Utility Worksite Safety Articles

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.

Continue reading
  20446 Hits
  1 Comment
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.

Continue reading
  14996 Hits
  0 Comments
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.

Continue reading
  9965 Hits
  0 Comments
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.

Continue reading
  7040 Hits
  0 Comments
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.

Continue reading
  15374 Hits
  0 Comments
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).

Continue reading
  10062 Hits
  2 Comments
Jim Vaughn, CUSP

June 2014 Q&A

Q: Can you help us with regard to fall protection practices while working on top of a roof or in areas near substation transformers? We are aware of the exceptions for qualified climbers in OSHA 29 CFR 1910.269. How does that affect us?

A: Most utilities will tell you that they don't require fall protection to work a weatherhead on a roof. Many have no fall protection requirements or programs for working on top of transformers. I am aware that some utilities use the definition of a working surface issued by OSHA – at least once every two weeks or for a total of four man-hours or more during any sequential four-week period – as proof that a roof or transformer top is not a work surface and therefore an exception. (See December 18, 1997, OSHA interpretation letter to Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. at https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=INTERPRETATIONS&p_id=22508.)

Continue reading
  8793 Hits
  0 Comments
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.

Continue reading
  21447 Hits
  0 Comments
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.

Continue reading
  9469 Hits
  0 Comments
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.

Continue reading
  9752 Hits
  0 Comments
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.

Continue reading
  18717 Hits
  2 Comments
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?

Continue reading
  16738 Hits
  0 Comments
Matt Edmonds, CHST

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.

Continue reading
  10007 Hits
  0 Comments
Loralee Pearson

The Singing Lineman

The Singing Lineman

Brandon Wylie grew up with line work in his blood from his father and music in his soul from his grandfather, so it was just a matter of time before the two parts collided. And when you cross line work with a passion for music, you end up with a song that can light up a room and help bring recognition to an entire industry. Wylie wrote the song “Highline Cowboy” to express his love of the electric utility industry, and he can be found working on his music when he’s not teaching safety to lineworkers in his role as a certified safety and training specialist for Electric Cities of Georgia.

Continue reading
  10603 Hits
  0 Comments
Danny Raines, CUSP

Voice of Experience: Working On or Near Exposed Energized Parts

OSHA 29 CFR 1910.269(l), “Working on or near exposed energized parts,” requires employees to adhere to very specific rules concerning the exposure of unprotected body parts to energized conductors and equipment. I am amazed at the different interpretations of this one paragraph. I have thought about what work practices were being considered by the advisory panel that made the suggestions about how the standard should read when it was being written in the 1980s. The standard is very clear that two qualified employees are required to be on the job site when work is being performed that exposes an employee to minimum approach distances (MAD) on equipment or conductors with nominal system voltage of 600 volts or greater. Why? Is it due to the type of task being performed, or is the second person there for emergency rescue or fist aid? Depending on the task, there may be a legitimate safety reason to require the second employee. Does that second person need to be in the air in a two-person bucket or second bucket to assist, or should they be on the ground observing and available to assist in rescue? The answer depends on whom you ask. I sometimes wonder what the original committee intended.

Continue reading
  10408 Hits
  0 Comments
Marcia L. Eblen and Rick Kennerly

Are Your Temporary Protective Grounds Really Protecting You?

Are Your Temporary Protective Grounds Really Protecting You?

National equipment standards constantly evolve due to near misses and incidents that occur in the field. This evolution results in electric utilities adopting different work methods and procedures, equipment, education and training to keep utility workers and the public safe as every electric utility company builds and maintains the national electric grid.

Continue reading
  22504 Hits
  0 Comments
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.

Continue reading
  23133 Hits
  0 Comments
Danny Raines, CUSP

Voice of Experience: Incidents and the Failure to Control Work

Flashes and contacts continue to happen throughout the electric utility industry. All sectors, from the smallest contractor to the largest investor-owned utility, report incidents every day. I have seen reports that one contractor working a 23-kV circuit locked out the breaker twice in one day. Other reports now indicate that 2013 is trending even higher than last year for the first four months of the year. The industry is on course to meet the average of 24 to 28 fatalities documented in the utility and contractor North American Industry Classification System codes reported to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Continue reading
  8548 Hits
  0 Comments
John Morton, CUSP

Starting From the Ground Up

Starting From the Ground Up

Whenever we are fortunate enough to see a competent climber working off of a pole or tower, it can be favorably compared to watching a well-oiled machine at work. Each part of the body is coordinated and working together. A person with no understanding of the business might think climbing is something anyone can do. It is not. That climber has, more than likely, spent numerous hours learning his craft and practicing it day in and day out during the course of his duties. Even that climber who looks so graceful had to start somewhere, and that is what we are going to look at in this article – how learning to climb at the bottom of a pole or structure can make you a more competent climber at the top.

Continue reading
  8237 Hits
  0 Comments
R. Scott Young, CUSP

Safety Awareness for Substations

Safety Awareness for Substations

There are a number of hazards unique to substations. The substation safety information found in this article is drawn from 30 years of personal experience as well as industry best practices, regulations, codes and company policies. During my time working in substations, I have seen some horrible accidents and hope the following lessons I’ve learned will prevent other people from having to experience injury or death.

Continue reading
  52814 Hits
  0 Comments

KNOWLEDGE, INSIGHT & STRATEGY FOR UTILITY SAFETY & OPS PROFESSIONALS

Incident Prevention is produced by Utility Business Media, Inc.

360 Memorial Drive, Suite 10, Crystal Lake, IL 60014 | 815.459.1796 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
© 2004 - 2019 Incident Prevention. All Rights Reserved.