Utility Worksite Safety Articles

Raffi Elchemmas, AEP, MBA

Making the Switch

Making the Switch

It is an undisputed and well-known fact that workers’ use of manual tools increases repetitive movement, introduces awkward working postures and elevates the risk of ergonomic injuries and illnesses. Throughout the past decade, the utility industry has done a great job of recognizing these ergonomic safety issues, and a number of utility tool manufacturers have responded by developing new battery-operated tools and tool features that address them. Slowly but surely, ergonomic safety is increasing in the workplace as investor-owned utilities, contractors, cooperatives and municipalities make the switch from manual to battery-operated tools.

However, even with the progress that’s been made, there are many workers who are still using manual cutting and crimping methods on job sites across the country, which means those individuals face a greater likelihood of carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, sciatica, sprains, strains, soft tissue damage and other injuries.

According to the most recent data available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, among upper body injuries involving the repetitive use of tools, approximately 61 percent involve injury to the hands and wrists, 20 percent involve injury to the shoulders, 10 percent involve injury to the arms and 9 percent involve injury to the trunk and back. Signs of these of musculoskeletal disorders include decreased range of motion, decreased grip strength, swelling, cramping and loss of function. Other symptoms of these injuries include numbness, pain, tingling and stiffness.

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Derek Sang, QSSP, IASHEP, NASP

How to Navigate the FR Clothing Marketplace

How to Navigate the FR Clothing Marketplace

When the original version of the OSHA 1910.269 standard was published, flame-resistant (FR) clothing wasn’t even mentioned. The dangers associated with electric arcs were known, but the standard only required that an employer not allow an employee to wear clothing that, when exposed to flames or electric arcs, could increase the extent of injury sustained by the employee. This was covered under 1910.269(l)(6)(iii). The rule eliminated the use of garments constructed with synthetics such as polyester, nylon, rayon and acetate, which could melt and drip, and led to the adoption of clothing made with 100 percent cotton. The problem was that non-FR cotton – once exposed to thermal energies beyond its ignition point – will ignite and continue to burn, thus adding to an injury.

Now that the much-anticipated revisions to the 1910.269 standard have been published, they have introduced a number of new challenges to the electric utility industry and those entrusted with their employees’ safety. Specifically, page 20317 of the final rule (see www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-04-11/pdf/2013-29579.pdf) states that the “new provisions for protection from electric arcs include new requirements for the employer to: Assess the workplace to identify employees exposed to hazards from flames or from electric arcs, make reasonable estimates of the incident heat energy to which the employee would be exposed, ensure that the outer layer of clothing worn by employees is flame resistant under certain conditions, and generally ensure that employees exposed to hazards from electric arcs wear protective clothing and other protective equipment with an arc rating greater than or equal to the estimated heat energy.”

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Laura McMillan

Arrive Alive

Arrive Alive

On a clear, sunny day following a fierce thunderstorm the night before, Mark drove off to work. The schedule for the day was busy with repairing downed lines in several heavily trafficked neighborhoods followed by some scheduled maintenance at a router station. Mark met up with his crew, reviewed the schedule and then the team headed out for what they expected to be a long day. The crew was experienced, though, so Mark felt confident they would be able to complete their list of tasks.

In the driver’s seat of the crew cab on the way to repairing the downed lines, Mark thought about the task ahead; it would pose a challenge, but he and his team knew the drill and felt comfortable navigating to the assigned areas. In fact, he had grown up in one of the neighborhoods on their route and knew a few shortcuts. They were somewhat off the mapped routes, but Mark and the rest of the crew felt they could save some time by following the shortcuts. Indeed, the crew did save some time and found themselves a bit ahead of schedule.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Train the Trainer 101: Back to Basics: ‘Gentlemen, This is a Football’

I recently spent several weeks studying an incident, trying to understand how it had happened and – more importantly – how it could have been prevented. Maybe the answer was associated with human performance, or maybe culture, or it could have been procedures, or ... well, maybe it could have been associated with any number of things. In other words, even with all of my experience and training, I had a hard time finding the singular root cause. This dilemma made me recall a question I missed on an engineer-in-training exam I took in the 1970s. The question had ladder diagrams and loop schematics and required me to determine why indicator light I-107 was off. After a long study of the supporting documents and employing all of my superior intellect, I proudly answered the question 100 miles off. Why? The correct answer was, “The lamp was burned out”; this is probably why I never became an engineer.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

June 2015 Q&A

Q: Are there any changes to steel-toe boot requirements for lineworkers in the recently revised OSHA 1910.269 standard?

A: OSHA still leaves it to employers to decide whether hard-toe or protective footwear is required. As with all other PPE, the decision should be made based on risks and history. Wearing safety footwear is not required by the PPE rule. However, what is required in OSHA 29 CFR 1910.136, “Foot protection,” is a mandatory assessment of the work environment. The rule states that the employer “shall ensure that each affected employee uses protective footwear when working in areas where there is a danger of foot injuries due to falling or rolling objects, or objects piercing the sole, or when the use of protective footwear will protect the affected employee from an electrical hazard, such as a static-discharge or electric-shock hazard, that remains after the employer takes other necessary protective measures.”

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Recent Comments
Guest — Eddie Taunton
I believe the question on grounding through a switch is derived from the note in 1910.269(n) which states: Note to paragraph (n)(4... Read More
Thursday, 09 July 2015 14:07
Guest — Jim Vaughn
Eddie, thanks for the suggestion and I apologize for not getting to this comment earlier. There is no issue with grounding throug... Read More
Wednesday, 09 September 2015 11:39
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Ted Granger, CSSBB, CUSP

OSHA and the Host-Contractor Relationship

OSHA and the Host-Contractor Relationship

The revisions to OSHA 29 CFR 1910.269(a)(3) and 1926.950(c) regarding information transfer have brought many changes to the relationship between host and contract employers in the utility industry. As OSHA noted in the preamble to the revised standard, the existing Multi-Employer Citation Policy is insufficient to ensure workplace safety, and hence the agency has implemented a host-contract employer information transfer standard. The following article will shine light on what information must be communicated by which employer as well as how it should be communicated.

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Guest — Joe Foster CSP, CUSP
informative article, thank you,
Wednesday, 11 March 2020 08:24
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Ed Hunt, CUSP

The Roller-Coaster Life Cycle of IEEE 1307

The Roller-Coaster Life Cycle of IEEE 1307

IEEE 1307 is a little-known work group that is part of a larger IEEE subcommittee known as ESMOL, which stands for Engineering in the Safety, Maintenance and Operation of Lines. Both IEEE 1307 and ESMOL fall under the umbrella of the IEEE Transmission and Distribution Committee. IEEE 1307 is also the title of a utility fall protection consensus standard that has existed since the early 1990s. In light of the recent OSHA changes to fall protection, it seems appropriate to spread the knowledge about this industry standard.

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Kekai Batungbacal, CUSP

Facing Unique Challenges

Facing Unique Challenges

Established in 1891 by a royal charter from King David Kalakaua, today Hawaiian Electric provides electric service to 95 percent of the state of Hawai‘i. The company has approximately 1.4 million customers on five islands, with Hawaiian Electric providing service to O‘ahu; subsidiary Maui Electric providing service to Maui, Moloka‘i and Lana‘i; and subsidiary Hawai‘i Electric Light providing service to Hawai‘i Island.

The state of Hawai‘i is located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, about 2,000 miles away from the coast of the continental United States. This isolated geographic location, combined with the state’s clean energy initiatives, continues to pose unique challenges to Hawaiian Electric as the company strives to meet the demands of customers and the state’s Public Utilities Commission for lower bills and increased levels of renewable energy.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Train the Trainer 101: The OSHA-EEI Subpart V Settlement

In February of this year, Edison Electric Institute (EEI) circulated an agreement with OSHA. This agreement – which can be viewed at www.osha.gov/dsg/power_generation/SubpartV-final-settlement.html – ended the petition for review filed over several new provisions of the April 11, 2014 final rule affecting the general and construction industry rules for transmission, distribution and line clearance work. The agreement as delivered consisted of the final agreement and four exhibits that specified the agreed-upon terms. Exhibit A is a series of 46 questions and answers reflecting more detailed terms of new enforcement dates and general terms of agreement found in exhibits B and C. Since the Q&A in Exhibit A and the scope clarification for line clearance tree trimming in Exhibit D are pretty straightforward, we won't treat them here, but we will attempt to simplify and illuminate as best we can the terms found in exhibits B and C. At the time of this writing, the agreements were not signed by all parties, but we hope and assume the agreement will go forward as written.

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Danny Raines, CUSP

Voice of Experience: OSHA Updates to Arc-Rated FR Clothing Requirements

Over the last few months I have delivered several presentations and webinars on the recent revisions to OSHA 29 CFR 1910.269. During these sessions, attendees asked for clarification on a variety of topics, particularly arc-rated flame-resistant (FR) clothing. This month’s “Voice of Experience” is devoted to helping readers understand more about the impact of OSHA’s changes on this subject.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

April 2015 Q&A

Q: We are a 100-year-old municipality and we have discovered some wood tools and a baker board in a long-overlooked storage area. The tools are rotted and termite-damaged, but the situation raised a question: Is it permitted to use wood hot sticks?

A: We did some checking with manufacturers and most agree that wood tools were first replaced by fiberglass-reinforced plastic (FRP) in the 1950s when utilities started transmission voltages over 240 kV. The first published FRP manufacturing standard was for fiberglass tools in the 1960s. We don't currently know of any consensus standards for wood tools, but the 2009 version of IEEE 516 states that some wood may still be in use. Additionally, OSHA still has a voltage withstand test for wood tools, so we assume that means that it is not prohibited to use wood tools that meet the standard for both electrical and physical integrity.

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Allen L. Clapp, P.E.

The Importance of Matching Evidence Marks in Accident Investigations

I have personally investigated more than 800 incidents involving serious permanent injury, death, equipment failure and structural failure. Time after time, we were pulled in late to assist with investigations in which early investigators had failed to properly investigate the incidents. They had jumped to erroneous conclusions, thus resulting in incorrect admissions, strategies or other actions in the related litigations. When properly analyzed, each incident was shown to have occurred differently than originally assumed, and often a different party or action was the precipitative cause. Finding this out late in the game really hampered effective defense or prosecution, resulting in higher litigation and settlement costs, and even in improper jury decisions because the jury believed the earlier, confusing conclusions.

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Ken Palmer

Measuring, Planning and Cutting Methods for Chainsaw Operators

Measuring, Planning and Cutting Methods for Chainsaw Operators

The first two articles in this series discussed the risks of chainsaw operation as well as chainsaw safety, planning and precision felling techniques. In this final article, I will discuss several other topics that chainsaw operators should be knowledgeable about, including how to estimate tree height, make an open face notch and use felling wedges.

Estimating Tree Height
An important part of felling trees is the ability to estimate a tree’s height in order to determine its position as it falls, hits the ground and comes to rest. Accurate height estimation allows the operator to determine if felling the whole tree is truly the best approach in a given situation and, if it is, helps the operator to avoid hitting or brushing against obstacles, hanging up trees and leaving behind dangerous branch hangers. Remember that the height of the felling cut will affect the felling path and the position of the tree when it reaches the ground.

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Hugh Hoagland and Stacy Klausing, M.S.

Recent PPE Changes and 2015 Trends

Recent PPE Changes and 2015 Trends

2014 was a year of changes in electrical safety. The new OSHA 29 CFR 1910.269 standard has moved arc-rated (AR) clothing and PPE to the forefront, unlike the 1994 changes. Additionally, for facilities covered by NFPA 70E, the new 70E standard has added a level of complexity to PPE. This article will review changes in PPE as well as trends to expect this year.

NFPA 70E Changes
In the 2015 edition of NFPA 70E, the term “Hazard Risk Category” (HRC) has been replaced by “PPE level” or “arc rated PPE category” (ARC). As a result, manufacturers may start using “ARC” instead of “HRC” on labels to indicate their level of performance in an arc. One PPE manufacturer is also considering using “CAT” (category) with a level. Expect to see more emphasis on the cal/cm² rating in 2015 and less on categories as NFPA, OSHA, NESC and IEEE move toward matching the protection to the hazard and move away from categories of protection. The incident energy that defines the ARC levels will remain the same, but HRC 0 – natural fiber clothing – was eliminated and now PPE is required to be AR.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Train the Trainer 101: Addressing Anchorages

With the new OSHA 29 CFR 1910.269 rules have come many questions, and one that Incident Prevention often receives is how to define an appropriate anchorage. There will be forthcoming interpretations as employers ask questions of OSHA, but the April 4, 2014 preamble, or “Summary and Explanation of the Final Rule,” does provide a good basis for interpreting the rules. You can read the preamble at www.osha.gov/dsg/power_generation/.

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Danny Raines, CUSP

Voice of Experience: The Importance of Job Briefings

As I write this article, I am reflecting on 2014 and thinking about how many contacts and fatalities the electric utility industry suffered last year. There were fewer than in 2013, but the improvement was only slight. At present, the most accurate count for 2014 is approximately 40 fatalities and 45-50 electrical contacts. One serious injury or fatality is too many, and all of them can be avoided by planning and the proper use of training, tools, time and teamwork.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

February 2015 Q&A

Q: The issue of multiple snaphooks in a single D-ring and Incident Prevention’s stance on it have received a lot of attention, and we are pleased to address this topic once more in the Q&A section.

A: iP received two notable responses to our guidance regarding manufacturer approvals and OSHA’s requirement that prohibits the use of two snaphooks in a single D-ring unless (1) the snaphook is a locking type and (2) the snaphook is specifically designed for certain connections.

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Michael J. Getman, CUSP, MBA

Arc Flash and the Benefits of Wearing PPE

Arc Flash and the Benefits of Wearing PPE

Part of the recent OSHA updates includes increasing protection for employees who may be exposed to arc hazards. I am aware that there are many utilities that have proactively completed an arc hazard analysis for their systems, and that their employees are already wearing arc-rated clothing. Some of these utilities provide a full wardrobe of arc-rated clothing, including shirts and pants. Some utilities currently only provide tops. Still others have not completed their arc hazard analyses and do not provide their employees with any arc-rated clothing.

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Thomas Arnold, CSP, CUSP, MBA

Closing the Safety Gap

Closing the Safety Gap

The safety gap is that dimly lit space between what is and what should be, between the expectations set forth by your safety program and the actual work practices that take place on your work sites. Within that gap lurks all that we hope to avoid. As safety managers, one of our primary objectives is to close the safety gap by identifying and eliminating risk in our work environments. To do so, however, requires clarity. Without a thorough understanding of our risks, both historical and present, we are left with a static, generalized program that is not responsive to the dynamics of our work.

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Ken Palmer

Chainsaw Safety, Planning and Precision Felling Techniques

Chainsaw Safety, Planning and Precision Felling Techniques

Chainsaw operators have to be able to think on their feet and adjust to their surroundings. Accidents and injuries can be dramatically reduced, and productivity increased, when workers have the knowledge, training and skills they need to properly operate a chainsaw. In the following article – the second part of a three-part series – I will discuss a variety of components related to safely operating a chainsaw, including what operators need to know about PPE, body positioning and reaction forces. I will also detail a five-step felling plan used by chainsaw operators around the world that you can adopt for your company’s use.

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Guest — le trong linh
To know about chainsaw and its all features including safety measurements, this article is mostly suitable.
Friday, 17 April 2015 12:51
Guest — Olin Robinson
What a very helpful post with many useful information! When considering the safety of the chainsaw, users usually just pay attenti... Read More
Sunday, 09 August 2015 05:43
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