Utility Worksite Safety Articles

George R. Popovici, CUSA, CUSP

Public Safety and Our First Responders

Public Safety and Our First Responders

The threat of high-voltage electrical contact is very real for emergency first responders who are called to the scenes of accidents and other unplanned events. The safety of the public and our emergency workers should be a top priority.

“You fight the fires, we deal with the wires” is a theme that is stressed in the comprehensive outreach program created by NSTAR, a Northeast Utilities company based in Boston. Contacting the utility company first, before any actions are taken by responders, is essential when dealing with an invisible force that travels at 186,000 miles per second. If you make a mistake at the office, you can use an eraser or the delete key to correct it. In the field, there is no forgiveness and a split-second error in judgment will likely lead to an irreversible result.

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Joseph Saccaro, CSP, CUSA, CUSP, OHST

Implementing a Zero Injury Program

Implementing a Zero Injury Program

You’ve said it and heard it many times before: “Accidents happen.” It’s a phrase that essentially allows us to admit that accidents can’t be prevented. In business, that attitude has the potential to breed complacency when it comes to worker safety. A zero injury philosophy, however, maintains that there always exists some combination of tools, work practices and personal protective equipment that enables workers to carry out their assignments without being injured. Consequently, striving for zero injuries makes sense; it is a practical, achievable goal.

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Gary Zevenbergen

Detecting Shock Hazards at Transmission Line Work Sites

The line crew’s job for the day is to replace a 115-kV wooden H-frame transmission structure. No problem – this crew has done this type of work a number of times in the last few years. Upon arrival at the job site, the bucket truck and crane are arranged according to the job plan. A tailgate safety meeting is conducted, during which the clearance is reviewed and the points of isolation are identified. The work procedure is analyzed, including a discussion of the possible hazards and grounding plan for this work site. It is noted that, although not visible from this work site, this transmission line does share a right-of-way with two other high-voltage transmission lines about 15 miles from the work site. Induction could be an issue on this job. Maintaining a proper equipotential zone is emphasized.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Train the Trainer 101: Enclosed Space Rescue

Following is a treatment of the complex subject of enclosed space rescue and it's a lot of information. I would like to just tell you what to do, but there is no single solution. Your background understanding of the relative standards, interpretations and directives is necessary for you as trainers and administrators to mount an effective enclosed space program.

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Train the Trainer 101: Ferroresonance Explained

Ferroresonance is a complicated issue. It is important to familiarize crews with ferroresonance because as the number of URD systems installed increases and as systems age, the incidence of ferroresonance increases and so does the threat to equipment, service reliability and, most importantly, the safety of workers and customers.

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Mike Woods, CUSP

Keys to Effective Fall Protection

Keys to Effective Fall Protection

The electric utility industry is loaded with potential hazards. Climbing at heights is one of those inherent safety risks that come with the job. At Louisville Gas and Electric (LG&E) and Kentucky Utilities (KU), we require 100 percent fall protection on poles and towers for our employees and business partners. This policy is part of our “no compromise” approach to safety and supports our belief that we can leave nothing to chance when it comes to the well-being of our workers.

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Jeremy Adcock and Pam Tompkins, CSP, CUSP

Safety Rules and Work Practices: Why Don’t They Match Up?

Safety Rules and Work Practices: Why Don’t They Match Up?

What do safety rules mean to the organization? To the worker? Does having a safety rule mean it has to be followed 100 percent of the time, part of the time or not at all? Most employers and employees would say 100 percent of the time. So why do safety rules and actual work practices not match up every single time? Is the rule not known or not understood, does it not fit the application or has it always been done that way?

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Amber Reed

Working in Winter

Working in Winter

No matter what time of year you are operating your utility truck, there are always best practices to follow for safe setup, operation and transportation. Particularly in colder weather when temperatures drop below freezing and stay there for an extended period of time, there are some specific things you need to keep in mind in order to keep your truck running and your crews productive.

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Kevin J. Severson, CUSA

100 Percent Fall Protection: A Joint Union-Management Effort

100 Percent Fall Protection: A Joint Union-Management Effort

Alliant Energy (AE) management and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) union personnel began looking at the 100 percent fall protection issue about four years ago. AE is comprised of two utilities: Wisconsin Power and Light (WPL) and Iowa Power and Light (IPL). Union workers are represented by five IBEW locals. Internal statistics regarding falls during climbs on wood poles showed numbers in the teens over the last few years and a trend of near misses and minor injuries.

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Todd Horning

ATV Safety Begins with Proper Training

ATV Safety Begins with Proper Training

All-terrain vehicles, also known as ATVs, have a long-standing reputation for being unsafe and dangerous for riders and passengers. Operational injury statistics are staggering, averaging well over a half-million injuries in the U.S. since 2004. Although many injuries are linked to recreational use, ATVs in the workplace are expanding in a variety of industries, thus increasing the risk of job-related injury.

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John Boyle

Rubber Insulating Line Hose

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.

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Kevin J. Severson, CUSA

Are You on Cruise Control?

Are You on Cruise Control?

Many utility companies are focusing on zero injuries and their efforts have been paying off, with fewer employees are getting hurt. This is attributed to an arsenal of things such as meaningful safety meetings, applying injury prevention theories, ergonomic tools, detailed job briefings and many other proactive safety actions. If you are lucky enough to work for such a company, you should be proud of yourself and your fellow employees and continue to strive for zero injuries.

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John Boyle

Compressed Gas Cylinder Safety

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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John Boyle

Preventing Employee Exposure to Pesticides

Employees may occasionally encounter crops and substations that have recently been sprayed with pesticides. This Tailgate describes what to look for and the safe work practices to use to minimize pesticide exposure.

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John Boyle

Line of Fire

“Line of fire” is a military term that describes the path of a discharged missile or firearm. It’s the path an object will travel. In utility work there are many objects that have potential to create line of fire exposure.

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Kate Wade

Partnering to Increase Work-Site Fire Safety

It’s a warm summer day in San Diego. The temperature is 85 degrees, the relative humidity is 30 percent, and winds are out of the west at 10 to 15 miles per hour. A utility crew from San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) is performing maintenance on a broken cross-arm on a wooden 69-kilovolt transmission pole. Suddenly, a phase-to-phase contact causes a shower of sparks, igniting the dry grass below. The fire grows quickly and blackens several square feet of grass around the pole. A crew from SDG&E’s wildfire contractor, Fire Stop, has been working next to the utility crew. As a precaution, the Fire Stop crew had already positioned a dry hose line within 25 feet of where the fire started and had placed firefighting hand tools and a dry chemical extinguisher nearby.

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Michael Stremel, CUSP

No Substitute

Hydraulic tools and equipment have come a long way over the past several decades and even over the last several years. Utilities and many other industries rely on hydraulic tools, equipment and systems to get the job done. Getting the job done is always a big concern, but the priority should always be on getting the job done safely.

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Lee Marchessault, CUSP

How Safe Are Your Ground Grids?

Ground grids provide a fundamental safety feature in substations and should be tested periodically. Unfortunately, some are approaching 100 years old and haven’t been tested in many years.

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Victor L. Petrovic, Ph.D.

Arc Suppression Blanket Installation

Use of arc suppression blankets can help reduce arc flash/blast injuries. When properly installed, arc suppression blankets absorb or deflect heat and blast energy emitted from an arc event, reducing the event's impact on workers.

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Patricia Seeley, CPE

A FULL Commitment

We all know the data. Typically, one third to one half of our field injuries are musculoskeletal disorders such as strains and sprains, rotator cuff syndrome, lower back disorders and tendonitis. Workers’ compensation costs for these injuries far exceed those for acute incidents such as burns, cuts and even fractures.

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