Utilities Safety & Health
Chairman Tom Nichols spoke of an incident in which four people were killed. The incident involved a three-man crew and a helicopter pilot, and all four were killed when a nosebag hanging on the outside of the helicopter got into the tail rotor and caused the crash. The pilot maneuvered away from a group of 11 linemen on the ground and the helicopter crashed and threw the three linemen out of the craft, all four were killed.
Nichols also commented on another severe injury in which a tird-year apprentice lost both arms due to an electrical contact. These two recent incidents are causing the utility and the union to look at training effectiveness.
Nichols shared information about ticks and PPE for the tick issues, which is very important. He presented leggings and lotion that keeps ticks away from the body.
Troubled Worker Safety & Health
Workplace suicide rates are on the rise. The committee was talking about getting someone to do a presentation about suicide, and reached out to Cal Bayer, the director of risk management in Washington, whom they hope to have do a presentation at the NSC in the Fall.
Wake Up! What are you doing to address fatigue at work?
I didn’t know much about fatigue, but we live in 24/7 society, yet our bodies are programmed to be tired at night. In the meeting, I learned that 43% of workers report being sleepy at work. I thought it was normal and caused by are getting older, but there are many physical problems that can arise such as lack of concentration, mental stress and increased chance of being injured.
I didn’t know that addiction to painkillers from a doctor was as big a problem in the states, but I learned that 40% of all US opioid deaths involve prescription opioids. After the third day of use, the chance of addiction begins and gets stronger over continued use of opioids. Right now, there are few provisions in place regarding treatment drugs for opioid addiction.
Utility and Outside Line Committee
There was a discussion on the use of drop zones that all the companies in Local 1245 jurisdiction are using when trimming trees around power lines. This subject is new for some tree trimmers outside of our area, so we need to explain the new steps to outside companies to prevent struck-by accidents, which is one of the leading causes of tree trimmer injury. I had a chance to talk about the steps that must be taken with a green hard hat or a new employee when working at the job site. There is an increasing number of tree trimmers attending the NSC safety conference, and so discussion of tree trimmer issues are on the increase.
–Carlos Rodriguez, IBEW 1245 Health and Safety Committee
When I attended the recent IBEW Safety Caucus, there was a topic that I think our members will hear more about in the future. That topic was “The Hazards of Radiofrequency (RF) and Microwave Radiation.”
Some of the biggest emitter of RF radiation are cell towers are base stations that control mobile phone communication. They may or may not be clearly visible in your neighborhood. Sometimes they are disguised as church steeples, trees or even flag poles. Because we can’t see, feel or smell the electromagnetic radiation coming from a cell tower (or cell site which includes towers, antenna masts and other base station forms), it’s hard to believe there is any potential for harm.
The FCC already agrees that cell tower workers or any worker near these RF fields may be injured because of the proximity. While the FCC position is solely based on thermal effects of non-ionizing radiation, it is clear the agency agrees that cell tower workers may be at risk of adverse health effects. Excessive exposure to RF radiation leads to well-documented potential harms, especially to workers who spend time near the antenna and in the line of the antenna’s beam. Some of the effects of exposure can include eye damage, sterility, frequent headaches, and fatigue. The World Health Organization officially classifies electromagnetic radiation a possible 2b carcinogen.
Some of the safety precautions that can be taken are
1. Wearing of a radiation monitor
2. Avoiding needless exposure to RF fields
3. Visiting www.AntennaSearch.com to locate sites in your area
With the increase of technology we need to be more aware of the hidden dangers of RF radiation.
–Dan Boschee, IBEW 1245 Health and Safety Committee