Local 1245 Safety Committee
The Local 1245 Safety and Health Committee met on August 27, 2009 in Vacaville at the Local 1245 Union Hall. Committee members present were: Michael Gomes, Darryl Rice, Sergio Munez, Dan Boschee and Ralph Armstrong. Committee member absent were Art Torres, Robert Burkle and Al White.
In addition to the August 27th 1245 Safety Committee meeting there was also a Joint IBEW / PGE Safety Committee meeting held September 4, 2009 that was attended by Ralph Armstrong and Joe Osterlund. The minutes from that meeting will be reported in this report either as an individual item or part of the 1245 Safety Committee item.
First order of business was to review minutes from the prior months meeting. No changes were noted.
Topics discussed and action items assigned:
Safety Vests and Attire
It was reported last month that the company was reviewing the safety attire requirements which would include requirements for safety vests. At the September 4, 2009 Joint meeting it was reported that the usual annual Safety Attire letter was due to go out however the company felt that more work in the overall letter on Safety Attire should be revisited.
The company is looking at a more common sense approach to PPE Items such as Safety vests which PGE is referring to as a smart and simple approach. I would not expect to see wide spread changes in the requirements but some subtle changes may be in order and at this point it is being reviewed. Although nothing is etched in stone on any changes to the requirement of when and what type of PPE is required, the fact that the company is reviewing this and looking at a common sense approach to some of these things is move in a positive direction.
If changes are made that allow some discretion on the use of these items it will be up to each and every employee to make sure it does not get abused. Any widespread abuse would undermine any common sense approach and you would expect to see more restrictions on their use.
More to come on this and will be reported as it becomes available.
PPE & Lineman’s Climbing Equipment
An official letter to CalOSHA requesting clarification on who was responsible for the purchase of climbing equipment (Lineman / Tree) was sent in early July. On September 4, 2009 CalOSHA issued a response with clarification on who is responsible for purchasing this equipment. The employer is responsible for the purchase of this equipment and all PPE that is required for personal protection. That letter has been circulated throughout the state and will be posted on our Safety Matters.
I am scheduled to meet with PGE to discuss implementation of this requirement in the near future. I will be willing to work with other groups to get this issue taken care of.
Fall Protection Inspection Requirements
With the recent discussion pertaining to climbing gear and replacement of old gear that has failed inspection the question was asked how often inspection of this gear is required. ANSI Z359 addresses the inspections, Maintenance and Storage of this equipment.
ANSI states that:
“Users of Personal Fall Arrest Systems shall, at a minimum, comply with all manufacture instructions regarding the inspection, maintenance and storage of the equipment.
Equipment shall be inspected by the user before each use and additionally, by a competent person other than the user at intervals of no more than one year.”
It is the companies’ responsibility to manage and document these annual inspections. With the pole top rescue training and annual refresher training it would seem manageable for most employers to use these training sessions to perform these inspections and documentation. The purpose of the two level inspection of this equipment is to provide two independent means of guarding against oversight in the detecting and controlling against the use of defective, damaged and improperly maintained equipment.
FR Clothing Telephone workers
There was a general question pertaining to the use of FR Clothing by telephone workers is or would be a requirement. Currently these workers are not covered under the same OSHA that is requiring the electrical workers. This said however if these employees are assigned to work within areas that are identified (such as PGE substation) then they would need the clothing.
This has been an issue we have been working on now for over 15 months. During the Joint Health and Safety Committee meeting the company and the union were still at odds over this issue. I presented an email at this meeting from CalOSHA which was in response to my question pertaining to this requirement where OSHA stated that painters were not considered qualified electrical workers (QEW’s) and that they should not be hanging grounds. The company at this meeting stated that they would challenge CalOSHA on this issue and did not believe that this was a safety issue. I informed the committee that CalOSHA would be sending me a formal response to this question which was received one hour after the meeting was over. This letter was forwarded to the company.
With the letter from OSHA this issue rest squarely on PGE and OSHA to resolve. I will continue to provide updates on this issue as they become available.
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. All accidents reported this month on the green form as well as accidents reported at the safety committee meeting is listed below:
· An employee was installing a ground rod in some very hard ground using a hand operated ground rod driver. While the employee was pounding the rod in the ground it appears that the driver came off of the ground rod and the employee’s right hand somehow got between the ground rod and driver on the downward motion impaling the employees hand and fracturing with the ground rod.
· The committee reviewed a fatality of a tree worker. The location of the accident was not available. The accident involved a tree trimmer was dragging a limb on the ground between the power pole and down guys. At some point the limb appeared to detach one of the down guys from the anchor which caused it to become slack. The employee grabbed a hold of the detached guy wire which became energized when it came into contact with 7,620 volts above on the pole.
· The committee reviewed a safety committee report from one of the units regarding the use of Hiring Hall personnel without training to perform gas service work, collector type work, electric shut off and turn on’s. The committee will follow-up on this report.
No Near Misses reported to the committee
One near miss was reported at this meeting. The Safety Committee is encouraging everyone to report all near misses to the committee through our IBEW1245 Safety Matters web page. Anyone with a near miss should sanitize the report to omit names and companies as the intent of reporting a near is to provide others with information about potential hazards that members find in the field in order to prevent awareness to others of those hazards.
This was discussed at the 1245 Safety Committee as well as the Joint IBEW /PGE Health and Safety Committee. It was reported at the H& S Committee that Procedure 232 involving air testing requirements and rescue procedures is moving forward with PG&E Academy proceeding to roll-out the training.
Gas crews concerns over up to date maps
This was discussed again at the Local Meeting and was mentioned that the company from the labor management side were working on ways to resolve this issue but nothing definitive. At the IBEW / PGE Health and Safety meeting this was brought up again there. During this meeting the company was reminded of this concern and wants to make sure that company would work to find a solution to this concern and again discussed the incident where a plastic insert was not identified within a steel pipe being welded on. From this committee this issue will be referred to Gas Engineering for a response and invitation to the 4th Quarter meeting.
PG&E Safety Glasses
The company reported at the Joint Health and Safety Committee that the Company has submitted a Letter of Agreement to the Union outlining a proposal to expand the prescription safety eyewear program. Communication on the policy will take place once the signed letter is received. There was an issue with the original LA that delayed the signing which has since been rectified.
This program however has a disclaimer attached it. The program has been approved by the company for implementation however it will be up to each department to roll out. There is no drop dead date that the departments would be required to comply with it. I am hopeful that all the departments comply soon but also realize that the funding may not be available immediately for the roll out. We will continue to monitor the status of this.
The committee discussed as part of the round table session a couple of items:
· There was a discussion regarding a supervisor who tried to pressure an employee to dig without calling USA first. The employee did not dig without the area first being cleared by USA. Digging without notifying USA puts the company and the employee at risk to legal ramifications by ignoring this requirement.
There was a discussion regarding the rest break requirements. Most of our contracts specify the 2-15 minute rest breaks and the State of California requires at least 2 – 10 minute rest breaks in the middle of each 4 hour period. It is recommended to check the requirement in each CBA and if there are any questions to the state requirement you can visit the DIR web site on this and the link is provided. Assistance for employees and employers: Answering your questions.
Local 1245 Safety Committee
Ralph Armstrong, Chair
Posted: Sept. 25, 2009