Tailgate Safety Topics

Tailgate Safety Topics

Tailgate meetings are a critical communication component of any strong utility safety program. Incident Prevention supplies the utility industry with topics for these important meetings. Each article can be printed out for use in the field or emailed to your crews.

Can't find the Tailgate Topic you're looking for? Just...

Tailgate Safety Topics

Tailgate meetings are a critical communication component of any strong utility safety program. Incident Prevention supplies the utility industry with topics for these important meetings. Each article can be printed out for use in the field or emailed to your crews.

Can't find the Tailgate Topic you're looking for? Just send us an email and we'll have our team of expert utility safety authors get to work on your particular subject!

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Steve Bryant, CUSP

PPE: Much More Than Basic or General Protection

A groundman was working his third day on the job for a utility construction crew that was building a new three-phase circuit. His task that day was pulling rope by hand between the poles in order to pull in the conductors. While walking between two poles, he realized that he’d forgotten to return a pair of pliers to the lineman who owned them. The groundman pulled the pliers out of his pocket, just to make sure he still had them, and proceeded to drop the pliers on the ground. Because he was standing in a field with hay that stood nearly waist high, the groundman didn’t see the green metal fence post as he quickly bent over to pick up the pliers. His safety glasses struck the hidden fence post directly over his left eye, with such force that the post cut a groove in the glasses as it slid up and hit the groundman’s forehead at his upper eyebrow. Fortunately, the safety glasses took the brunt of the impact, resulting in a minor injury that only required first aid, and the groundman’s tetanus shot was up-to-date.

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Phillip B. McGee, CUSP

Wood Pole Inspection and Testing

Even before OSHA created 29 CFR 1910.269 Appendix D, “Methods of Inspecting and Testing Wood Poles,” it seems likely that pole inspection was a rule of thumb for many field employees. After all, they set poles and repeatedly climbed them to handle upgrades, maintenance, wood rot and decay.

Today, given OSHA regulations and the fact that pole testing and inspections are not difficult to perform, it would also seem likely that workers would adhere to these practices. Unfortunately, some employees don’t inspect a pole at all before climbing. Others believe they can easily comply with regulations by merely rapping a pole several times with a hammer prior to ascending. They have been incorrectly taught by other climbers that it’s sufficient to rap a pole and listen for a hollow sound.

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Nick Davey

A Key to Safety Performance Improvement

I have been intimately involved with safety in one form or another for my entire career. I became an electrician when I was a young man, spent a few decades in power plants as an engineer, held various management positions in the electric transmission and distribution field, and now act as a safety consultant. Over the years I have learned a great deal, and I want to share with you one of the most important lessons I’ve picked up along the way.

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Steve Hedden, CUSP

Are You Your Brother’s Keeper?

“I’m a big boy and I can take care of myself.” How many times have you heard this comment when observing and attempting to challenge risky behavior? Why do we hesitate to question someone else’s actions? And why don’t we listen to co-workers’ concerns? First, I believe we don’t want to deal with the confrontation, and second, we either don’t consider the consequences or we don’t believe the consequences will occur. Why else would we allow a crew member’s unsafe actions to continue?

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Michael J. Getman, CUSP, MBA

Improving Safety Through Communication

Recently we have heard about serious accidents and fatalities in our industry that have had a significant impact on the injured employees, their fellow workers, their family and friends, and virtually everyone else who knows them. These accidents should not have happened, and when we look at the events leading up to some of them, they could be described by the famous quote from “Cool Hand Luke”: “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”

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John Morton, CUSP

Electrical Capacitors in AC Circuits

In this month’s Tailgate, we will discuss the functions of a capacitor in an alternating current (AC) circuit, including charge and discharge, applications and connections in power circuits, and capacitor safety.

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Tim D. Self, CUSP

Using Best Practices to Drive Safety Culture

Using Best Practices to Drive Safety Culture

During the years that I have worked with power companies as a safety and training consultant, I have seen a lot of missed opportunities to create a strong safety culture. Most of us have a keen eye for what the next best practices for compliance may be, and we are good at implementing them, but we don’t always utilize their true potential to drive change, drive culture and really make a difference.

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Mike Caro, CUSP

Traffic Safety for Lineworkers

Traffic Safety for Lineworkers

One of the most dangerous tasks lineworkers perform has nothing to do with heights or electricity. Thousands of people die in the United States each year due to traffic accidents that occur in street and highway work zones, and there are always some lineworkers numbered among those fatalities. These accidents are violent, tragic and almost always preventable. The following Tailgate will provide you with information you need to know to keep yourself and your crew safe in work zones.

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Charles R. Southerland, CSC, CUSP

Trenching and Excavations: Considerations for the Competent Person

There is no blanket requirement that a competent person must be present at a construction job site at all times. The competent person can periodically leave the site. It is the responsibility of the competent person to make inspections necessary to identify situations that could result in hazardous conditions (e.g., possible cave-ins, indications of failure of protective systems or hazardous atmospheres), and to then ensure that corrective measures are taken. The hazards and conditions at each work site determine whether or not a competent person is required to be present at the job site at all times. When trenching and excavation work takes place, the competent person has several important responsibilities. This Tailgate will guide you through some of the critical tasks and issues the competent person faces while striving to maintain a safe trenching environment for workers.

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

Emergency Action Plans for Remote Locations

According to OSHA 29 CFR 1926.35, employers are required to have an emergency action plan (EAP). For the transmission and distribution (T&D) industry, developing an EAP that enables emergency medical service personnel to quickly respond to an injured individual can pose quite a challenge because T&D work is often performed in remote locations. Therefore, depending on the location of the work, the employer will need to consider many action items when developing an effective EAP.

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

Multitasking vs. Switch-Tasking: What’s the Difference?

In computer terms, multitasking is the concurrent operation by one central processing unit of two or more processes. Interestingly enough, this is not accomplished because computers can perform multiple processes at once. They simply give the appearance of multitasking because they can switch between processes thousands of times a second.

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John Boyle

Understanding Step and Touch Potential

Summer storm season is upon us and with summer storms come downed wires, broken poles, and trees and branches that sometimes make contact with energized overhead conductors. This Tailgate covers some of the fundamental hazards of working on or around downed energized conductors, and the unseen hazard of step and touch potential.

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Will Schnyer, CUSP

OSHA Job Briefing Basics

A job briefing – sometimes referred to as a job hazard analysis or task hazard analysis – is a tool at our disposal to assist us with safely performing electric utility work. Before we begin, let’s review 29 CFR 1910.269(c) regarding job briefings so we can lay a foundation for using a job briefing effectively. The section states that the “employer shall ensure that the employee in charge conducts a job briefing with the employees involved before they start each job. The briefing shall cover at least the following subjects: hazards associated with the job, work procedures involved, special precautions, energy source controls, and personal protective equipment requirements.”

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Bighorn Sheep vs. Lineworkers: What’s the Difference?

Lineworkers and bighorn sheep share many similarities. Both spend lots of time at height, often in precarious positions. Both are particularly outfitted for their respective specialties – the sheep by nature, the lineworker by technology – to ascend to great height inaccessible to those lesser equipped. Both possess unique skills and emotional constitutions to function in an environment that would make most people dizzy.

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Charles R. Southerland, CSC, CUSP

The Globally Harmonized System for Classifying and Labeling Chemicals

The Globally Harmonized System (GHS) is a worldwide system for communicating chemical hazards. It is a common approach to defining and classifying hazards for chemicals, and communicating such information on labels and safety data sheets to employees and users of chemicals. The GHS itself is not a regulation or a standard; the system was founded based on an international recommendation from the United Nations and recently was adopted into OSHA regulations. Additions and changes were made in 29 CFR 1910.1200, commonly known as the Hazard Communication standard or the right-to-know law.

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John Boyle

Working Safely with Chain Saws

The chain saw has become an invaluable tool for lineworkers and arborists who maintain electrical systems, whether it is used for accessing areas for routine maintenance, for tree trimming to ensure circuit reliability or to clear problem areas during storm restoration efforts. The chain saw is also responsible for approximately 30,000 injuries a year. To help you avoid becoming a statistic, this Tailgate covers the basics of chain saw safety.

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Lester Apley, CHST, CUSP

Soil Classification and Excavation Safety

An excavation – the act of creating a man-made cut, cavity, trench or depression in the earth’s surface – is one of the most hazardous activities that we deal with in construction. This Tailgate will shed light on proper soil classification, slope angle calculations and a simple rule that will help your employees make safe excavation decisions.

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Will Schnyer, CUSP

Live-Line Work on the Jersey Shore

Early on October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the Eastern Seaboard. She spanned 1,100 miles and was the largest Atlantic hurricane on record. Sandy’s impact was devastating, taking the lives of at least 131 people, leaving 7.5 million customers without electricity and causing billions of dollars in damage.

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John Boyle

Managing Cold Stress

Cold weather has returned to most parts of the U.S. To help you make it through yet another winter, this Tailgate focuses on how to protect yourself from cold stress-related illnesses and injuries.

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John Boyle

Care and Maintenance of Climbers

Climbers are the most distinguishable tool of the line trade. They are offered in a variety of materials, including titanium, aluminum and steel. Styles include permanent and removable gaff, adjustable and nonadjustable climbers. This month’s Tailgate addresses the maintenance and care of climbers.

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