The safety presentation given by Jeff “Odie” Espenship that has been given to approximately 8,000 members since February will round out with a final stop in Reno on May 17 for two presentations for employees at NV Energy, Truckee Donner, Truckee Meadows and Sierra Plumas members. We continue to ask for comments and feedback from those who attended those sessions.
A meeting was held at Weakley Hall with PG&E on April 20 to discuss their new policy on issuance and replacement of lineman climbing equipment. This was the second meeting to go over the elements of a purchase and replacement policy of this equipment now that OSHA has deemed it to be Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). These meetings were done jointly to discuss concerns from both the employer as well as the membership. Although PPE is not a negotiable item it is mutually agreed upon that it is in the best interest of both parties to work through this in an attempt to get the best policy/program in place for all parties involved.
PG&E planned to roll this program out at the beginning of May. Contact me with any questions about the program once it is rolled out.
Some of the basic elements in this program are as follows:
Since a large portion of the membership would prefer to keep using the climbing equipment they currently have for numerous reasons and we would like to continue to let them use this equipment, the company has agreed to replace it when they are no longer in compliance during inspection. The company will, upon an amicable separation of employment, give the employee the tools to take with them.
PG&E FR Clothing Cycle and Allowances
The company is preparing a proposal for the 2010/2011 FR Clothing cycle. The company’s proposal addresses new clothing allowances and the possibility of a percentage an employee may be allowed to roll over from year to year. The current clothing cycle should end mid-May and you are encouraged to use your unused clothing allowance before the end of this cycle.
GC Apprentices and Commercial Vehicles
It appears that PG&E has put a temporary ban on apprentices in their General Construction Department from driving the companies’ commercial motor vehicles due to the number of vehicle incidents with this workforce.
In the last weeks there reportedly have been 5 MV incidents involving apprentices driving Class A vehicles. The temporary ban will supposedly allow the company to conduct a thorough investigation into the causes of this trend and develop a plan to try to reduce these occurrences.
Painters and grounding
It was reported during the March joint meeting with the IBEW and PG&E that PG&E has prepared a variance request to CalOSHA on this topic and should have had it submitted soon.
A brief overview: Is it acceptable under CalOSHA standards for painters to install grounds in substations as well as on towers with one qualified electrical worker present.
Our position on this is that the CalOSHA requirement states that there needs to be two qualified electrical workers or one qualified electrical worker and one qualified electrical worker in-training. Painters are neither. PG&E position is that it does meet the standard since the company has provided training to these employees.
It appears that this is getting close to some type of resolution.
1245 Safety & Health Committee
The Local 1245 Safety and Health Committee met on April 15, 2010 in Vacaville at the Local 1245 Union Hall. Committee members present were; Michael Gomes, Darryl Rice, Art Torres, Al White and Dan Boschee. Committee member absent were Robert Burkle Sergio Munez and Ralph Armstrong.
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. This is our best resource to share the information with the rest of the membership. We are continuing to see an increase in the number of these forms being turned in and want to thank everyone who is doing this.
All accidents reported this month on the green form as well as accidents reported at the safety committee meeting are listed below.
A hook attachment fell off of a forklift while loading a transformer and hit an employee on the head. The employee was not wearing his hard hat at the time and was taken for evaluation and given a cat scan which revealed that he had a dent on his skull where he was hit by the hook.
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 provide awareness to others of those hazards.
No Near Misses reported this month.
There were some general discussions during this meeting which topics included:
The committee discussed SMUD’s new Near Miss Policy which actually expands beyond a traditional Near Miss program. This new policy provides employees with immunity from discipline provided the incident is reported in a set timeframe. What makes this unique is that in a true near miss situation no event occurred and therefore no one is aware of the potential hazard or problem. The near miss program is designed to report the hazards in an effort to share one’s experience with others so they could learn from what someone else had found. SMUD has actually expanded the near miss program to all incidents that do not involve injury or property damage. Most safety programs require that employees report all accident or events such as circuit interruptions. The program is still being finalized and I have not seen the final product but this is encouraging given the strong stance some employers have taken on al events. This allows for open discussions and sharing of what took place that led to the event so others can learn from what happened and is also a huge step in trust between the employees and the company.
Discussed the mapping issues that continue to be a problem in some areas within the gas department. Follow-up with the company to see where they are with providing the training and access to these maps to follow.
Next meeting scheduled for May 20, 2010 in Vacaville.
Ralph Armstrong, Safety Committee Chair