Over the past 40 years, much attention has been given to the protection of underground facilities and utilities. This month’s Tailgate focuses on working on or in close proximity to those facilities and utilities.
This month’s Tailgate focuses on what we can do to combat overuse and overexertion injuries. As every utility employee knows, our work at times is hard, dirty and dangerous. The demands of our job require much physical work. Whether climbing poles or towers, hand-digging holes or moving material from street to rear property, the machines most used and abused are our bodies. All this wear and tear takes its toll, and eventually the body signals overuse through pain and swelling. The types of injuries that can be inflicted often include back pain and problems with joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and other soft tissue.
This month’s Tailgate is a review of some basic safety precautions to take when using portable electric tools and equipment. The focus is on prevention of electrical shock, specifically when using 120-volt AC portable electric tools, cords and generators.
You’re a crew leader or even a supervisor and you really know your stuff, yet your crews aren’t quite following your direction. Something is amiss, but you can’t figure it out. Or maybe you’re a journeyman lineman, but your apprentice continues to not follow your direction. It’s becoming a problem for both of you that you’re not sure how to fix. In both cases, maybe it’s due to poor communication. We all can speak a language – some of us can speak many languages – but are we really communicating? Are you being heard? Most importantly, are you being understood? Communication and safety go hand in hand and without good communication skills, you may actually find yourself talking “at” people, not really communicating. The following Tailgate covers tips and techniques that can be used by anyone who really wants to make a difference in how they interact with and influence their crew members.
OSHA 1910.269(c) states that an employer must ensure that a pre-job briefing is conducted and that it covers the following details of the job:
• Work procedures
• Special precautions
• Energy source controls
• Personal protective equipment requirements
The Tailgate for this month goes back to the very basics of electrical safety – what OSHA considers the four requirements to be considered a qualified employee. This article is based on my 18 years of experience developing and teaching OSHA 29 CFR 1910.269 classes.
Here at Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), our line crews are responsible for the operation and maintenance of approximately 17,000 miles of power lines within a 15-state region of the central and western U.S. Within that region are geographic areas where vegetation hazards can pose a threat to the reliability of some of our power lines. To identify these hazards, WAPA utilizes both routine aerial and ground patrols to collect and monitor vegetation data. The criteria we use to establish vegetation minimum clearance distances is based on the OSHA 29 CFR 1910.333 minimum approach distance for nonelectrical workers, rounded up to the nearest foot, plus 5 feet to account for conductor and tree movement due to wind and ice loading, or increased conductor sag as a result of thermal loading. In addition, another 5 feet is added to allow for an average tree growth of 12 inches per year and a retreatment interval of no fewer than five years.
This month’s Tailgate Topic covers the important task of no-voltage testing, sometimes referred to as absence of voltage testing or no-potential testing. No lineworker is ever excluded from the requirements of testing conductors to verify the absence of voltage when required, although methods and practices on how this is accomplished will vary among companies. The following is a basic overview of how to test both exposed conductors and cable. The steps provided here are demonstrative in nature and not intended to replace your local rules and procedures.
This month’s Tailgate covers substation safety. Substations have a set of unique rules that are strictly enforced by the governing utility or municipality, known as the designated authority. This article is only a guide that outlines the basic requirements for personnel entering and working in a substation.
Safety glasses weren’t always considered part of everyday utility construction equipment. It was during the mid-1980s when companies really started embracing the use of safety glasses as mandatory personal protective equipment (PPE). Today you cannot step foot on a utility construction site without proper PPE, including safety glasses. Much has been accomplished in eyewear design, fit and comfort over the past 25 years, and many eye injuries have been avoided as a result of these significant changes. The purpose of this Tailgate is to cover some of the basics of safety glasses, as well as address some of the concerns about wearing them.
In this month’s Tailgate we get back to basics and review some of the fundamental principles of crew safety when handling tools and equipment.
Principle 1: Prior to usage, inspect and test all tools and equipment in accordance with your company’s approved procedures.
Inspection and testing are cornerstones of worker safety. Inspect tools, equipment, ropes, knots and rigging as required by your company’s procedure or, if no such procedure exists, on a routine basis. Be sure to pay special attention to calibration dates, testing dates and manufacturer expiration dates.
After attending a Monday morning safety meeting, a lineman is assigned the task of driving to a remote county road to measure the conductor height of an energized 115-kV transmission line. A rural farmhouse in the vicinity is scheduled to be moved and subsequently would pass directly underneath the transmission conductors. The lineman’s foreman wants to know if the top of the house will encroach on the minimum approach distance to live parts as it passes underneath the conductors.
Resonating throughout the industry today is an increasing concern regarding fall protection compliance – a key component of any powerline safety compliance program. Fall protection compliance has four essential elements: training, proper use and maintenance, inspection and documentation. Drawing from manufacturers’ specifications and OSHA standards, this Tailgate is a comprehensive resource to assist your organization in building a fall protection program that meets required compliance safety standards.
This month’s Tailgate takes a closer look at a line-of-fire issue, specifically the drop hazard created when working aloft. Unfortunately, year after year utility workers are injured when objects are inadvertently dropped from heights, creating a significant threat for those on the ground. As we continue to refine the practices in our profession, the methods traditionally used for working aloft need to be examined and possibly modified. This will bring more control and safety to those on the ground who are near the overhead work being performed.
Hydraulic and diesel fuel systems operate at very high pressures, often 3,000 psi and above. If a loose connection or a defect in a hose should occur, a fine, high-velocity stream of fluid will result. Even for systems pressurized to as little as 100 psi, this fluid stream can penetrate human skin as if it were a hypodermic needle.
Much of the country is currently in the throes of winter, dealing with snowy and icy conditions. It can be a dangerous time to be on the road, but the following Tailgate provides information to help you safely combat the perils of winter vehicle operation.
Rubber insulating line hose (RILH) is a portable safety device designed to cover exposed energized power lines and protect workers from incidental contact. Insulating line hose comes in various configurations and shapes. Its purpose is to completely cover line or equipment to which it is applied.
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.
Compressed gas has become very commonplace in the utility industry. Flammable gases are used for cutting, burning and welding. Propane is used to heat mastic for piping or to melt lead for splices. Compressed gas fuels are used for fork trucks while refrigerant gases are used by fleet personnel. As a result, most utility workers are exposed to gas cylinders as part of their daily operations.
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