By Ralph Armstrong
Outside Line Construction Helicopter program
Outside construction contractors have always been able to perform skid transfers during the course of power line construction operations; however, the use of long-line to access these same structures has been prohibited due mainly to the lack of specific safety guidelines in the Outside Line Construction IBEW/NECA Safety Manual. Contractors have wanted to use this method for several years now; however, the union has resisted until both sides could sit down jointly and put in place established safety rules, guidelines and training requirements that would be available to anyone on the outside that wanted to perform this work.
On June 9, 2010, as part of a labor management grievance resolution, a meeting was held in Riverside, CA. that included representatives from Local 1245, Local Union 47, and NECA that brought a couple of representatives from the helicopter industry to put in place the rules and guidelines that would allow this method of work to proceed in the construction group in these jurisdictions. The result of this was to have the OSL safety book committee along with other safety individuals lay out these guidelines, which was done on June 15. These guidelines are almost complete.
First Aid and CPR requirements and issues
There have been questions and concerns surrounding the requirements to have a current first-aid and cpr card in the electric industry. The federal OSHA standard cfr1910.269 is specific in requiring that individuals in our electric power and generation industry as stated below:
“Cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid training.” When employees are performing work on or associated with exposed lines or equipment energized at 50 volts or more, persons trained in first aid including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) shall be available as follows:
For field work involving two or more employees at a work location, at least two trained persons shall be available. However, only one trained person need be available if all new employees are trained in first aid, including CPR, within 3 months of their hiring dates.
For fixed work locations such as generating stations, the number of trained persons available shall be sufficient to ensure that each employee exposed to electric shock can be reached within 4 minutes by a trained person. However, where the existing number of employees is insufficient to meet this requirement (at a remote substation, for example), all employees at the work location shall be trained.
Currently the only requirements in the CalOSHA aren’t as specific as this to address work around energized equipment in this industry. This was recently brought to their attention and CalOSHA has identified the need to be consistent with the Federal Standard and are in the process of adding these requirements as listed above the both the High Voltage Safety Orders (HVSO) and Low Voltage Safety Orders (LVSO).
Another issue involving CPR and First Aid is the new fad of taking these courses on-line. When I recently asked CalOSHA about the on-line course validity they stated;
“Section 3400(a) of Title 8 requires that 1st Aid and CPR training must be equal to that provided by ARC or MSHA. It is my understanding that the Division has adopted the position that the available On-line 1st Aid and CPR training that we are aware of is not equivalent to the hands-on instruction offered by ARC and MSHA.”
For an individual to get credit for taking these courses they must be hands on courses.
PGE Quarterly Meeting
The second quarter joint IBEW / PGE Joint Quarterly Health and Safety Committee meeting was held in Vacaville on July 26th a couple of months behind the regularly scheduled meeting due to schedule conflicts. Items discussed were;
Confined Space issues
This was a request for an update pertaining to some compliance issues at one of their facilities involving sampling equipment /detectors, test gas and calibration of equipment that temporarily suspended the confined space program. The company had reported that all issues had been corrected.
The use of Man on Line Tags for temporary Shoe fly’s
The company has implemented a new procedure which utilizes the use of a “Man on Line (MOL)” Tag when temporary shoe fly is used. The temporary shoe fly is utilized when an underground primary cable is bad and a temporary cable is installed above ground to restore service while the repairs are made to the faulted cable. This new procedure requires that a MOL to be placed on the temporary shoe fly when it is energized. A concern was raised on what the MOL tag is designed for which is to put on notice that there are people working on that section of line and do not energize. The feeling is by placing this tag versus a caution tag would not only pollute the meaning of this tag to the workers who rely on but compromise its true meaning.
The company is looking into this new procedure and the use of the tag with hopefully a change in store. This remains an open item.
Switching Metal Clad Switchgear as a single unit
When switching metal clad switchgear such as in a substation on station service that requires the use of a full blast suit for protection against arc flash / blast there are several other things to be concerned about other than the burn aspect that could occur in the event of a fault. The suit alone could protect an employee from the burns provided it is rated accordingly but the potential for severe injuries due to a blast are still there. There is also the limited visibility one has when wearing these suits as well as heat issues in the summer time. It is our position that anytime an individual’s required to wear one of these suits that there is a second person on site to render assistance if warranted with visibility and heat issues as well as immediate care in the event of an accident. This position seems to be supported in some areas but not in others. The company will look into the differences in procedures and policies to correct this. This remains an Open item.
Sensitive Ground Settings
In 1991 a Joint Committee formed to address the unions concerns over the practice of using high ground fault settings that the union felt could have contributed to a fatality and a couple of incidents that could have resulted in injury. Through this committee the issue was partially addressed by installing sensitive ground settings which are designed to see operate at a lower setting when the breaker does not. The company at the time also agreed to lower the fault settings on the relays. Through the years this has apparently reverted back to days without this equipment since this equipment used for protection of the public as well as the workers in the field are being directed to be turned off.
The concern about this is there is a feeling that the reason for this is to address outage minutes verses the safety concerns that brought this to the forefront 20 yrs ago. This will be an open item as well and the company is researching these concerns.
PGE Safety Walk Arounds
There were several issues and concerns stemming from the latest safety walk around. There are several concerns about its effectiveness as well as having the proper amount of time to complete them. This issue was put on the agenda to find a better way to perform these functions and improve on what we are currently doing.
It was agreed that we will address this in a separate group specifically set up to review the program which has not been done for 5-6 years to see what can be done to improve it and its effectiveness. This should take place in the near future.
Painters and grounding
This again has been a long standing open item which has gone from the company’s position that it was not an issue to CalOSHA stating in a letter that it was against the CalOSHA regulations. On July 16th I received a copy of the formal variance request from PGE to CalOSHA asking CalOSHA to allow them to continue this practice. This issue looks like it will be finally getting resolved one way or the other pending CalOSHA’s response to the variance request.
It was discussed several months ago with the company to try to study the health effects of rotating shifts. All thought this is an issue industry wide there is a company Circadian who has done research on this issue which the company had used in the past for information on this. The company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) has developed fatigue management training for employees working rotating shifts. While the initial reason to develop this training was to comply with a Department of Transportation (DOT) regulation for CGT, the proactive education on fatigue management and the benefits this information can provide to employees and supervisors is valuable to all employees who work rotating shifts.
These training classes are now available and will be rolled out in a phased approach; CGT first, Power Generation/Hydro second, Electric Control Center next and then to any other teams who would like to take advantage of these classes.
The training includes two classes – one for all employees, including supervisors (presented first) and a second for supervisors only. The all-employee class focuses on how to proactively manage our personal fatigue. This includes information on how to enable proper rest, the steps employees can take for success as well as an understanding of fatigue and fatigue triggers. It is strongly recommended that supervisors attend the employee training to gain a complete understanding of what is being taught to employees, to reinforce and support the techniques and behaviors being put into practice by employees, and to learn how to manage their own fatigue.
If you are in a classification that is listed above look for this training to be offered in the near future.
Requirement to obtain underground locations (USA) when installing driven ground rods
There had recently been questions asked pertaining to the requirement to call USA for underground locations prior to driving ground rods in the earth. There had been an incident where a ground rod was driven through some primary cable which fortunately did not result in any injuries but the potential was there. It had been recommended to use the screw type ground rods to avoid this type of incident in the future however if there is the need to use a driven type ground rods underground locations are required.
Testing and energizing reclosures
There seems to be a shift in responsibility and job duties on who tests and energizes reclosures prior to placing them into service. This work had been traditionally performed by substation group but in an effort to utilize the troubleman more this may be moving over to that work group. Concerns were raised over training and test equipment for this work assignment change which will need to be addressed and the company had stated it would be. This item is to remain as an open item.
FR Clothing allowances for New Hires and Hiring Hall employees
Recently received a request for clarification on what amount of FR clothing is to be provided to new employees and hiring hall employees who are required to wear it.
Depending on their base classification, new employees and HH are classified as infrequent, occasional, or full-time users and given the appropriate FR Clothing allowance. New hires are given the original allowance as opposed to the current amount under the belief that the original amount is what employees need to obtain a full set of clothing and the subsequent amounts are for replacements.
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.
No injury accident – a crew was dispatched to repair a burnt jumper on a source side cut-out of a regulator. The crew made repairs and begun to put the regulator on-line. When the source side solid blade switch was closed, the resistor on the bypass switch burned up causing molten slag to drop onto the bucket controls and onto the ground. The molten slag caused a small brush fire under the pole. As a second person was containing the fire, the lineman in the bucket noticed that the bucket was also on fire. As he reached for the controls to lower himself the hydraulic line burst and caught on fire as well throwing a tremendous amount of heat and flames at the bucket. The lineman in the bucket moved to the far side of the manbasket at which time he realized he needed to retreat. The co-worker on the ground tried to lower the bucket from the lower controls which only supplied more hydraulic fluid to the fire causing the flames to grow. The employee in the bucket climbed out of the manbasket and hung there while the employee on the ground extinguished the ground fire beneath him. The employee hanging from the manbasket was able to swing out away from the basket in order land in a softer spot on the ground. He landed feet first with his momentum causing him to roll. The employee was able to walk away from the incident with only minor stiffness in his shoulder.
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.
No Near Misses reported this month
Heat Illness and Awareness
Summer is here and in full swing. Along with the heat comes the potential for heat related illnesses. CalOSHA has enacted a heat illness standard 3395 designed to protect workers from these types of illnesses. Although the standard was originally intended to protect workers in the agricultural industry it applies to all workers working outdoors and will be enforced that way. This standard applies in all outdoor places of employment. The standard contains no specific limitations as to when it applies, and DOSH interprets the standard’s provisions to apply at all times when employees are at work outdoors.
Heat illness includes heat cramps, fainting, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke.
Workers have died or suffered serious health problems from these conditions.
Heat illness can be prevented.
Things we should all do to protect ourselves from the heat which are required by the regulation:
- Tell your supervisor if you are new to working in the heat or have had heat illness before.
- Stay alert to the weather. During a heat wave you are at greater risk of getting sick. You need to watch yourself and coworkers more closely, and may need to drink more water, take more breaks, and use other measures.
- Drink enough cool, fresh water Drink at least one 8-ounce cup (3 cones) every 15 minutes during your entire work shift. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink water.
- Do not drink alcohol.
- Avoid coffee. Choose water over soft drinks.
- Take rest breaks in the shade to cool down.
- Wear proper clothing. Loose fitting, light-weight and light-colored cotton clothes, a wide-brimmed hat or cap, and a bandana.
- Talk to your doctor if you have illnesses like diabetes, are taking medicines or are on a low salt diet.
- Know the symptoms of heat illness
- Watch for symptoms in yourself and your coworkers. If you feel any symptoms, tell your coworkers and supervisor immediately because you may need medical help. Know who to talk to and how to get help before you start each workday.
If you work outdoors, by law, your employer must provide you:
– Enough cool, fresh drinking water throughout the day.
– Access to shade or an equally cool spot for at least 5 minutes at a time.
– Training on how to prevent heat illness and how to call for emergency services.
- Heavy sweating
- High pulse rate
GET MEDICAL HELP
Life-threatening symptoms to be aware of:
- High body temperature
- Red, hot, dry skin
Fed OSHA releases new standard on Cranes and Derricks
Below you will find a fact sheet that includes links to the new Fed OSHA standard on cranes and Derricks. Currently 17 states already have laws in place that require licenses to operate this type of equipment which California is one of those states. This should however put tougher standard on operating cranes in Nevada.
With regards to our industry there are exemptions much like in the CalOSHA standard (Subchapter 7. General Industry Safety Orders
Group 13. Cranes and Other Hoisting Equipment Article 98. Operating Rules, §5006.1. Mobile Crane and Tower Crane-Operator Qualifications and Certification) this new standard contains exemptions for Digger derricks used for digging and setting power poles.
Cranes and Derricks in Construction Final Rule
July 28, 2010
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released a historic new standard, addressing the use of cranes and derricks in construction and replacing a decades old standard. The significant number of fatalities associated with the use of cranes and derricks in construction and the considerable technological advances in equipment since the publication of the old rule, issued in 1971, led the Labor Department to undertake this rulemaking.
In 1998, OSHA’s expert Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) established a workgroup to develop recommended changes to the current standard for cranes and derricks. In December 1999, ACCSH recommended that the Agency use negotiated rule making to develop the rule. The Cranes and Derricks Negotiated Rulemaking Committee (C-DAC) was convened in July 2003 and reached consensus on its draft document in July 2004. In 2006, ACCSH recommended that OSHA use the C-DAC consensus document as a basis for OSHA’s proposed rule, which was published in 2008. Public hearings were held in March 2009, and the public comment period on those proceedings closed in June 2009.
- The rule becomes effective 90 days after August 9, 2010, the date the final rule will be published in the Federal Register. Certain provisions have delayed effective dates ranging from 1 to 4 years.
- A copy of the regulatory text is available at: //www.osha.gov/doc/cranesreg.pdf
- Until the date of publication, the full rule, including the preamble, can be found at //www.ofr.gov/inspection.aspx. After publication, the rule can be found at the Federal Register or at www.osha.gov.
- This new standard will comprehensively address key hazards related to cranes and derricks on construction worksites, including the four main causes of worker death and injury: electrocution, crushed by parts of the equipment, struck-by the equipment/load, and falls.
- Significant requirements in this new rule include a pre-erection inspection of tower crane parts; use of synthetic slings in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions during assembly/disassembly work; assessment of ground conditions; qualification or certification of crane operators; and procedures for working in the vicinity of power lines.
- This final standard is expected to prevent 22 fatalities and 175 non-fatal injuries each year.
- Several provisions have been modified from the proposed rule. For example:
- Employers must comply with local and state operator licensing requirements which meet the minimum criteria specified in § 1926.1427.
- Employers must pay for certification or qualification of their currently uncertified or unqualified operators.
- Written certification tests may be administered in any language understood by the operator candidate.
- When employers with employees qualified for power transmission and distribution are working in accordance with the power transmission and distribution standard (§ 1910.269), that employer will be considered in compliance with this final rule’s requirements for working around power lines.
- Employers must use a qualified rigger for rigging operations during assembly/disassembly.
- Employers must perform a pre-erection inspection of tower cranes.
- This final rule requires operators of most types of cranes to be qualified or certified under one of the options set forth in § 1926.1427. Employers have up to 4 years to ensure that their operators are qualified or certified, unless they are operating in a state or city that has operator requirements.
- If a city or state has its own licensing or certification program, OSHA mandates compliance with that city or state’s requirements only if they meet the minimum criteria set forth in this rule at § 1926.1427.
- The certification requirements in the final rule are designed to work in conjunction with state and local laws.
- This final rule clarifies that employers must pay for all training required by the final rule and for certification of equipment operators employed as of the effective date of the rule.
- State Plans must issue job safety and health standards that are “at least as effective as” comparable federal standards within 6 months of federal issuance. State Plans also have the option to promulgate more stringent standards or standards covering hazards not addressed by federal standards.
- OSHA will have additional compliance assistance material available within the next month.
Ralph Armstrong is Business Representative, IBEW Local 1245