Lineman Peer to Peer
On April 19, 2010 the small work group that was put together to work on the elements of a Union sponsored lineman Peer to Peer Safety program. This was the second meeting in the last month and progress is being made how this group feels the program should be laid out and what information should be included in this program. More information to follow on this pilot program once the working group meets.
On May 17th 2 more of the Target Leadership presentations were given at NV Energy headquarters in Reno. The safety presentations are given by Jeff “Odie” Espenship and with the completion of these 2 presentations it will end a pretty remarkable couple of months were the local was able to get this safety message to a large portion of its applicable membership through 15 presentations at various entities.
We continue to ask for comments and feedback from those who attended those sessions.
PGE Climbing Gear
Effective May 1, 2010 PGE was supposed to implement their new policy on the purchase and replacement of Lineman climbing equipment. I am being told by some that as of the end of this month some areas have not been given any information on this.
This policy is a result of the change in the OSHA regulation which considered this stuff fall protection equipment rather than tools of the trade which make it Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). In the state of California all PPE is required to be provided by the employer.
These meetings were done jointly to discuss concerns from both the employer as well as the membership and 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.
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.
If an employee has equipment that is in need of replacement or repair this becomes the employers responsibility and if they should not use the equipment until the issue is corrected.
There will likely be several questions as with any new program so please contact me with those questions once this is rolled out and everyone has a chance to review it.
PGE FR Clothing Cycle and Allowances
The new FR Clothing allowances for the 2010-2011 clothing cycle has been approved and should be available in the employee’s accounts. There should also be at least 1 new shirt item available which was wear trialed by several employees with real positive feedback. This shirt is made from inherently FR fabrics and not the treated cotton. Allowances and a new roll-over provision are listed below;
- Allowance for 2010 – $450 for full-time users and $225 for part-time users.
- The maximum roll-over of unused dollars from year two to year three is limited to 150% of the current year; i.e., for the 2010 year, the most any part-time user would have is $337.50 and the most any full-time user would have is $675.
Right to Refuse Unsafe Work
This topic has been discussed quite extensively over the last several months and was also the focus of our group safety meetings which were held in Vacaville on April 1, 2010. The requirement to stop unsafe acts and/or your right to refuse unsafe work is not only your responsibility it is also the law.
Many company safety rule books don’t specifically address this subject verbatim and the feeling is that it is communicated to the workers by other means such as during safety meetings and other communications from the companies. Regardless o whether or not this is in the companies rule books you don’t have to go much further than to look at the required workplace postings in all work locations to find this requirement. Below is from the current DIR requirements for posting in the workplace:
WHAT AN EMPLOYER MUST NEVER DO:
- Never permit an employee to do work that violates Cal/OSHA law.
- Never permit an employee to be exposed to harmful substances without providing adequate protection.
- Never allow an untrained employee to perform hazardous work.
EMPLOYEES HAVE CERTAIN RIGHTS IN WORKPLACE SAFETY & HEALTH:
- As an employee, you (or someone acting for you) have the right to file a complaint and request an inspection of your workplace if conditions there are unsafe or unhealthful. This is done by contacting the local district office of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (see list of offices). Your name is not revealed by Cal/OSHA, unless you request otherwise.
- You also have the right to bring unsafe or unhealthful conditions to the attention of the Cal/OSHA investigator making an inspection of your workplace. Upon request, Cal/OSHA will withhold the names of employees who submit or make statements during an inspection or investigation.
- Any employee has the right to refuse to perform work that would violate a Cal/OSHA or any occupational safety or health standard or order where such violation would create a real and apparent hazard to the employee or other employees.
- You may not be fired or punished in any way for filing a complaint about unsafe or unhealthful working conditions, or using any other right given to you by Cal/OSHA law. If you feel that you have been fired or punished for exercising your rights, you may file a complaint about this type of discrimination by contacting the nearest office of the Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (State Labor Commissioner) or the San Francisco office of the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (Employees of state or local government agencies may only file these complaints with the State Labor Commissioner.) Consult your local telephone directory for the office nearest you.
EMPLOYEES ALSO HAVE RESPONSIBILITIES:
To keep the workplace and your coworkers safe, you should tell your employer about any hazard that could result in an injury or illness to people on the job.
While working, you must always obey state job safety and health laws.
The California Labor Code (Section 6311) allows you to refuse to perform unsafe work as long as it is hazardous enough that any reasonable person would think his/her health or safety would be in danger by doing the work.
Before you refuse to perform unsafe work, however, make sure you inform your supervisor about the unsafe condition, and give the company a chance to correct it. If the company does not correct the unsafe condition, and you decide to refuse the work, make sure that you inform your supervisor, preferably in writing or in front of others, exactly why you are refusing to do the work, and that you will return to work as soon as the condition is fixed.
“Employees shall have the right to…engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of…mutual aid or protection.”–from Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act”
Occasions might arise when an employee is confronted with a choice between not performing assigned tasks or subjecting himself to serious injury or death arising from a hazardous condition at the workplace.
If the employee, with no reasonable alternative, refuses in good faith to expose himself to the dangerous condition, he would be protected against subsequent discrimination. The condition causing the employee’s apprehension of death or injury must be of such a nature that a reasonable person, under the circumstances then confronting the employee, would conclude that there is a real danger of death or serious injury and that there is insufficient time, due to the urgency of the situation, to eliminate the danger through resort to regular statutory enforcement channels. In addition, in such circumstances, the employee, where possible, must also have sought from his employer, and been unable to obtain, a correction of the dangerous condition.”–Code of Federal Regulations, Title 29, Section 1977.12(b) (2).
Open Items to be discussed at the next Joint PGE/IBEW Safety Committee Meeting being scheduled for June :
Painters and grounding
Still waiting to hear what CalOSHA’s response to the current practice of allowing painters to install personal protective grounds under the supervision of a Qualified Electrical Worker is. This has been an open item for many months and PGE has stated that they would be filing a request for a variance to the regulation that would allow this practice.
PGE Safety Walk Arounds
Several issues from the latest round of inspections will need to be addressed during the upcoming meeting. Some committees were not given the proper time allowed to complete the inspections along with other problems.
Need an update from the company on this since it appears that this is still an issue in the field for some areas.
Local 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, Dan Boschee, Robert Burkle, Sergio Munez and Ralph Armstrong.
Art Torres and Al White and. Committee member were absent.
First order of business was to review minutes from the prior months meeting. No changes were noted.
Topics discussed and action items assigned:
During this meeting all the above items were discussed at length and should also be included as part of the committee meeting minutes.
Forms and guidelines are on the website. Units should use 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 are listed below. 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.
A three person tree crew was in the process of lowering a chunk of a tree limb using ropes. The crew did not take any wraps on the rope since they just lowered two limbs without incident. The weight of this limb was greater than the crew anticipated and the crew was unable to hold the weight. The limb came down and tore down a 21kv primary conductor. The scene was secured and one of the crew members began complaining about pain in his stomach. The employee suffered a hernia as a result of this incident.
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.
See the most recent Near-Misses at www.ibew1245.com/safety-near-miss.html
There were some general discussions during this meeting which topics included:
There are several situations troubleman are experiencing or finding in the field that are currently being addressed through engineering and management. There have been questions pertaining to fuse coordination, putting new regulators in service and new AMI Smart Meter network equipment that is being installed on poles that they were not made aware of. One of the big issues with the AMI equipment is that in some locations it is being installed along with a new transformer that does not have fused cut-outs. These topics will also be added to the agenda of the joint safety committee meeting for discussion
Discussed ideas on how to deal with finding cranes or other pieces of equipment that are operating to close to energized powerlines. One option is to create a post card sized document with the current regulations and minimum approach distance that that equipment is allowed to be to the energized conductors. I can be customized to allow for a wide rage of voltages. This would allow the employee who witnesses the equipment in the area to stop and talk to the operator of the equipment and give them a copy of the card with the information on the system they working near. It also allows some documentation as to who and when they were spoken to.
Ralph Armstrong, Chairman
IBEW Local 1245 Safety Committee