PEER-TO-PEER SAFETY CAMPAIGN GOES LIVE
By Ralph Armstrong
The Locals Peer to Peer Lineman safety campaign has been finalized and was rolled out to members for the first time on Dec. 6 in San Francisco, with IBEW President Edwin Hill in attendance. You can be sure that we will publish more information about the Peer-to-Peer report in coming months.
A couple of things slowed the roll-out of this campaign. One was the time allocated to plan the implementation and roll out. The other was a more efficient and appropriate way to have the membership engaged through the IBEW Code of Excellence (COE), and the use of COE Stewards in the field to be engaged in the process as well as being advocates in using peer pressure to stop short cuts and unsafe acts.
To make sure this message is delivered to the membership, Local 1245 has hired Dean Gurke, a retired 1245 lineman and former Business Representative, on a temporary detail for the implementation and roll out of this program. This will be his primary focus, which should eliminate the “allocated time” issue but will still be a large task to accomplish.
The committee, as a result of some feed back during the trial run we did on this program a couple of months ago, needed to fill some holes in the program. The use of COE Stewards will be essential in the success of this campaign. They will be the members on the ground that are respected by their peers and are willing to step up and resolve issues as they arise. The number of these COE Stewards per location will have to be determined by each property’s make-up and location. More to come on this but it will provide an outlet for members who feel they have an issue that needs to be addressed and can be handled by their peers. This in no way will supplement any of the companies’ safety programs but will run behind the scenes and address the question, What can we do as a craft, union and professional, to make the safety of ourselves and our co-workers our top priority?
This program was started in the line departments because this is where we are experiencing the large and unacceptable number of fatal and serious accidents. If this campaign is successful, expect similar programs from the other work groups we represent.
PGE Close Call (pilot)
As previously reported, there is a new Letter Agreement with PG&E on piloting a Close Call Reporting Program in the Electric Transmission/Substation Maintenance & Construction (TSM&C) Department, effective through October 2011.
Close call reports can be submitted through several methods. You can report them directly to the company if you like, or report them through the union, using links on our web that lead to my e-mail and cell phone number. All reports through the union will be sanitized for anonymity. The letter agreement can be found on-line at www.ibew1245.com/news-PGE/LA_10-42_11-23-10.pdf
Painters and Grounds
There is no new update on the company’s request for a variance from CalOSHA. CalOSHA stated in September this process could take several months.
Cranes and Derricks
This new Fed OSHA rule took effect Nov. 8. CalOSHA is currently reviewing the over-1,000 page document and preparing to make changes to their current crane standard to meet the requirements in the Fed Standard.
This new ruling continues to be a topic in our industry because some of the changes in this standard will impact the way we do business in the future. The full digger derrick exemption we currently now enjoy will be replaced with a partial exemption which would only allow a person to operate one without a crane certification for digging pole holes, setting/removing poles and hanging/removing hardware on those poles. There is also a reduction in the maximum lifting capacity from 14,999 lbs or less than 25’ to a 2,000 lbs capacity that will require a crane certification as well as some questions regarding working around power lines.
I met with several superintendents from various properties earlier this month to discuss this topic as well as with PG&E on Nov. 1. I am encouraging all properties to send representatives to the public hearings scheduled for the first part of next year to voice their concerns and look for ways to address the new standard that would still meet the requirements CalOSHA is faced with meeting, such as construction vs. maintenance exemptions, since the Fed standard only covers construction activities and CalOSHA currently doesn’t separate the two.
Also we want to ensure that the full implementation of any new requirement be extended until the 2014 deadline the Fed standard has so properties can have the time to budget and plan for this new requirement. I am also actively speaking with CalOSHA addressing some of these concerns. More to come on this.
Safety Attire and Climbing Gear
There were some reports earlier in the year that some PG&E service areas had not seen anything official on the new policy to provide climbing gear or replace equipment that has been deemed unsafe. John Parks addressed those issues early on after our last meeting and the union has not heard anymore complaints from the field on this issue. We will continue to address any issue jointly if and when they arise but it appears that things are OK
Leaking rain gear is still a problem and as we move into the wetter months expect to hear more complaints on this topic. We know the crews would like to move to a Cabellas’ type guide wear; however, this equipment either can’t be made out of FR materials or is not available. The company is on their third generation of current equipment and the stuff they are purchasing is not cheap, but the complaints of it leaking are still being reported. The company has stated that if the equipment leaks to return it and have it repaired or replaced. We are recommending this be done as directed.
Use of Man-on-Line Tags
There was a concern brought up at the last PG&E/IBEW safety meeting about what some of the members felt was an improper use of a man-on-line tag as well as where these things should be placed.
This originally was noted in the company’s work procedure for Use of Shoo-fly Cable on Underground Distribution document. John Parks has the lead on this for PG&E and reported that he sees the concern and agreed with the concerns. He will be putting a committee together to identify and revise training and work methods to address this.
Sensitive Ground Settings
This is still an open item and the company is looking into the history behind the concern over having this equipment turned on in some areas. This was a topic in the 1990s and documents were provided as to where we thought we were with this equipment based on those documents. Still an open item.
Troubleman Work Jurisdiction and Safety
A concern was raised over the installation and testing practices on some equipment in the field such as regulators. It appears there is some inconsistency in different areas as to who performs the testing and placing this equipment in service. There were two different issues, one of which is a work jurisdiction issue and one is a safety issue. The company is looking into both concerns and a guidance document on this. Local 1245 Business Rep JV Macor has been actively involved with this issue.
Safety Walk a Rounds
There are concerns from both side of the effectiveness of these walk a rounds and both sides have agreed to sit down in a separate meeting to address them.
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 members. 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 near-misses were reported this month. 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 miss 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.
Ralph Armstrong is chairman of the Local 1245 Safety Committee.