Utility Safety Management Articles

Danny Raines, CUSP

Voice of Experience: Flame-Resistant Apparel is Now PPE

It’s official: Flame-resistant clothing is now considered PPE, and employers are required to furnish it to employees when there is a chance that they may be exposed to electric arcs or flames. This change has been a long time coming as the industry has been in limbo for years. A number of forward-thinking companies have been furnishing arc-rated FR clothing to their employees for some time, while others have waited for regulations to require them to do so. The company from which I retired as well as other large investor-owned utilities have uniform policies that incorporated arc-rated FR clothing years ago.

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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.

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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.

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Richard J. Horan Jr., CSP, CUSP

Elements of an Effective Safety Committee

There are a number of components necessary to create and maintain a strong, effective safety committee. Key among them are employee involvement and evolution – that constant search for ways to improve both how the committee functions as a group and the results committee members produce. Other ingredients for success include ownership at all levels of the organization, a clearly defined committee charter, sponsorship, effective committee facilitation, and companywide communication about committee activities and progress.

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Randi Korte, CUSP

SRP Rope Access Program Addresses Towers of Power

SRP Rope Access Program Addresses Towers of Power

You’re working 120 feet above the desert floor on a high-voltage transmission line. A crewmate slips out of part of his rigging and hits hard against the skeletal metal superstructure of the lattice tower. The work site is miles away from town and emergency first responders. Your crewmate dangles perilously, dazed and perhaps critically injured. What do you do?

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Jim Boyd, CUSP, and Craig Lohrey

Responding to Pole Fires

Responding to Pole Fires

From time to time, most utilities with high-voltage systems have to deal with the problem of pole fires. While causes vary, fires always affect system reliability by damaging facilities and resulting in outages. Worse, it is hard to define the risk to workers dealing with a pole fire, especially when the fire’s cause is not easily determined.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Train the Trainer 101: Fall Protection and the New Rule

With the publication of OSHA’s new final rule regarding 29 CFR 1910.269 and 1926 Subpart V, the fall protection rules have changed – somewhat. Both the general and construction industries have had fall protection rules in place since the advent of workplace safety rules, including the duty to have fall protection found in 1926.501. However, provisions specific to the industry have enabled utilities and their contractors to operate under fall protection exemptions for poles and similar structures. That is no longer the case.

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Danny Raines, CUSP

Voice of Experience: OSHA Eye and Face Protection Standards

In this installment of “Voice of Experience,” we will take a look at the wording in OSHA 29 CFR 1910.133, “Eye and face protection.” A review of this standard is a great opportunity to gain a better understanding of what OSHA requires of both the employer and employee in order to properly protect these vital body parts in the workplace.

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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.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

The Final Rule

We have been expecting it since 2005. It's here, and it's big. The OSHA final rule regarding 29 CFR 1910.269 and 1926 Subpart V was announced April 1, popularly known as April Fools’ Day. The significance couldn't have been missed by those at the U.S. Department of Labor. Who says they have no sense of humor? The unofficial PDF version published April 1 has 1,607 pages. The official version – published April 11 in the conventional three-column Federal Register format – has a mere 429 pages. The final rule becomes effective July 10.

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Jim Phillips, P.E.

NFPA 70E Arc Flash Protection for Nonexempt Industry Workers

NFPA 70E Arc Flash Protection for Nonexempt Industry Workers

Editor’s Note: As defined in the scope of NFPA 70E, electric utilities, with the exception of certain commercial electrical installations, are exempt from the standard. If, as a safety professional, you have installations covered under OSHA 29 CFR 1910 Subpart S, “Electrical,” you are subject to NFPA 70E.

In the recently published 1910.269 and 1926 Subpart V final rule, OSHA prominently mentions NFPA 70E as a beneficial informational resource for employers regarding arc flash programs. NFPA 70E is referred to numerous times throughout the final rule’s preamble, demonstrating that even as an exempt industry, the 70E standard has an effect. OSHA makes reference to the value of the arc flash incident energy calculation methods as well as ways to protect employees from arc flash hazards (see Federal Register, Vol. 79, No. 70, page 20324).

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Mike Engelman

Injury Prevention Through Leadership, Employee Engagement and Analytics

Injury Prevention Through Leadership, Employee Engagement and Analytics

Safety is a core value and central to everything we do at Duke Energy. It is an ingrained part of how we operate the company, and we put safety first in our workplaces and communities. Our goal is for everyone we work with to return home safely each day.

We continue to drive a culture of safety through an excellence model comprised of three key elements: safety leadership, employee and contractor engagement, and robust safety processes. Everything we do – from activities and programs to safety improvement initiatives – falls under one or more of the elements that comprise the safety excellence model.

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Danny Raines, CUSP

Voice of Experience: Understanding Enclosed and Confined Spaces

What is the difference between an enclosed space and a confined space? Many companies do not acknowledge 29 CFR 1910.269(e), “Enclosed spaces.” Instead, they handle all spaces as confined under 1910.146, “Permit-required confined spaces,” and a few companies even handle them all as permit-required spaces. There may be some confusion and there certainly is much industry discussion about the spaces in which employees are asked to work. In this article, I will highlight several of the major differences between the spaces, as well as provide an overview of each of the OSHA standards.

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Allen L. Clapp, P.E.

Accident Analysis Using the Multi-Employer Citation Policy

OSHA regulations are promulgated under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, as amended. In accordance with the regulations, employers are obligated to provide both safe work and safe workplaces. They must adhere to requirements for training, supervision, discipline, retraining, personnel protection, job planning and job control.

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Ted Granger, CSSBB, CUSP

Sustaining Safety Successes

Sustaining Safety Successes

In recent years, the concept of sustainability has played an increasingly significant role in corporations. Traditionally, corporate sustainability is often discussed in some form of annual report and is based on addressing ecological, economic and social areas. These three areas need to be reviewed with efficiency and the effective use of resources in mind. Safety clearly fits into the social area as a human resource issue. As a result, safety should be considered as much of an imperative or a value as any other strategic initiative.

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Phillip Ragain

Understanding and Influencing the ‘Bulletproof’ Employee

Understanding and Influencing the ‘Bulletproof’ Employee

Some employees are regrettably willing to take risks, as though they believe that they cannot be injured. This is the challenge of the “bulletproof” employee. To influence these kinds of employees, we first need to understand why they take the risks that they do, and our approach to understanding these employees, as it turns out, is where the challenge starts. By breaking a handful of old habits and adopting a more useful model for understanding others' decisions and actions, we can become better equipped to tackle this challenge head-on and positively influence these employees.

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Danny Raines, CUSP

Voice of Experience: OSHA 300 Record-Keeping Rules

Every supervisor and manager should know who keeps the OSHA 300 log and what is required to document an entry. Every employee should receive awareness training about how entries are documented and what is looked for during an audit. The mystery behind the OSHA 29 CFR 1904 record-keeping standard is a result of its complexity and the confusing ways it is sometimes interpreted. I have been teaching record keepers for more than 25 years, dating back as far as the OSHA 200 days. I find it one of the most entertaining topics to learn about and teach, but it can also be challenging to fully understand. We need to remember that OSHA record keeping is a federal program. All workers’ compensation cases are not OSHA recordable, but all OSHA recordable cases are workers’ compensation cases. Due to the depth and breadth of this topic, I won’t be able to cover every detail in this article, but I will highlight areas that tend to create the most confusion for those who work in our industry.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Train the Trainer 101: Safety Incentive Programs

Safety incentive programs are popular and get a lot of attention. This edition of “Train the Trainer 101” is designed to spark your imagination by reviewing some of the issues and answers that can help an administrator decide how best to award or recognize safety performance.

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Barry Kropp, CUSP

Salt River Project: Devoted to Safety Excellence

Salt River Project: Devoted to Safety Excellence

It makes sense that an organization that helped turn an untamed portion of the American West into one of the nation’s great metropolitan areas would have a handle on how to keep people safe.

Salt River Project is a major water, power and telecommunications utility located in metropolitan Phoenix. SRP was created in 1903 through provisions of the National Reclamation Act to realize a dream of economic and civic growth in a rugged desert.

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Hugh Hoagland and Mikhail Golovkov

Addressing Comfort and Contamination in Arc-Rated Clothing

With the revised OSHA 29 CFR 1910.269 standard slated to soon be released, the last utility companies holding out on moving to arc-rated clothing will soon be compelled to do so as a matter of law. The new standard is likely to have the same language as the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC) and will require arc flash calculations for both primary and secondary voltages. NESC 2007 excluded secondary voltages, but the 2012 edition includes a requirement to perform arc flash calculations and does not discriminate against primary or secondary voltages. To follow calculations per the updated 1910.269 standard, worker apparel will be required to have an arc rating equivalent to the hazard. Most of the PPE will be 4, 8, 12, 20, 40 and 60 cal/cm² as described in the NESC.

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