Local 1245 Safety Committee
REPORT FROM MEETING OF OCTOBER 23, 2008
The Local 1245 Safety and Health Committee met on October 23, 2008 in Vacaville at the union hall. 1245 Safety Committee members in attendance were Michael Gomes, Robert Burkle, Sergio Munoz, Al White, Thomas Greer and Ralph Armstrong. Members absent were, Art Torres, Darryl Rice.
First order of business was to review minutes from last months meeting. No changes were noted.
Topics discussed and action items assigned:
There are still several open items from previous meetings that still need resolution however we don’t anticipate answers on most of these until the next joint IBEW/PGE Health and Safety Committee meeting. The meeting was scheduled for December 3rd but has to be rescheduled due to conflicts in several participants’ schedules. We are optimistic this meeting will still take place in December to close out these items and hopefully come to an agreement or decide which avenue to take from this point on.
There are a host of other entities such as Irrigation Districts, Municipalities and Utilities that we may also have issues with regards to these safety concerns. However it makes sense for the IBEW 1245 Safety Committee to resolve these concerns with PGE first for a couple of reasons. PGE is a large utility and many of the other entities look to them to see what they are doing as guidance. They are also a large company that employs many safety professionals to deal with all the safety laws and implementation of the required safety programs. Lastly we have direct IBEW Joint Quarterly Safety Committee meetings with PGE to discuss these issues as well, which we do not enjoy with a lot of the other groups. It is our opinion that if we can resolve these issues at the PGE level it allows us to push the other groups to follow as well.
There will be more to come on this when the Joint Safety Committee meets again.
NEAR MISS PROGRAM
No new near misses reported for the preceding month.
Guidelines and a description of this program have been established and we are posted on the IBEW Local Union 1245 web site under the Safety Matters tab. We will continue to monitor and post these as they become available in this section of our report. Please remember to sanitize these reports prior to submitting them so as to not provide names, companies and employers to the report. These reports are intended to share someone else’s experience with a potential hazard in the workplace in an effort to prevent accidents elsewhere.
Please submit your near miss to the 1245 Safety Committee. Go to the Near-Miss link on the Safety Matters page, which will guide you to a link for sending in your Near Miss.
Round Table Topics
There was several side topics discussed with no action required such as,
q There was a couple of FR clothing related topics discussed most of which were policy related and not safety related. There appears to be some issues with fitting of the clothing for shorter stockier employees. PGE has stated that Tyndale would perform alterations on the clothing to accommodate fitting issues for employees. There was a complaint from a member who needed alterations on his clothing Tyndale would only shorten the clothing 2” when he needed at least 6”. The 2” maximum that Tyndale said they would alter was due to the zipper on the leg. This employee also needed the sleeves shortened and that he was denied this also. Issues such as theses should be addressed with the FR Clothing working committee when they meet but will be brought up to PGE during the Joint Safety Committee Meeting as well.
q Discussed a complaint from an electric meter tech also that involved the limited clothing choices they get due to the fact they are classified under the same work group as the Gas Service Representatives. This is also an issue that needs to be addressed by the working committee when they meet.
q One of the Safety Committee members discussed a safety concern that involves a new company customer incentive program where the employees are issued visa gift cards to give to customers as an award. The company dictates the amounts and who receives them before they leave for the day. They are issued gift cards in $25 increments and a list of who receives them and how many each customer receives. There has been some advertising of this program and how they will receive their gift cards and this is what has the technicians concerned. Although as of the meeting there have not been any incidents that fact that the general public may know that these employees could be carrying these cards around could lead to robbery and employee safety issues. The concern was brought to the companies safety department, which said they would look into it. More to come on this at the November meeting.
q The committee discussed the new Fed OSHA crane rule. For those of us who work in California and 16 other states in the U.S., this requirement already exists in the state standards. This new proposed standard will require the remaining states that do not have a crane certification requirement to establish one and may also require some states to modify their existing standards if they are less stringent as the proposed Federal standard.
q On the heels of several recent high-profile fatal construction site incidents, OSHA announced the first major overhaul of its cranes and derricks standard since the rule’s inception more than 30 years ago. A 1,110-page draft (.pdf file) of the proposed rule was made available on the Department of Labor’s Website Sept. 18, and was expected to be published in the Oct. 3 Federal Register. The proposed rule addresses the erection, dismantling and operation of tower cranes, and sets the options for which crane operators can obtain required certification. If enacted, it would affect some 96,000 construction cranes, including 2,000 tower cranes, according to a DOL news release. Numerous recent deaths and incidents involving cranes have pushed the issue of crane and derrick safety to the forefront of construction safety and led to calls for OSHA to complete the update. The original rule was promulgated in 1971 and has since received only two slight updates, most recently in 1993. Work on a substantial revision of the rule was completed in 2004 by a special OSHA panel, but the rule’s publication was slowed by a series of required rulemaking steps.
q The committee also discussed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrations (FMCSA) efforts to improve driver fitness checks article. The agency published online medical examiners handbook intended to provide information and guidelines to better assess drivers’ fitness. FMCSA has said that they are working on a National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners and improvements to medical certification requirements for commercial driver licensing. This information is extremely important to those of us who are required to maintain a CDL as a condition of employment.
q Radio Frequency Radiation – Information obtained from the NSC and prepared by Michael Gomes, 1245 Safety Committee Member
Today American workers need to be made aware of a growing potential hazard called Radio frequency Radiation. RFR is the product of transmitting many things from T.V. signals, cell phone signals, Wi-Fi Internet all the way to Radar satellites. Because of our growing dependency on wireless devices this has created a demand for more and more transmitting antennas to be placed in our already crowded communities. (These transmitting Antennas are the root of this problem not your individual wireless devices.) Many communities and communication companies realize that these towers are an eyesore to the public and have made many attempts at hiding them. The problem is they are making it harder to identify these individual threats.
The initial threat of RFR is thermal heating of body tissue. Because RFR is an electromagnetic wave it penetrates the individuals skin and can do great damage to the individuals internal organs, most likely without the individual even knowing they have been exposed. Currently there is no effective P.P.E. that can be used to prevent exposure completely. Detection badges have be tried but deemed ineffective in alerting its wearers of dangerous environments because they don’t trigger unless you are standing in the direct path of the transmitting antenna. Individual RFR detectors do exist but unless you know the frequency that the site is transmitting at then the detector will not give the worker an accurate read.
If a worker has to work in proximity to a cellular antenna there are a couple things one should do to help protect themselves. At each site the F.C.C. mandates that contact information be posted so workers can make contact with the cell provider to see if they can power down the antenna to ensure your safety. The best possible solution to working around cell towers is to maintain distance from the front of the antennas where the exposure area to RFR is most condensed. Always maintaining a safe distance from it will insure yours and others safety. Distance is the best protection.
In the event a worker feels that he has been exposed to RFR he needs to contact the F.C.C. about the exposure and make sure they have some vital information to report to them to ensure proper documentation
1) DATE and TIME of the exposure
2) LOCATION of the exposure site
3) LICENSEE of the site (should be posted on or near the entrance)
Next Meeting will be on November 20, 2008 in Vacaville.
Local 1245 Safety Committee
Ralph Armstrong, Chair
Posted: December 4, 2008