become the best division in this company?”

And then there were crickets, only to be interrupted by moments of meaningless, self-protective chatter.

Does this scenario sound familiar? I hope not. The problem is, however, that people are fallible, lessons sometimes aren’t learned, and improvements aren’t always made. This can leave leaders and team members feeling frustrated or apathetic because they don’t know how to right the ship. Regardless of how close this scenario hits to home, what we’re going to discuss in this two-part article will enable you to find greater success today and learn what you need to improve tomorrow.

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Frank Brinkley

Creating a Culture of Safety Through Elite Leadership

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Leaders play a pivotal role in creating a safe work environment that brings out the best in their people and produces quality results. And this doesn’t just mean leaders at the top but at every level of the organization. Leadership isn’t a difference maker – it is the difference maker.

The pathway to better safety performance in an organization or on a team begins with understanding the physics of performance. Leaders create the culture, the culture drives and supports behavior, and behavior produces results. Nothing impacts safety behavior and performance more powerfully than culture, and nothing impacts culture more powerfully than leadership. Simply put, if you get your culture right, you will win at safety; get it wrong and you will struggle with safety. Now, let’s take a deeper dive into the physics of performance.

Behavior, Culture and Leadership
The ability of people to apply their job-specific knowledge in a safe and productive manner is largely dependent on their behavioral skills, including how they communicate, make decisions, manage their attitudes, deal with stress and interact with others. Task-specific knowledge and technical skill are essential, but behavior-related issues are the biggest drains on safety performance in most organizations. Behavior is the one thing that affects everything, and culture is what drives and supports how people behave. 

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R. Scott Young, CUSP

Line and Substation Insulator Refresher

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Years ago, a rare event happened in the service area of the company I was working for at the time. Sea fog had rolled in and blanketed most of the system along the coastline where the generation was located. It contaminated the insulators and tripped major circuits everywhere. All of the substation and line crews worked hard to clean the insulators and get the system restored. It took a full day to get the system back to normal, during which all of us learned a great deal about insulation. One crew in particular will probably always remember that day. While they were getting ready to switch out a section of 230-kV bus in a substation, electricity tracked down the insulator right above their heads. Fortunately, no one was injured, but there was a lot of high stepping and gravel flying.

Nearly everyone reading this has worked with insulators of various sizes and shapes. For me, it was in substations. You learn to trust the equipment with your life. What prompted this article was a website discussion I read about best practices for maintaining and cleaning insulators and bushings for testing. There were some interesting suggestions. The question is, how do we know where to get the correct information to help us in our work? Safety is our primary guide. Our second guide should be manufacturer guidelines. In the early years of our industry, we were instructed to “go do it” and not given much direction or specifics about how to perform the tasks we were assigned. So, we used a variety of methods and materials to clean and install insulators. Some were good, others not so much. But today we have the world at our fingertips: websites, phone numbers and access to almost any kind of information from a variety of sources. The problem remains, however – we must know how to determine if we have and are using the correct information.

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Pam Tompkins, CUSP, CSP, and Matt Edmonds, CUSP, CIT, CHST

When OSHA Electric Power Safety Standards Apply

Welcome to the first part of what will be a six-part series focused on OSHA’s electric power standards. We will start this series with a discussion about when the standards apply. Future articles will cover what is in the standards plus provide you with some practical ways to apply them.

If you have tried to read OSHA’s electric power standards, you may find them difficult to interpret and apply. Always keep in mind that each part of the standard was written to address a specific hazard that must be controlled. The standards outline the minimum controls you are required to put in place, so that is why OSHA standards are considered minimum performance standards. If you always begin by identifying the hazard, you may find that the application of the standard becomes somewhat simplified.

Why Does OSHA Have Electric Power Standards?
Employees who work on and around electric power installations face unique electrical system hazards with potentially high risks. OSHA estimates their electric power standards will prevent approximately 20 additional fatalities and 118 additional serious injuries annually. Each portion of OSHA’s electric power standards is designed to address electric power system hazards that workers are exposed to when performing covered work that falls under general industry or construction. 

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Danny Raines, CUSP

Inspect and Test to Prevent Wood Poles from Falling

It happens every so often – and more often than it should. A lineworker climbs a wood pole and the pole falls. With the advent of 100% fall protection, the climber is assured serious injury and often death if a pole falls while they are tied to it.

Several of these types of incidents have occurred in recent months. The first question is, why didn’t those poles get checked before anyone climbed them? The next question is, what can we do to prevent future falls?

Correct Depth is Key
First and foremost, correct depth is what keeps a pole in the air. Most companies have a specification that determines a pole’s installed depth based on its length. Another resource you can refer to is ANSI O5.1, “Wood Poles – Specifications and Dimensions.” Essentially, the taller a pole is, the deeper it needs to be buried in the ground to ensure it is stable. Across the industry, it is not uncommon for utilities to teach this rule of thumb: 10% of the pole height plus 2 feet.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

October-November 2020 Q&A

Q: We have a crew performing pole change-outs with the line energized. They are suspending phases with a link stick and digger derrick to provide more clearance between phases to install new poles and hardware. The question is, can the operator leave the controls with the phase lifted? We thought they could, but it seems there has been a change to OSHA 29 CFR 1926.1417(e).

A: The good news is that you cited the wrong rule. Pole change-outs fall under the 1910.269 operation and maintenance rules. You cited the rule for construction (OSHA 1926). The operation and maintenance rule – found at 1910.269(p)(1)(iv) – states the following: “The operator of an electric line truck may not leave his or her position at the controls while a load is suspended, unless the employer can demonstrate that no employee (including the operator) is endangered.”

Of course, it’s not as simple as that. The likely intent of both the operation and maintenance rule and the construction rule is to give an operator a break from the seat for inclement weather exposure or water or bathroom breaks. The issue with the construction rule is that the lift must meet “all of the following,” which are these requirements: no other duties for the operator, the operator stays next to the lift equipment, the equipment is stabilized and locked down, and barricades block the fall zone. Those requirements reflect the Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard (1926.1417(e)). The only requirement with the operation and maintenance rule is assuring no one is at risk.

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David McPeak, CUSP, CET, CHST, CSP, CSSM

Emotional Intelligence: Perceive and Apply Emotions in Yourself and Others

“Anyone can become angry. That is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way – that is not easy.” -Aristotle

From an early age, many of us were taught that there are bad words we shouldn’t use. I won’t provide any examples here, but I suspect most readers know which words I’m referring to. In our industry, there are other “bad” words that we have learned we should avoid at all costs – because they are perceived to show signs of weakness. These words include “feelings,” “relationships,” “emotions” and “caring.”

My personal observation is that many organizations and individuals have become more accepting of these words due to increased understanding of leadership and human performance. Still, quite a few of us want nothing to do with emotions and feelings, and that is such a shame. We are missing out on a great number of opportunities for personal and professional growth and success.

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