Utility Safety PPE Articles

Scott Margolin

Keys to Evaluating and Comparing Arc-Rated and Flame-Resistant Fabrics

Keys to Evaluating and Comparing Arc-Rated and Flame-Resistant Fabrics

When determining what type of protective clothing to purchase, the first thing specified by a significant number of safety professionals is the flame-resistant (FR) or arc-rated fabric brand. The number, type and source of these fabrics have expanded dramatically in the last few years as new offerings chase profits in an expanding market. There have also recently been significant failures, making it more critical than ever to thoroughly research and select trusted, market-proven brands. These failures can occur on several levels; one recent issue involved the failure of a fabric to be flame resistant when new, while another involved FR failure after laundering. Other failure modes include huge numbers of garments that had to be removed from service within months instead of years due to very high shrinkage, and a dire situation in which the fabric itself was toxic, resulting in the hospitalization of more than 100 lineworkers in Australia.

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Will Vereen

FR Layering Techniques

FR Layering Techniques

With new revisions to the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC), many electric utilities and contractors are discovering that a standard HRC 2 program is no longer adequate. Numerous companies are now turning to layering of flame-resistant (FR) garments to achieve the required levels of protection. Well-designed, well-managed layering programs will increase worker safety and comfort. This article will discuss why layering is important and how to ensure that your layering program works.

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Heath J. Haukland, CUSP

Back to the Basics: PPE 101

Back to the Basics: PPE 101

Have you ever noticed that management likes to show up to monitor the helicopter operations? Doesn’t it seem like all the attention is paid to helicopters, stringing operations and setting 500 kV transformers? Does the same crowd show up when one of your workers is trimming trees on the right-of-way (ROW) without a face shield or chaps? Or when someone is wearing an unbuttoned FR shirt with the sleeves rolled up? How about when you climb into a vault with an attendant that’s too busy texting his girlfriend to make sure that your air monitor was calibrated recently?

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Hugh Hoagland

Five PPE Safety Challenges

Five PPE Safety Challenges

In 2012, both NFPA 70E and the NESC will change personal protective equipment (PPE) and give guidance to utilities and industrial electrical workers that they haven’t previously had. Under NESC 2007, low-voltage (LV) work in utilities had only basic coverage. If 4 cal/cm² arc flash PPE clothing was worn, the company was in compliance. There was no requirement to do an arc flash assessment if 4 cal/cm² clothing was used.

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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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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Solid Footing

Solid Footing

In a few years I’ll be 60. I’ve been in the business now for 37 years, but no one ever talked to me about how to care for my feet until I finally had to go to a podiatrist a few years ago. When he looked at my X-rays he said, quite confidently, “You are a lineman right?” It seems he had seen the picture several times before.

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John Boyle

What Does NFPA 70E Mean To You?

Many electrical workers and engineers are familiar with the phrase “NFPA 70E,” but don’t have a good understanding of what the standard includes. The following Tailgate Topic is a summary of the standard and what it means to you as an electrical worker.

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Pam Tompkins, CSP, CUSA, CUSP

Arc Flash - Are You in Compliance?

Some utility personnel have resisted arc-flash compliance with the presumption that arc flashes and blasts are not a major issue for the utility industry. Organizations and standards committees such as IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), NFPA70E (National Fire Protection Association), EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute), CRN (Cooperative Research Network) and others confirm this as a false statement. An IEEE study concluded, “To decrease the number and severity of non-fatal electrical burn injuries, direct worker exposure to electrical arc energy must be reduced.”

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Rick Tobey, CUSP

PPE The Last Line of Defense

If you consider personal safety equipment inconvenient and uncomfortable to wear, you may want to consider the alternatives.

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Carla Housh

Free Climbing vs. Safer Climbing

San Diego Gas & Electric recently hosted a Western Fall Restraint Conference. SDG&E is moving forward in establishing safer climbing practices and knew they would benefit from bringing their western partners together to share what has worked for them in launching a new program, best practices, equipment concerns and overall experiences.

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Kate Wade

Effective Fall Protection for Utility Workers

A review of the relevant standards and training that companies need to provide.

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Bob Coffey

Cold Weather Prep

Understanding the principles of layering

Anyone who has grown up in any climate that includes cold weather has heard it said that to stay warm you have to layer. This holds true for the bitter cold of winter to moist cold spring evenings.

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Hugh Hoagland

Top Five PPE Mistakes

Identifying PPE Mistakes in Electric Arc Flash Programs

After a decade of electric arc testing, incident investigations and incident replications using electric arcs, a few lessons have emerged as critical in assessing a Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) program:

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Scott Margolin

The Burning Question

Is 100 percent cotton protective in an electric arc flash? While lab tests say so, real life experiences say no!

It is widely understood that clothing made from non-flame resistant synthetic fabrics, such as polyester, nylon and polyester/cotton blends, are not appropriate when working on or near electrically energized parts and equipment. If these garments are exposed to an electric arc flash, they can ignite, melt and drip, which can lead to severe contact burns to the skin. In fact, the OSHA 1910.269 and NFPA 70E standards prohibit this type of clothing.

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Lee Marchessault, CUSP

Fall Protection by the Numbers

A simple and effective system for ensuring proper fall protection.

The development of an effective fall protection program has long been a tough issue to deal with. Many of the hazards that utility workers face often seem impossible to provide adequate protection for without introducing some other unsafe condition. And once systems are developed, getting workers to use them is another problem.

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