Gerald “Jerry” Biedinger, a T&D Equipment Operator with 33 years of Company experience, was fatally injured on August 20th at approximately 12:00 noon while working in a rural area near the city of Tuolumne. The initial investigation indicates that Jerry sustained an electrical contact while operating a Highway Digger.
Jerry was working alone and was assigned to dig four pole holes for a new business construction project. Jerry had completed digging the first three pole holes and had positioned the Highway Digger for the fourth hole, which was to be the inter-set pole, mid-span in a 17kV circuit. Jerry raised the digger boom into the position to dig the hole. While raising the boom into the air, the boom contacted one phase of the single phase 17kV line. The circuit remained energized, thus energizing the vehicle at line voltage. For some unknown reason, Jerry made contact with the ground and the vehicle at the same time. Jerry was found near the rear of the vehicle by a third party who called emergency services.
John Mendoza, Mike Saner and I were on the scene until 9:30pm the night of the accident as it was made safe for the investigation process. The company has formed an accident investigation team which includes 2 members from our bargaining unit. This accident investigation team began the investigation process on Aug. 21 and it is on-going.
A gas employee working on a service valve at a residence received minor burns to his hand. Gas tech working on a call of leaking gas determined collar on the regulator was the source of the leak. The regulator had to be moved in order to tighten the collar. While moving the regulator, it made contact with the metal siding of the house, and the ambient gas ignited, creating a flash in the area of the technician’s hands. After T Man was called, it was determined that the siding of the house was energized at 120 volts, due to faulty wiring, and/or lack of ground. The siding work was recent, which may have had a bearing. Employee was wearing FR shirt, which is not required for this work.
While getting ready to pull old poles, crew had boom out and heard a thud on the ground. Evidently a large shackle which had been affixed to the upper part of the underside of the boom had fallen off its holding eye. After some brief investigation, it was revealed that the straight pin use in the shackle had a missing cotter pin. Luckily no personnel were injured.
Safety Concerns at DCPP
Over the last couple of months we have been dealing with a couple of safety concerns that have been brought up at Diablo Canyon Power Plant. These concerns have been centered on Confined Space program, First Aid CPR requirements and the eye wash/drench shower requirements while working around chemicals. The company has acknowledged that some of these concerns are warranted and is developing an action plan to correct these issues.
It is important to all that these issues are corrected and until they are all hazards will need to be mitigated either by changes in procedures, policies or the use of additional PPE and as always if the hazards are present it is everyone’s responsibility to not perform any work that would lead to injury. Please refer to your workplace postings for additional information on this.
Fed OSHA Standard on Cranes and Derricks
The Fed OSHA standard has been released with a 2011 implementation date. There are several questions and concerns pertaining to this standard which are warranted. CalOSHA is 1 of 17 states that currently have a crane standard in place; however, the new Fed standard has some things in it that are significantly different than CalOSHA.
Some of the differences which will need to be addressed by CalOSHA are the use of digger derricks. CalOSHA has a full exemption for digger derricks where the new standard will only exempt while working on power poles. So if this equipment is being used to set pad mount transformers or in substations or lifting material the exemption would not be applicable. Two more issues are the capacity requirements and the rigger training requirement. Currently under CalOSHA 5006.1 the requirements are anything that has a lifting capacity greater than 14,999 lbs or a boom length greater than 25’. The new fed standard impacts cranes with a capacity greater than 1 ton and the rigger certification will be new.
For work in Nevada this new standard will have an immediate impact. For California, unless you work for a government agency there should be a little bit of a lag until they address these new requirements which will eventually need to happen. More updates on this as they become available.