On Oct. 13 at approximately 5:30 PM we lost two more of our members in an unfortunate vehicle accident. Ryan Miles (29) and Aaron Weiss (31), both General Construction Linemen for PG&E out of the Chico yard were killed when the F-550 truck they were driving veered off of Highway 70 in the Feather River Canyon area and plunged into the reservoir. At the time of the accident there were four employees in the vehicle, of which two were able to escape with minor injuries, and unfortunately two did not.
The company, CHP and CalOSHA were all investigating this accident. IBEW had three members participate in the fact finding portion of the investigation, from GC, Division, and the GC Business Representative for that area.
The cause of the accident has not been released yet pending the investigations. Please keep both of these members and their families in your prayers and we will pass along more info as it becomes available.
There have been several fundraisers scheduled for the families of these fallen members, such as proceeds from pizza purchases to a golf tournament and a Letter Agreement allowing members to donate vacation time. Both members leave young families behind. Please check the IBEW 1245 website for information on some of these fund raisers.
Serious Vehicle Accident
On Oct. 21, at approximately 5:17 PM, another one of our members, Jeremy Kirk (32), a Power Generation GC Hydro Construction Utility Worker, was seriously injured in a single vehicle accident.
His vehicle went off the road into an embankment off of Highway 108 east of Sonora. Jeremy was transported via life-flight to the hospital where he remains in critical condition. Not much has been released pertaining to this accident and information is slow on Jeremy’s condition other than he has gone through several surgeries for his injuries.
The company, CHP and CalOSHA are all investigating this accident and we hope to have more information on the cause soon. Please keep Jeremy, his wife and two children in your prayers as they go through this difficult time.
Tree Worker Fatality
On Sept. 28 Local 1245 lost another member due to an on-the-job accident. Davey Tree Surgery employee Carlos Amezcua, 46, died as a result of a fall from an aerial lift while working in the Monterey area.
What is being reported is around 10:30 AM Carlos was trimming a tree out of a 2-man aerial lift working approximately 35 feet in the air when he fell from the manbasket. Not many details are available yet on what caused him to fall out of the manbasket and all indications at this time are that Carlos was not wearing his safety harness. CalOSHA is investigating this accident and more details will be made available when they are known.
Carlos started his career with Arbor Tree in April 1996, and then worked with Davey Tree starting in May 2004. He lived in Salinas, CA and was initiated into IBEW on May 31, 1996. He was married with 3 children and was considered a model union member. He will surely be missed.
Serious Accident, Fall from Pole
On Sept. 20 a Local 1245 lineman working for PG&E was seriously injured as a result of falling approximately 25 feet from a pole after the flip line he was using for work positioning was severed by a drill bit auguring a hole through the pole. The member, Miguel Gutierrez, was transported to UC Davis Trauma Center in serious condition. On Sept. 23 Miguel had surgery to fuse broken vertebrae (T-1 through T-10) and install a chest tube to drain fluid from his lungs. Miguel will be fitted with a torso cast, which will restrict movement of his fused vertebras for 2 months. He said his doctor thinks he will be recovered in 3 to 4 months. Other than the injuries he is in great physical shape, which should hasten his recovery. Miguel also has 4 fractured ribs, and a fractured sternum which makes it painful to breathe.
Peer To Peer Safety Campaigns
Several things have taken place over the last couple of months pertaining to the Lineman Peer to Peer safety program. The Hold the Pull facebook page for safety stewards is finally up and we are in the process of sending invitations to the designated safety stewards to join in.
On Aug. 31 the first training session for these new Safety Stewards took place in Vacaville with approximately 40 members participating. The training consisted of roles and responsibilities, expectations, resources as well as a presentation by Jeff “Odie” Espenship on approachability, which is key in intervening when someone chooses to take short cuts or works unsafe.
The new safety stewards will help deal with safety issues in the field throughout our jurisdiction and are part of the new approach of using peer pressure to get people to resist the temptation of taking short cuts. The use of the IBEW’s Code of Excellence has provided the structure and guidelines for these safety stewards but 10 of our local members developed the Local 1245 Peer to Peer program. Appointments were made by each area’s business representative.
The Hold the Pull committee presented to LMUD on Sept. 29. That leaves two employers who have not yet agreed to presentations: Mt. Wheeler and Wells REC. Business Rep. Randy Osborn is in discussions to try to persuade these two to participate. In November the advisory group from this committee will meet again to plan what’s next and develop a strategy for moving forward and keeping everyone involved. It is one thing to get it started and another to keep the momentum going and keeping everyone involved. There will be more updates on this as new information becomes available.
Gas Safety Committee (Peer to Peer)
On Oct. 7 the newly-formed Control the Pressure Gas Safety Peer to Peer work group presented their presentation to management of both PG&E and NV Energy with positive comments about this initiative by both. The next step is to take this presentation to the field which will kick off in Reno on Nov. 29 with plans for it to be held at the Grand Sierra hotel. This committee will meet again on Nov. 16 to put the final touches based on the feedback from the management presentations.
This program is also designed to use the Code of Excellence and peer pressure to deal with safety issues within this work group.
First Annual Pacific Coast Safetyfest
Local 1245 has been asked to participate in the first annual Pacific Coast Safety Fest to take place in Dublin, Ca. at Camp Parks. This will be a weeklong free safety training event that will begin on Feb. 27, 2012 and run through March 2, 2012. Read more in our Safety Report posted Oct. 4.
PG&E, FR Clothing Issues
There is a new Tyndale catalog that should be released soon from PG&E to their employees for this new clothing cycle; however there are a couple of issues we are trying to work through with the company before it is released. Read more in our Safety Report posted Oct. 4.
CalOSHA Advisory Committee Meeting on the New Crane Standard
On Oct. 4-5 I attended two full days of meetings with CalOSHA in Sacramento to discuss the recent crane standard and conflicts between the existing standard and the new one.
The recent rulemaking regarding cranes and derricks (the State CDAC adoption) was necessary in order to ensure that the state’s regulations were at least as effective as newly-adopted federal standards. In order to make the needed changes expeditiously, the Horcher process was used, and under that process, the state rulemaking is limited to adopting provisions that read virtually the same as the federal provisions except where existing state standards are more protective. That rulemaking disclosed a number of concerns that could not be addressed within the Horcher process. The purpose of the present rulemaking is to address those concerns. Therefore, this proposed rulemaking, and the deliberations of this advisory committee, will be limited to the following:
- Coordinating differences between Construction Safety Orders and General Industry Safety Orders where they cover the same subjects;
- Reviewing issues brought up during the State CDAC adoptions which were outside the scope of the Horcher process (i.e., issues that called for something other than the adoption of federal wording).
Issues that had the most impact to our industry were the digger derrick exemption and minimum approach distances. It is important not only that our labor union be here to have input in these industry issues, but the other stakeholders in our industry be here as well. Both PG&E and Southern California Edison had representatives there to provide input on these issues.
Forms and guidelines are on the website. Units should use them as part of their unit meeting and submit them to the Local 1245 Safety 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 meetingare listed below:
- A three man contract crew working for 3 Phase Power in the Dinsmore, Ca. area rolled an all terrain vehicle. All three workers were able to right the vehicle and drive out. One of the members wound up injuring his hip in the roll over which required a couple nights’ stay in the hospital due to a tear in the muscle.
- On Oct. 24 an employee received a hairline fracture and lacerations to his foot when another employee lowered the outrigger of the bucket truck on it. The employee was transported by ambulance to the hospital where he was treated and released on modified duty.
- On Oct. 26 an accident occurred in Anaheim involving one city employee and two IBEW construction employees. Ben Davis, Local 1245 foreman, Now Winter, Local 47 apprentice, and Gary Willright, city inspector, were taken to UCI Medical center burn unit. Now Winter was treated and released. Ben and Gary were admitted with oil burns. No one sustained electric or fire burns, just burns as a result of hot oil. The job was to change out an old 120/208 3 phase pad mount transformer. They had turned off the transformer a few times to take rotation. When they reenergized the transformer it blew.
- A member working for Hotline Construction was involved in a vehicle accident while in transit at the end of the day to Brentwood. The accident is still under investigation. It appears the other driver was attempting to pass on a two-lane portion of the road which was marked, “Do Not Pass” and hit his company vehicle head on. The other driver is believed to have died in the accident. Our member was treated and released, and returned to work.
- We were made aware recently that new member Jeff Washabaugh, a groundman, was dispatched on Sept. 26 to a job and never arrived. His vehicle was found off the road in what appears to be a single vehicle accident with Jeff passing in the accident. Jeff was 23 years old and a recent graduate of the Northwest Linemans College.
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 promote awareness to others of those hazards.
Please read about the latest near misses.