Local 1245 Safety Committee
The Local 1245 Safety and Health Committee met Jan. 22, 2009 at Weakley Hall in Vacaville. Committee members present were Art Torres, Al White, Robert Burkle, Michael Gomes, Sergio Munoz, Darryl Rice and Ralph Armstrong. Committee member Thomas Greer was absent.
No changes were noted to minutes of prior meeting.
Topics discussed and action items assigned:
Manhole Rescue Requirements
At the time of this Safety Committee meeting there was no new information on this but a meeting was scheduled for Feb. 3, 2009 that included a representative from PG&E Health and Safety, PG&E, OSHA Attorney and Ralph Armstrong, IBEW Safety Representative, to discuss this issue.
On Feb. 3 this meeting took place and both sides came to an agreement regarding confined space and rescue requirements that I think will suit both sides well. This agreement in work rules still has a lot of work to be done, but is moving in the right direction.
I will try to summarize where we are at and what still needs to be done.
In regards to the Cal-OSHA requirements for confined space, Standard 5158 regulates the utility industry. 5158e of the standard specifies that whenever an atmosphere free of air contamination, oxygen enrichment and/or oxygen deficiency cannot be ensured the rescue requirements would be required. PG&E contends that 95% of their spaces are free of or can be made free of ensuring good air quality therefore the rescue requirement in that portion of the standard does not comply, and they are correct. We would not want to force that requirement on them or any of our employers all the time either because it would require some extreme and unnecessary requirements on our members to comply. They have agreed to train on and provide the rescue equipment for the other 5% of locations that would require the additional measures.
The fact that they will train and provide the equipment is a start to addressing these concerns and getting it on the trucks.
The subject moved onto the availability to use this equipment for rescuing an employee that may have suffered an illness or injury not as a result of a hazardous atmosphere. If a member is working in one of the 95% spaces and goes down due to an illness, this equipment could be used to assist in the rescue. PG&E Health and Safety will work on language that will be added to CSP 232 regarding when to use this equipment and when not to. This is a very important part of the training and is what has most concerned. When a rescue in a confined space is due to a bad atmosphere there are added risks, and with that comes added requirements for this. Any language to allow for rescue in a good environment will require a positive verification of air quality for the rescuer.
Although there may not be a requirement for this all the time there is definitely a need, which we believe will be addressed with the pending document. There is more work to do on the document and this committee will continue to monitor the progress of it.
At the Feb. 3 meeting mentioned above the discussion moved to this issue. Our position on this is that the Cal-OSHA requirement states that there needs to be 2 qualified electrical workers or 1 qualified electrical worker and 1 qualified electrical worker in-training and painters are neither. PG&E’s OSHA attorney feels there may be some missing language in the Cal-OSHA standard. The way the standard is written, and he is in agreement, does not support what they are currently doing and supports our position. PG&E will petition Cal-OSHA on this for either a clarification or a change. This committee will continue to monitor the progress on this, too, and will report as needed.
Near Miss Program
No Near Misses were reported at this meeting.
Guidelines and a description of this program have been established and 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.
The new Safety Reporting requirements were introduced to the union Business Representatives during the Jan. 23 staff meeting. Beginning in February all unit meetings should start implementation of this requirement by filling out the green Safety Report form during the unit meeting and sending it into Vacaville with the other reports. This form will be given to the 1245 Safety Committee to review and take action on if needed. This committee feels this will help the effectiveness of this committee on all units Local 1245 represents.
FR Clothing Fitting Issues
Chairman reported on a meeting that took place on Jan. 9 with PG&E and Tyndale. Tyndale has been visiting several PG&E yards and trying to address some of the clothing concerns that they have been hearing from the end users. The complaints have ranged from durability, comfort, fitting issues, etc. Tyndale and PG&E are looking at a couple of options for the fitting issues some of our members may be experiencing, such as having the employee bring the clothing to a local tailor that has been supplied with FR thread to have the clothing fitted properly. The durability issue with some of the products is based on the article of clothing. Items of clothing that have a product ID number that starts with an (I) are good for approximately 52 washings. Items with a product ID that starts with a (U) are good for approximately 78 washings and items that have a product ID that starts with an (F) are the most durable and are good for approximately 90 washings.
Tyndale and PG&E are looking to offer 4 new shirt products that are supposed to be lighter and made of inherently flame retardant materials versus the treated cotton. Details on this item are still being worked out with possible field trials this spring.
There have been complaints regarding allergic reactions to the clothing. Some of our members have been tested for allergies to the fabric and or treatment by a dermatologist. To date out of 10,000 employees in FR clothing the company has received 18 complaints of rashes, which is higher than Tyndale has seen historically. The company is working with Tyndale to resolve some of these complaints and concerns.
December Electrical Contact Accident
The committee discussed the preliminary accident reports that took place in the Fresno area where a member had received an electrical contact while working on a car vs. pole interruption, which resulted in the loss of both hands to the member. The accident report was not available to fully review; however, new grounding and tailboard documents have been implemented with PG&E as a result of this accident. These new rule changes will require a “Grounding Tailboard Briefing” which will have to document on a “Grounding Tailboard Form”.
This Grounding Tailboard briefing must include:
1. The section of the circuit being grounded, as designated by switches and/or other clearance points.
2. The fault current of the circuit section being grounded.
3. The type and size of grounds being used.
4. The type of grounding procedure being utilized. Explain why either the equal potential zone (EPZ) or the bracket-grounding procedure is the best choice for the job.
5. The grounding source which will be utilized, i.e., station grounds, common neutral, permanently driven ground rods, anchor rods, temporarily driven ground rods
6. The specific locations where the grounds will be installed. Include both the physical location and the place in the circuit.
7. Discuss and ensure all other potential sources have been addressed, for example: lightning, back feed, induction, microwave, radio tower.
8. The method of testing for the presence of voltage that will be utilized.
9. The requirement to count all EPZ and bracket grounds during installation and removal. The PIC must record the number of devices being installed or removed, and report that information to the electric control center as described in Utility Standard S1403 “Clearance, Non Test, Switching Log, and Tagging Procedures (Attachment 1, Clearance and Application for Work)”. Specifically, the PIC must report on the following devices:
a. All phase-to-phase grounding devices (line jumpers).
b. All phase-to-ground grounding devices.
c. All phase-to-structure grounding devices.
d. All cluster grounds (shall be counted as three grounds).
10. Ensure each employee understands their role and follows applicable safety and health rules and grounding procedures.
In addition to the Grounding Tailboard briefing there are some additional Protective Grounding Requirements.
· Conductors and or equipment are considered energized until they have been tested and proven de-energized by the installation of approved grounding devices.
· Conductors/equipment shall be tested through the use of an approved voltage detector. The approved voltage detector shall be on all job sites where protective grounding will be utilized. The approved voltage detector shall be affixed to an approved live line (hot stick) tool and tested while maintaining the safe working distance. A buzz test shall not be utilized to detect the presence of voltage with the following exception:
a. In the event the approved voltage detector is inoperable, an approved buzz test may be utilized in accordance with requirements outlined below.
Note: An approved buzz test is defined as attaching a 12” crescent wrench or equivalent mass of metal to the end of an approved live line (hot stick) tool and testing the line de-energized while maintaining the Safe Working Distance.
Testing a line de-energized (testing for presence of voltage) with an approved voltage detector or a buzz test shall not be performed while utilizing Rubber Glove work methods.
Whenever a conductor in excess of 600 volts is down and requires repair, rubber glove work procedures shall not be utilized. The line shall be properly grounded. A wire down is defined as:
a. Broken and/or separated from the supporting structure and contacting a potential grounded source, examples include, but are not limited to the following: contacting the ground, trees, buildings, messenger, etc., whether a single conductor or all conductors of the circuit are making contact.
Note: This would not prevent the use of rubber glove work methods where the line is still energized and off the supporting structure, and not contacting a potential ground source, i.e., a floating conductor, broken jumper, etc.
b. At no time shall a “safety clearance” be established in lieu of applying protective grounding. Operations may not provide field personnel with a “safety clearance” when work is being performed on the line being cleared. If the line being worked on requires a clearance, Operations will require the requester to report on the line, reporting the number of grounds being utilized.
· The only grounding method approved for use during a broken and/or separated wire situation, as defined in a. above, is bracket grounding.
· These rules shall be adhered to at all times, including emergencies. Employees troubleshooting outages shall not expedite restoration by handling/cutting ungrounded primary voltage conductors utilizing class II rubber gloves.
Round Table Topics
There was several side topics discussed with no action required such as:
q The Committee discussed the purpose of “Hot-line Orders, Non Tests, One Shot, etc.” which basically is used to prevent a circuit or equipment from automatically reclosing in the event of a circuit interruption. It was discussed that although there may be situations where this function has unintentionally aided a worker who was electrocuted the primary purpose of disabling the auto-reclosing function is for protection of the equipment. There seems to be a notion that this is intended for employee protection when it is not.
q The Committee also discussed the term “Safety Clearance” as mentioned in the above procedures. A safety clearance is not a real clearance and should never be relied upon as for accidental contact. If an employee cannot maintain the safe minimum approach distance for the voltage they are working on, then a full clearance is required. The fact that the word “Clearance” is used in this action can lead to the assumption that they are protected just as if they had obtained a full clearance. All a Safety Clearance is is general switching. Opening breakers or switches at both ends of the line section or clearing a piece of equipment. There are no testing for voltage and locking out the equipment or hanging personal protective grounds. In these situations, everything should be considered energized and treated as such unless full clearance requirements are met.
Next Meeting will be on Feb. 26, 2009 in Vacaville.
Local 1245 Safety Committee
Ralph Armstrong, Chair
Posted: Feb, 24, 2009