Local 1245 Safety Committee
The Local 1245 Safety and Health Committee met on Nov. 20 and Dec. 18, 2008 in Vacaville at the union hall. Topics discussed and action items assigned:
Manhole Rescue Requirements
This long-standing agenda item was presented to the committee in early 2007 but has also been addressed with PG&E in past years. It was presented to PG&E again in 2008 with supporting documentation that this committee feels requires rescue training for personnel working in manholes. On Dec. 18 during the joint IBEW/PG&E meeting this topic was covered again with no immediate resolution. It was agreed upon by both parties to sit down with Cal-OSHA for an official ruling on this subject. A date will be scheduled in the near future.
During the November meeting the discussion regarding manhole rescue moved to rescue of employees working inside transformers. This issue surfaced when a municipality contracted out some transformer repair work to an out-of-country company, which did not provide tools for rescue of the employee working inside of the transformer. This criterion will also be discussed with Cal-OSHA.
This was another agenda item that was put on hold during our previous meeting awaiting a response from PG&E. The topic involves the use of painters to ground de-energized equipment under the direction of one qualified electrical worker. We contend that the standard is clear that the Cal-OSHA requirement states that there needs to be two qualified electrical workers or one qualified electrical worker and one qualified electrical worker in-training. No resolution to this was reached at the Dec. 18 meeting with PG&E; however after the first of the year I will sit down with PG&E OSHA attorney, John Volke, to try to resolve this before bringing the issue to Cal-OSHA for clarification.
Near Miss Program
Guidelines and a description of this program have been established and we are posted on the IBEW Local Union 1245 web site under the Near Miss tab in the Safety Matters section. 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.
We have been given the go ahead to implement the new accident reporting program that will require each unit to document any accidents, deaths and sicknesses on a separate form to the Safety Committee. Roll out to the units is tentatively scheduled for the February/March time frame.
FR Clothing fitting issues
There have been some fitting issues of the new FR Clothing that PG&E employees are receiving. These fitting problems were brought up for discussion during the IBEW/PG&E Health and Safety meeting at which time I was directed to forward those issues to Marsha Elben with PG&E.
Over The Glasses Safety Glasses (OTG)
The committee reviewed members concerns regarding the requirement to wear OTG safety glasses while working in substations. The OTG safety glasses are designed to fit over prescription glasses. Concerns raised deal with ghost images in the OTG glasses, which this member feels could cause him to accidentally put a lead on the wrong contact when he is working behind a switchboard. This concern was also brought up at the December meeting with PG&E and discussions regarding a pilot program PG&E does not feel that OTG safety glasses are a problem and stated the use of face shields is always an option. PG&E safety mentioned that they were really happy with the pilot program and will brief upper management in January on this.
Tree Trimmers OSHA Requirements
Several questions regarding which standards Line-Clearance Tree work falls under. These standards were reviewed by the committee and are provided below.
§ California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Section 2950. Application.
§ California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Section 2951. Line Clearance Operations.
§ General Industry Safety Orders, Article 12. Tree Work, Maintenance or Removal
Health Effects: Rotating Shifts
Ill health effects associated with rotating shifts has caused concerns with some of our members. These health effects are documented by Circadian Technologies, Inc. PG&E has had Circadian do a presentation before and are planning on having them come back out. We have asked that they put together a sub-committee to look into the possible health effects. PG&E was not opposed to this and has suggested getting three members to be part of this. PG&E has already planned on having Circadian come to their Blue Chip Safety meeting and recommended that this group attend.
Round Table Topics
There were several side topics discussed with no action required, including:
The Committee discussed recent accidents: 1) Lineman fell approximately 26 feet from a baker board while transferring from the pole to the board in a training exercise. 2) Lineman fell while descending a pole and fracturing his hip which required surgery. 3) Fatal vehicle accident as a result of poor visibility due to fog. 4) Electrical contact accident while crew was restoring power after a car vs. pole accident. 5) Gas Mechanic received burns to his hands, face, and forearm while tightening bolts on a large volume meter at rice dryer with a battery powered ratchet tool. The gas flashed over resulting in the burns to the employee. 6)A water system repairman sustained 5 broken ribs after he slipped and fell while descending a river bank. The employee was treated and released. Accident reports still pending an all of these accidents.
The Committee discussed and reviewed changes to the Safety Matters web page. A Safety articles section has been added to review safety articles that have been posted along with a Safety Articles Archive to view past articles .
Safety Committee meeting dates in 2009 are the 4th Thursday of each month with the exception of November and December meetings, which will take place on the 3rd Thursday.
Committee reviewed the information bulletin from the California Highway Patrol regarding the Hours of Service (HOS) Exemption for Utility Service Vehicle Drivers that went into effect on Sept. 12, 2008. The report can be viewed in the Safety Articles section of the Local 1245 website at www.ibew1245.com.
Next meeting will be on January 22, 2008 in Vacaville.
Local 1245 Safety Committee
Ralph Armstrong, Chair
Posted: January 16, 2009