Near-Miss Reporting Works,
CDL and Blood Alcohol
By Ralph Armstrong
On November 30 and December 1, 2009 Business Manager Tom Dalzell pulled together a group of Lineman from different Utilities and Municipalities that Local 1245 represents with the focus on what, we as a union and we as Lineman can do ourselves to improve safety on the job. During the 2 day meeting we had 2 keynote speakers, Carl Potter and Jeff “Odie” Espenship who both focused on this topic. These speakers received excellent feedback from the members in attendance and recommended finding a way to get this message to the membership in the field.
The month of February included 9 separate presentations at 8 different locations using Jeff “Odie” Espenship a retired Air Force fighter pilot, delivering his “Target Leadership” message to approximately 4 thousand members at PGE and SMUD. The message here was that “Operational excellence, safety, and productivity will all come as a byproduct of individual responsibility and leadership”. Tom Dalzell and the IBEW partnered with both PGE and SMUD on this as a joint venture that focused on the common goal of both the IBEW and the employers that safety is the number one priority. It was stated over and over that although we may not agree on everything we do agree on the importance of having our members and their employees go home every night in the same condition or better than when they showed up that morning. Comments and feedback from those who attended those sessions are encouraged.
We are in the planning stages to reach the members working at some of our other properties during the month of March to do the same. We are currently looking at 4 more locations within our jurisdiction for this. I have spoken with several of those employers to work this out and every one of them is excited about this. I have had several lengthy discussions with these groups who want to work with us on this. Another recommendation from our committee was; “The union should work harder with the companies to build an atmosphere of trust on both sides without the fear of discipline. There is a real opportunity to learn from others near-misses and accidents however a lot of things maybe going unreported for fear of discipline. This fear is preventing the flow of information that could prevent other serious accidents. Near Miss programs are not being used within the company’s due to fear. Even when companies ensure they can be made anonymously this tool is not being used.” Since these meetings and discussions with the other employers this has really opened up some real dialog over safety at some work locations that will hopefully remove some barriers both sides face.
We are also in the planning stages of reconvening the same group from November / December on April 1, 2010 for a 1 day meeting to discuss a couple of ideas as well as where we are and where we are headed regarding safety. We are also looking at bringing in the employers at a later date to continue to build on this.
Commercial Drivers Information on Blood Alcohol Levels
I have been asked (and told) several times over the last month and a half that if a person who carries a Commercial Drivers License is subject to the same Blood Alcohol Limits(.04) while operating their personal Non Commercial Motor Vehicle. This questions was answered in the April 2008 Safety Committee Report and a call to CHP has confirmed that there is no change to this rule.
The (.04) and (.08) limits are based on the vehicle not the license as you can see in the bolded information below. CHP has encouraged no alcohol while behind the wheel but did state they will not arrest a driver operating a non CMV with a .04 for BAC for DUI. CDL licenses due have some draw backs as they pertain to the ability to go to traffic school which was also covered in the same Safety Committee report. If there are more questions pertaining to this I would be more than happy to discuss them or they can contact their local CHP office with the information I have provided here.
Below is the California law that pertains to this as well;
Driving Under Influence of Alcohol or Drugs
23152. (a) It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle.
(b) It is unlawful for any person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle.
For purposes of this article and Section 34501.16, percent, by weight, of alcohol in a person’s blood is based upon grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.
In any prosecution under this subdivision, it is a rebuttable presumption that the person had 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of driving the vehicle if the person had 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of the performance of a chemical test within three hours after the driving.
(c) It is unlawful for any person who is addicted to the use of any drug to drive a vehicle. This subdivision shall not apply to a person who is participating in a narcotic treatment program approved pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 11875) of Chapter 1 of Part 3 of Division 10.5 of the Health and Safety Code.
(d) It is unlawful for any person who has 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a commercial motor vehicle, as defined in Section 15210.
In any prosecution under this subdivision, it is a rebuttable presumption that the person had 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of driving the vehicle if the person had 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of the performance of a chemical test within three hours after the driving.
(e) This section shall become operative on January 1, 1992, and shall remain operative until the director determines that federal regulations adopted pursuant to the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 (49 U.S.C. Sec. 2701 et seq.) contained in Section 383.51 or 391.15 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations do not require the state to prohibit operation of commercial vehicles when the operator has a concentration of alcohol in his or her blood of 0.04 percent by weight or more.
(f) The director shall submit a notice of the determination under subdivision (e) to the Secretary of State, and this section shall be repealed upon the receipt of that notice by the Secretary of State.
New Hours of Service Requirements
In October of 2009 the Governor of California signed into law (California Senate Bill 734) which will no longer require Utility Service Vehicles to follow the Hours-Of-Service (HOS) regulations to become effective on January 1, 2010.
Existing law prior to the passing of this Bill exempts a driver employed by an electrical corporation, a gas corporation, a telephone corporation, a water corporation, or a public water district from hours-of-service regulations while operating a public utility or public water district vehicle during the emergency restoration of service.
This bill exempts those drivers from all hours-of-service regulations while operating a public utility or public water district vehicle.
CMV operators will still need to follow all the other requirements such as inspections ect…and it does not apply to commercial vehicles transporting hazardous substances
There are still requirements that a company must and drivers have to comply with such as the California Code of Regulations Title 13, Section 1214, which covers driver fatigue. The code states that “No driver shall operate a motor vehicle, and a motor carrier shall not require or permit a driver to operate a motor vehicle, while the driver’s ability or alertness is so impaired, or so likely to become impaired, through fatigue, illness, or any other cause, as to make it unsafe for him/her to begin or continue to operate
Some companies have taken this requirement differently as it pertains to the HOS requirement so it is pertinent to know what your company requires.
1245 Safety & Health Committee
The Local 1245 Safety and Health Committee met on January 28, 2009 in Vacaville at the Local 1245 Union Hall. Committee members present were; Robert Burkle, Michael Gomes, Darryl Rice, Art Torres, Al White, Dan Boschee and Ralph Armstrong. Committee member absent were Sergio Munez.
First order of business was to review minutes from the prior months meeting. No changes were noted.
Topics discussed and action items assigned:
PPE requirements in California
This issue continues to be a topic of discussion for many reasons mainly because either the requirements for employer purchase of all PPE had not been communicated before or it had but just never implemented. At the January meeting discussions in addition to the open items we have from this committee such as (Safety Attire, Climbing Gear) was focused on old agreements that were made pertaining to FR Clothing. At the time those agreements were made the clothing such as in this case (FR Jackets) the required use of FR Clothing may not have been mandatory due to the fact the companies had never identified the actual hazard by performing arc hazard assessments. Once a company performs these assessments and a hazard is identified that can’t be controlled through either engineering controls or administrative controls and the use of FR Clothing is required then it becomes the responsibility of the employer based on California law.
We will continue to see this topic on a regular basis arise and will continue to work through this with the employers. It is in everyone’s best interest to work through these issues especially on big ticket items with the goal that we can help the employer control these costs in exchange for the ability to have a selection of items to choose from.
This requirement to wear PPE may be employed a little differently from company to company but the level of protection must be equivalent to the hazard. This is the same for all contractors working around these hazards once the hazard has been identified. If the hazard has been identified by a utility, municipality or any contracting agency that hazard should be known by the contractor and the contractor is required to provide the appropriate protection for its employees.
Outstanding Open Items
There are several outstanding or open items that were discussed and addressed however no new information to report at the time of the meeting. The 2nd quarter Joint IBEW / PGE safety committee meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 3, 2010 at which time I hope to have an update on some of these items:
- Painters and grounding
- Climbing Gear and PPE:
We are working with individual employers to get this issue resolved as it comes up. Periodic inspection as well as daily inspections by the user of this equipment should be performed and if there are any deficiencies in the equipment it should be brought to your supervisor for repair or replacement until we get this issue resolved. Any issue that arises from this should be brought to my attention.
- Safety Attire and Vests
- Gas crew and mapping concerns
- New FR Clothing allotments:We expect to hear from PGE soon to discuss the 2010 allotment.
PGE walk around committee
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;
We are seeing more and more of these green forms coming in which is good news. This is our best resource to share the information with the rest of the membership.
A 5th step apprentice Lineman was working out of a bucket truck on a re-conductor job and was in the process of cutting a piece of 954 acsr wire when the tail of the wire sprung back and struck him in the face breaking a piece of his front tooth. The tooth piece was glued back on and there is more extensive permanent repairs needed.
The committee reviewed the below story of a fatality that took place in Colorado as a result of a bucket truck failure. Not enough information is provided to determine what caused the failure of the equipment.
Man killed in Broomfield accident
Utility worker thrown; another man injured
By Michael Davidson Camera Staff Writer
Posted: 01/16/2010 12:25:46 AM MST
A workplace accident Friday morning in Broomfield killed one man and severely injured another.
Two employees of Sturgeon Electric Co. were putting up an electrical line at the Broomfield Plaza shopping center at the northeast corner of 120th Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard when their bucket truck failed.
The accident happened at 10:19 a.m.
The man who died was thrown from the bucket and struck the truck, causing non-survivable injuries. He died at the scene, North Metro Fire Rescue District spokeswoman Wendy Forbes said.
“It was a very gruesome scene. It was evident as soon as the paramedics got on scene he wasn’t going to survive,” Forbes said.
The only details North Metro had about the man was that he was a Lakewood resident, Forbes said. The Adams County Coroner’s Office has yet to identify the victim.
The other man was rushed to St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver for treatment of traumatic injuries. He is expected to survive, Forbes said.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration arrived on the scene about 11 a.m. to investigate, Forbes said.
The men were putting up a line that was not live, and both were wearing safety tethers. It is not known if the accident was caused by mechanical failure or human error, Forbes said.
The victim is the second construction worker to fall to his death in Broomfield in the past month and the third worker killed since October.
On Dec. 28, a man working in the 13580 block of Via Varra Road was killed when he fell three stories and landed on concrete. He was dead before paramedics arrived.
Roderick Seymour, 50, of Fort Lupton was crushed to death Oct. 19 when a 32.5-ton earthmover rolled over him. He was working at the Anthem Ranch development in northern Broomfield.
Near-Miss Reporting Works!
We keep saying that reporting near-misses can help us avoid similar hazards in the future. And now we have some information showing that near-miss reporting works!
A four man line crew was removing jumpers on the upper circuit on a 3-wire double dead-end pole. The pole also had a buck line feeding one way to a set of cutouts which were closed. The downstream side of the feed had all transformer fuses open to remove any load potential. The upper circuit was #6 solid copper and the lower buck wire was # 4 ACSR. Two journeymen were in a double bucket using 8-foot shotguns to open and transfer the wire into “the clear.”
As the aluminum drop-on was being removed from the upper circuit the wire broke pulling the jumper wire into the lower circuit causing a ball of fire and blowing two upstream 80 amp fuses at the feed pole. Both linemen were uninjured and there was no other damage to company or customer property.
It was determined at a crew tailboard meeting shortly after the incident that there was one main cause for the accident. The drop-on clamp being removed was made of aluminum and although the #6 copper was line guarded a high resistance connection had developed causing the wire to degrade at the tap location. The lineman reported that the drop-on clamp was practically frozen onto the copper wire, but after some pressure it started to turn and then the wire broke. He also reported that there was no indication of any corrosion as the drop-on was covering the “bad spot.” Our company policy long ago has prohibited the use of copper/aluminum combination drop-on connections, but in this case the construction was about 50 years old.
Approximately two weeks after this incident was reported in a department-wide near-miss discussion, a crew working storm damage encountered a similar incident in which a “frozen” drop was caused by another corroded connection. In this case the crew cut out the tap with hot cutters and made repairs. The foreman of the crew said that he was glad the first near miss was reported. It increased awareness and helped avert another potential accident. Here it is: evidence that near-miss reports works!
The IBEW Local 1245 Safety Committee encourages 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-miss is to provide others with information that can help prevent a repetition of a hazardous situation.
There were some general discussions during this meeting which topics included:
Communication techs need to ground the overhead wire when performing fiber optic splicing.
The cancelling of labor management meetings at PGE and the concern over the inability of getting some of the concerns addressed during these meetings now that they are not being held.
Questions posed on how long FR Clothing’s FR properties last. There is not one answer for this question since the materials used and type of clothing all play into that equation. A check into the manufactures web site or contact with them directly would provide the best information on the particular clothing you are wearing.
Discussed the revamped IBEW website and like the changes
Discussed the use of pole trailers and Bear Claws. There was a general question as to if these trailers are still legal. No one has heard of anything that would indicate they were not and there are still groups using them. This subject came up after someone reported that they had a pole that was kept on the trailer all the time and used as a tongue broke.
Discussed the increase in number of police spotted on the roadways lately.
National Safety Council and IBEW Safety Caucus to be held from May 23 – 27th
Set new meeting dates for the 1245 Safety Committee for the remainder of 2010.
Next meeting scheduled for February 25, 2010 in Vacaville.