Rich Lane (IBEW 1245 Business Representative)
January: We discussed rules surrounding the addition of four synthetic opioids that became DOT-regulated on Jan. 1, 2018. PG&E has issued an advisory to its employees, and IBEW has placed information on the website concerning safety sensitive classifications affected by the change.
February: We handed out information to the committee from the International Office about cyanide release while pulling cable; EH boot use by companies; SEL fault indicators; Cal OHSA Reporter Crane operator certification delay; COR four employers cited for tree fatalities; report on PG&E Gas Ops response; initial communication regarding lineman struck by bucket; draft map of high fire threat district; report on battery degradation at Frontier Communications.
Attending National Safety Conference in Chicago May 19-25 will be Dan Boschee, Carlos Rodriguez, Mike Gomes and Rich Lane.
March: We reviewed the final incident report involving restoration troubleman that received first-degree burns when he was involved in an arc flash incident while changing out a meter. The committee determined it was not clear if load bypasses were opened before reinstalling the meter, as nothing was mentioned in the report. A contributing factor to injury was not all the required PPE was being worn at the time of the incident.
We passed out communications on Gas Ops incidents. The majority were non-injury vehicle incidents, PG&E storm incident reports involving MVIs, and one knee dislocation.
Dan Boschee (Frontier Communications)
January: Frontier has revamped some of their safety processes. Boschee has been put on a N. Cal. safety committee and they conference call. The company is reluctant to put fog lamps on trucks in the Ferndale area. Employees are asking for lamps to be fitted but are getting push back. Not sure if it is cost or retrofit issue from the company perspective. In the evening hours, employees are encountering severe fog.
We discussed the situation about bad batteries in remote sites and the committee wants to take action. Boschee will get back with his company committee to discuss a plan of action. Rich Lane will contact JV Macor and let him know what was reported.
February: There was a close call at a remote communication site when a tech pulled out battery drawers and the terminal contacted a rack and caused a spark and arc. Com site was abandoned from employee entry; voltage was 52 volts at 10amps. Business Rep. JV Macor met with management and was assured there would be an assessment of the hazard at reported areas and the problem will be corrected. The issue will pass onto Sheila Lawton, the new rep for that area, to monitor the situation.
March: On March 23, Frontier supervision announced that the company will be addressing battery issues at remote sites. A mitigation plan was announced, and following an assessment identifying greatest hazards, the company will begin changing out batteries.
In the Fresno area, there was a vehicle accident in which a woman ran a stop sign and struck a Frontier troubleshooter vehicle. The woman driving was killed and a boy in the car was injured but was expected to survive. The accident happened about 5pm in good weather. The troubleman was not injured; the accident still under investigation.
Sean Stevens (SMUD)
January: Stevens reported three soft tissue injuries, eight vehicle accidents with no injuries.
SMUD sent two crews to Puerto Rico to help with the hurricane devastation. SMUD crews reported no injuries or incidents among their own responders.
February: Stevens shared information on the handout regarding cyanide detected by fire services related to cable fault in vault. He said the monitor may not detect cyanide related to a fire but would detect IDLH due to oxygen deficiency anyway. He reached out to the person who was asking about the issue at the NSC conference and did not hear back.
An employee got an arm laceration working on a pole and was cut by other employee’s gaff. Employee smashed his arm while throwing arm into trailer. His sweater got caught on some material on trailer and crushed his arm. Employee sprained his ankle walking on uneven ground. There were three recorded low-speed vehicle accidents with no injuries.
March: A crew bringing in vacuum trailer noticed a 25 lb. cap missing. Cap was wedged into trailer body, fortunately it did not drop onto the highway. Fix will be to attach a tether to any possible loose fitting parts.
A crew replaced a transformer due to rust. While re-energizing with mains open, all was good until main was closed, and there was an explosion in the meter panel. Investigation by the crew revealed a bolt left in the panel went to ground or phase to phase. Crew thought possibly the customer’s employee may have left something in the unattended panel while the crew was working on the pole. No injuries reported.
Update on SMUD crews in Puerto Rico: much of the work was scheduled on 12-hour days. No incidents or injuries with SMUD crews. There was a near-miss from one of the crews in Puerto Rico when the local utility, PREPA, closed in a circuit without notifying the SMUD line foreman.
SMUD is bringing out a peer-to-peer program on driving. The suggestion is for supervisors to do ride-alongs with employees to assess employee driving.
SMUD is responding to new regulations to coming out in regard to High Voltage Electrical Safety Orders 2640 rules, keeping in compliance with Fed OSHA 1910.269 rules put in place two years ago. Cal OSHA Reporter noted that new rules will be instituted soon.
Mike Gomes (Modesto Irrigation District)
February: An employee was stung by an unknown insect and had an immediate reaction. He experienced severe swelling and had to take time off work. It is thought that he was stung while working in a ground level box.
Gomes asked about cameras in yards in relation to discipline, and if the union has the right to access the video. A member shared that videos are in use at his employer and a question came up regarding who was driving a vehicle when an incident happened. Video was used to look into who was driving, and no action was taken.
March: Had an incident involving a line crew working on a tower painting project. They had dropped a slack span on an intertie with Hetch Hetchy 115kV. On the go back, the crew had to check phasing at a transmission switch before paralleling line with the MID substation. The crew mistakenly used a distribution phasing set, which caused an explosion, destroying the phase set, but no injury to the crew. When the crew phased in parallel, there was no explosion, and when it went across phases, there was an explosion. Phasing set was the type that had cord between each end with eight-foot sticks and maximum voltage was 25kV. Transmission set uses 12-foot sticks. Hetch Hetchy did not place a non-test on transmission line as requested by MID so it went back with circuit after cross phase. The incident is still under investigation. Contributing factors include a foreman had no experience with transmission phasing set. All were wearing proper PPE, no burns but they did report ringing in the ears and reaction to explosion shock wave.
Joe Joaquim (PG&E Gas Ops)
January: First responder training from PG&E. Gas Emergency Response Plan (GERP) training was conducted involving on-scene response and hazard level recognition from Level 1-5. There was no communication training related to radios, which was identified as a serious communication gap during the response, and the instructor recognized gaps in the training related to the fires. The company will produce plastic instruction guide sheets to assign hazard levels but they have not been created yet. Also Joaquim reported there are probably 4-6 facility dig-ins per week by contractors doing clean-up in the fire area.
No word from the company about the electric/gas consolidation of safety programs that was said to be announced the first of the year.
March: A GSR fell off a telescoping ladder when he thought all the rungs were locked in place. The ladder in use was a Telesteps 1600ET telescoping ladder. According to the PG&E report, the GSR did not extend the ladder from the bottom up, locking all rungs in place. When he ascended the ladder the top rung collapsed and he fell backward to the ground injuring his head. According to the manufacturer’s instructions, the ladder is extended from the bottom up and when securely locked in place displays a green color indicator.
Dane Moore (PG&E Electric Ops)
January: One employee stepping out of his truck twisted his knee and an employee tried to drive between a building and bucket truck with the door open, and tore the door off the vehicle. New vehicle training; requested training on new buckets being issued. A field representative from the company providing the vehicle is doing in-service training.
A crew was working to change out a new J box. A contractor had shored, but shoring failed when the rail between shoring walls collapsed while EE was in hole. No injury, but the employee was up to his waist in mud.
February: A SIF investigation is being done related to a lineman who was struck by a bucket when another lineman had dropped down to pick up material. The lineman operating the bucket at the lower level experienced a neck injury. Committee had the initial report issued by PG&E.
March: It has been announced that load break elbows are going to be installed in areas where they would not be operationally difficult or ergonomically harmful to use. The concern is that in subsurface applications, the company does not want employees working directly over the elbows creating switching risk if something goes wrong.
Dane saw a crane working on the street across from the pole line and the crane was boomed over the 12kV doing a lift. PG&E was called, and a supervisor called Cal OSHA and conferred with the operator on rules.
PG&E members of the committee reported they received active shooter texts from the company related to the active shooter incident at the VA hospital in Yountville. It has also been reported that the company had also sent out text messages during the YouTube active shooter event. Many employees were grateful to receive them.
Carlos Rodriguez (Tree Trimmers)
January: During the holiday there was a knee twist, it is not known if it was reported to the company. A supervisor found three men climbing a tree without a second set of fall protection. Not sure what kind of discipline, if any, was taken.
During the holiday, tree crews reported that a supervisor received a report from workers that clean drinking water was not being issued by the company. The person who complained received retaliation from the general foreman. This was reported to the IBEW rep who reported to the company supervisor over the GF. Employees started to compile a variety of safety violations by GF. After the report, GF and PI was relocated because of his actions at two yards he supervised. GF took away bucket truck from employee who complained and gave him a truck that was not safe to operate. The employee did a safety inspection and refused to use the vehicle; he was told that he would have to climb to trim trees because he refused to use the truck. Business Representative Ray Banfill handled the issue.
Committee discussed regulations related to drinking water. Committee requested copy of regulations pertaining to drinking water provisions.
March: On SMUD property, a climber got shocked on a guy wire when he contacted it from the tree. The committee discussed some ways a person can be shocked on a guy wire, such as when a pole insulator is broken and tracking current from the pole top onto the guy wire above the guy insulator and someone makes contact. In this case, the tree trimmer was probably grounded working in the tree and the guy wire was energized. SMUD was contacted to look into what caused the shock.
A climber slipped on a pole and tore his rotator cuff. He cannot lift his arm and will have to have surgery.
Al White (PG&E Restoration)
February: Having issues with PMH operating tool for single phase switches that uses a pulley system to operate the cut-out door. In single phase operation, the employee has to use a tool to pull the door out, but the door does not open and then flies out of the cabinet risking phase to ground contact. Company is working with S&C to address problem.
Coming out soon, the Kuhlman single phase residential transformers that do not have a reset, risking to close into a fault condition. Three years ago, a troubleman in SF was burned when he attempted to reset the same type of transformer and it exploded.
A sub-foreman complained of serious coughing related to the fires. An SEM report was filed.
March: An electrician and his partner were backing out of parking lot; the passenger spotted for the driver and then got into vehicle. The driver went to drive forward and had to negotiate a Y turn and drove into an object, tearing off a mirror and damaging the side of the vehicle. The vehicle was fitted with a back-up camera. There was a discussion about how driver safety training does not always address risk in parking lots.
–Rich Lane, IBEW 1245 Business Representative