Utility Safety Management Articles

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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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.

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Ron Joseph, CUSP

Fact-Finding Techniques for Incident Investigations

Fact-Finding Techniques for Incident Investigations

If you've been a safety professional or an operational manager for any significant amount of time, you've probably had your share of safety-related incidents. The most significant incidents are usually measured by their consequences. These may result in death, serious injuries, lost or restricted workday cases, OSHA recordable cases, first aid treatment, and/or equipment or property damage. Other incidents are commonly referred to as near misses, where serious consequences like the ones previously listed could potentially have occurred, but, through luck or circumstance, did not. Regardless of the type of incident, there is always one question that is asked afterward: Why did this happen?

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Train the Trainer 101: Practical Elements for Developing a Safety Culture

If you have been a safety person for any time at all, you have heard someone say, “I can't believe they did that!” It is usually in the context of an incident investigation. As the interviews are completed and the evidence is analyzed, it comes to light that the crew did something completely out of character, or maybe even violated a well-known rule or procedure. Sometimes we find out that the crew involved had just completed training or attended a safety meeting regarding the very risk that caused the incident.

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Danny Raines, CUSP

Voice of Experience: Why Did I Do That?

I have often wondered why people – myself included – do the things they do. If you have ever investigated an accident or been the first one on the scene, you know it does not take much more than a quick glance to identify the most obvious contributing factors that led to the situation. The questions asked always lead to the causal factors, and you have to dig really deep to identify the root cause, but these things still don’t fully explain why the accident occurred.

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Kate Wade

2013 USOLN Safety Award Winners Announced

2013 USOLN Safety Award Winners Announced

During the iP Utility Safety Conference & Expo held earlier this year in Louisville, Ky., representatives from the Utility Safety & Ops Leadership Network presented the 2013 John McRae Safety Leadership Award to Jim Vaughn, CUSP, and the 2013 Carolyn Alkire Safety Advocate Award to Michael Getman, CUSP.

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Matt Edmonds, CUSP, CHST, CET

What OSHA’s Proposed Silica Rule Means to You

What OSHA’s Proposed Silica Rule Means to You

Airborne crystalline silica has long been discussed as a health hazard in the workplace. When inhaled, very small crystalline silica particles referred to as “respirable” particles are known to cause silicosis, a fatal lung disease, as well as other respiratory-related diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer.

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Lee Marchessault, CUSP

The Power of an Effective Field Observation Program

The Power of an Effective Field Observation Program

Electric utilities are among the most hazardous industries in which to work. This was recognized in the early days of electric power distribution when extremely high fatality rates occurred. Since those days, utilities have examined injuries and fatalities to learn how to prevent others. The examination process has included analyzing possible hazards, mitigating the identified hazards to a safe level of acceptable risk, creating policies and procedures, developing and providing protective equipment, and making the workplace as safe as it can be … or has it? Unless we make a conscious effort to verify that what has been developed and provided is used properly, safe work practices can only be assumed. By conducting field personnel work site observations on a consistent basis, we can substantiate and measure the effectiveness of organizational safety efforts, proving that the “safety first” culture is accurately represented.

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Danny Raines, CUSP

Voice of Experience: The Globally Harmonized System is Here

Creating one global standard to classify and label hazardous chemicals has been a topic of international negotiations since the process began in Brazil in 1992. Now, the long-awaited and much-discussed Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) is beginning to appear in the American workplace. December 1, 2013, was the deadline for the initial required employee training about the changes the GHS will bring to OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), which is used to ensure chemical safety in the workplace. The GHS will affect current HCS labeling requirements with the addition of new signal words, hazard and precautionary statements, and pictograms. One of the most noticeable changes is that material safety data sheets, or MSDS, will now be referred to as safety data sheets, or SDS.

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Claudia Hendricks

Safety Management During Change

Safety Management During Change

Safety champions Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities companies have created a culture of safety excellence with consistently low injury rates and hundreds of national and international awards to their employees’ credit. A key factor in LG&E and KU’s success has been a top-led, employee-driven approach to safety, which includes a concentrated effort to identify hazards and issues and proactively address them before they become injuries. Safety professionals know that even the most exemplary performance can turn upside down in a split second due to any number of factors. They may include the failure to follow procedures or recognize hazards, distractions, attitude, complacency and even a false security about past successes. LG&E and KU have been very effective in managing those situations as well as one that can easily be overlooked – change.

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Jim Boyd, CUSP

Transitioning to FR Clothing

Transitioning to FR Clothing

Since Tacoma Power’s creation in the 1890s, its employees have worked on or around energized conductors and have been exposed to the hazards of electrical arcs and flames. For most of that time, electrical workers wore natural fiber clothing to reduce the risk of injury if involved in a situation that could result in an arc flash. Injuries from burning clothing can lead to permanent disabilities and death.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Train the Trainer 101: Why You Need More than 1910 and 1926

OSHA, like MSHA, publishes regulations for the employer to follow to promote safety in the workplace. The methodology of the regulations is to establish performance goals. Regulations do not establish procedures according to OSHA, even though they may occasionally require certain actions. One example is requiring barricades and equipotential mats at grounded equipment to protect workers from voltage gradients.

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Steve Hedden, CUSP

Ergonomics for Lineworkers

Ergonomics for Lineworkers

I am not an ergonomics expert. I am, however, a former lineman now in my 50s, experiencing aches and pains from many years of working in the field. I became interested in how ergonomics – the field of study that fits the job to the worker rather than the worker to the job – could improve line work after reading an article that explained how We Energies, an electric service provider headquartered in Milwaukee, had conducted a study in conjunction with the Electric Power Research Institute and Marquette University to determine why their employees were suffering so many hand, shoulder, knee and back injuries. It was like a light bulb came on. I thought back to co-workers who struggled with chronic pain resulting from their work as lineworkers and realized it didn’t have to be that way. I started the trade knowing it was a hard job, but I was young and strong. I wanted to impress co-workers and gain their acceptance on the crew, so I worked hard and didn’t concern myself with what I was doing to my body. The veterans who started this same way, and were now suffering the consequences, respected others who were willing to put in the hard work and sacrifice themselves just like they did.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Train the Trainer 101: Live-Line Tool Maintenance Program

Around 2009, a hot-line crew working in the Southwest had a transmission phase suspended under a hot stick while replacing a suspension string. The observer on the ground was the first to spot it. The crew was warned and looked up to see their rated hot stick smoking, all the more urgent because at the time they had no safe place to land the phase. The day was freezing and windy, not uncommon for that part of the Southwest. The wind was picking up dust and then mixing with sleet. The sleet started to adhere to the stick, creating a path to the steel crane line. Thinking quickly, the crew knocked the ice off the stick, lowering the chance of flashover. They also took that stick out of service.

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Bart Castle

The Authority to Stop Work

The Authority to Stop Work

Since its founding in 1984 as an electric utility contractor company, co-founder Steve Standish has always considered Standard Utility Construction an organization concerned about safety. Specifically, Standard responded to a fatality in 2003 by developing formal safety processes and documents. These included assigning employees to full-time safety-related work; increased emphasis and time devoted to safety meetings and incident response; deepened training and even more extensive use of appropriate PPE, often before an item was formally required by regulation; working toward formal OSHA certifications for Standard’s safety efforts; and a review to make certain all company documents regarding safety contained language emphasizing that no employee had to complete work he or she believed was unsafe.

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Gary Coleman, CHST, CSP, CUSP, OHST, STSC

Foundation Drilling Safety: The Aldridge Electric Story of Success

Foundation Drilling Safety: The Aldridge Electric Story of Success

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 4,500 and 5,000 people are killed in the U.S. workforce each year. Approximately 20 percent of those workplace fatalities are in the construction industry. According to OSHA, the four leading hazards that contribute to fatal injuries in construction are falls, electrocution, struck by object and caught-in/between.

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Danny Raines, CUSP

Voice of Experience: Training for the Qualified Employee

Training is required by OSHA and all employees should follow proper training, but the unfortunate truth is that doesn’t always happen, resulting in accidents, contacts and fatalities. OSHA is very specific about defining what qualifies employees to work on and near energized conductors and equipment energized at greater than 50 volts. To be qualified to work on systems considered primary voltages greater than 600 volts, the mandated training is markedly more intense because of the requirements for such things as knowledge of component specialization, procedures such as insulate or isolate, and the personal protective measures and personal equipment used, among others. The ideal trainer is OSHA-authorized and intimately familiar with federal standards and expectations, and has industry experience as well as a broad knowledge of consensus standards and contemporary practices related to the topics being covered. Electric utility employees are a tough group, and they will be tough on an instructor who has no utility experience. Instructors should not deliver training material simply via PowerPoint presentations or similar delivery methods. Examples and accident histories should be incorporated into the training. Additionally, OSHA requires field observations in order for employees to prove their proficiency in the training subject. After training is complete and an employee has proven proficiency, the employer can state the employee is qualified for the task.

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