Local 1245 Safety Committee
The Local 1245 Safety and Health Committee met on April 23, 2009 in Vacaville at the union hall. Committee members present were Robert Burkle, Michael Gomes, Darryl Rice and Ralph Armstrong. Committee member Thomas Greer, Art Torres, Al White and Sergio Munoz were absent.
Topics discussed and action items assigned;
The April Safety Committee meeting was attended by a small minority of the committee due to schedule conflicts by several committee members. There will be change in committee representation beginning next month with Thomas Greer stepping down and Dan Boschee filling the spot that has been used to represent the telecommunication group.
PGE Gas Crews not provided access to up-to-date maps:
This subject was discussed again with not much more to be reported as far as a resolution to correct the availability of accurate as-built maps for the PGE gas crews. This topic was first brought up at the February committee meeting and a piece of plastic pipe that was damaged by a crew due to inaccurate mapping was brought to the March meeting. This issue has been brought to the company’s attention during the joint safety and health meetings as well as labor management with no clear resolution at the time on correcting the problem.
Crews are forced to go out and work on equipment that may have been updated to plastic pipe, without accurate knowledge of the current configuration of the system.
Crews have asked the company to either:
1) Provide an employee from the mapping department to provide current electronic maps for the personnel, or
2) Give the employees access to the electronic maps.
Currently the company has posted a notice on all of their outdated paper maps that says, “These maps are for reference only”.
Without this issue corrected the crews feel they are at risk of serious hazards and potentially responsibility for events that could occur.
A description of the incident that was brought to the Safety Committee is below:
A crew was assigned to install a new gas service. When the foreman checked the existing mapping for this job it indicated that the service would be attached to an existing 2” steel gas main. The existing main was exposed as indicated in the red area of the attached drawing. As the crew welded on the 2” gas main the foreman could smell gas, which caused him to stop welding on the pipe. Further investigation revealed that the 2” pipe had a plastic insert installed, which was not indicated on any drawings available to the crew.
Welding on the steel pipe caused the plastic inserted pipe to be compromised, which released gas into the steel pipe filling it and escaping through the open ends of the steel pipe. See Drawing below.
At the April Safety Committee meeting we had only 1 unit meeting report form submitted for review. This form did not contain any new accidents or safety concerns. There were 2 new accidents reported by committee members during the meeting.
New forms and guidelines are on the website. Units should start using them as part of their unit meeting and submit them to this committee whether or not there are accidents or concerns. This should be a standard reporting practice at every unit meeting every month.
- 12KV Contact While pulling wire. A line-crew lost the new conductor being pulled in while pulling it in with the old conductor (#6 copper). A bump sleeve pulled apart, allowing the new conductor to flip up into an energized crossing that was estimated at 8 feet above the pulling level. Employees contacting the new wire at the reel felt a strong shock. They were all taken to the hospital for observation, and released. A very fortunate outcome.
- An apprentice got his finger crushed under a stiff leg pad. While holding the pad, his finger was extended under the flat part of the pad. He did not realize the finger was in jeopardy until the leg came down. He lost the end of the finger. .
FR Clothing committee has been formed as part of the August Letter Agreement with PGE. The committee is in place to discuss FR Clothing issues and also to make recommendations for dollar allowances for the upcoming clothing cycles based on the first year’s needs. The committee has met with the company 3 times with the last meeting on April 22 spent on discussions regarding heat and what dollar figures would be needed in year 2 to aid in getting employees the cooler clothing as soon as possible. When discussions began the company had offered a 50% reduction from year 1 allowance of $750 (not including the coveralls) for both full-time and part-time users, which would have resulted in a 2009 allowance of $375 and $200. We left that meeting with the company coming up on that offer to $500 and $250 which was still a little off of our recommendation.
On May 12, 2009 the company and the IBEW have come to agreement on FR clothing allowances for the 2009/2010 cycle.
§ Full-time users $550.00. Part-time users $275.00. No allowance for infrequent users–although supervisors may authorize purchases for infrequent users as needed.
- New color and fabric selections have increased (more on this in ensuing communications).
- Employees may roll-over unused dollars from the 2008/2009 cycle to the 2009/2010 cycle–this is a one-time only event.
- Implementation date Monday May 18.
The annual clothing cycle will become May 1 every year after this and the negotiated allowances will be allocated then. For year May 1, 2010 all monies the employees have in their accounts will have to be spent or it will be lost when the new allowance is issued.
This represents a short clothing cycle from year 1 and will allow each employee the opportunity to purchase some clothing that should be a little cooler in the summer months.
§ The committee discussed employees who flagrantly break safety rules even after there has been a serious accident within a company or after they have been disciplined before for violating safety rules. We discussed an incident where an employer had recently had a fatality due to lack of shoring when a ditch collapsed. The company went through great lengths to properly train everyone again to avoid a similar incident. A couple of months after the fatality a superintend visiting a job site found a crew in a hole that required shoring; however, none was used. The foreman and crewmember were given time off for this and counseled on the zero tolerance on violations of the safety rules. A couple months after this incident the same crew was again in a ditch that required shoring and again not being used. This resulted in a termination. The employee felt he wrongly terminated. Safety is everyone’s responsibility and if you knowingly break the rules it will eventually catch up with you either by discipline of injury.
§ General discussions regarding grounding and the use Safety Clearances. These discussions started based on the recent grounding training that has been going.
v The use of the term Safety Clearance. This in no way considered a clearance and should not be called as such and could leads to its misuse.
v Buzz Testing. FedOSHA has a letter of interpretation on Buzz Testing which states; Question: Does “buzzing” the line constitute a sufficient test to determine the absence of “nominal Voltage” before grounds can be installed?
v Reply: The preferred method of testing line conductors to be sure they are deenergized (dead) before protective grounds are installed is using a high-voltage detector (voltmeter). However, paragraph 1910.269(n)(5) permits a circuit to be tested by “fuzzing (buzzing)” but that method should be used only when a high-voltage detector (voltmeter) is not available and when the presence of nominal voltage on the lines or equipment can be detected reliably in consideration of actual workplace conditions. Fuzzing procedures are considered unreliable in detecting voltages of less than 13.2 Y/ 7.62 kV.
v Reducing Hazards at the worksite for step and touch potential
v Vehicle Grounding
Next Meeting will be on May 28, 2009 in Vacaville.
Local 1245 Safety Committee
Ralph Armstrong, Chair
Posted: May 27, 2009