By Ralph Armstrong
PG&E FR Clothing Update
PG&E Letter Agreement 13-55 on FR Clothing is pending signatures. Once signatures are in place we should get a date on when the new allowances will be made available. Details in this letter agreement are:
Allowance for 2013 is $500 for full-time users and $250 for part-time users.
Employees will not be able to roll over any allotment.
The intent of this agreement is to ensure employees are provided with funds to purchase all required FR Clothing. To that end, the IBEW and Company agree to set up a two-person committee (currently Ralph Armstrong and Kevin Ellison) to address FR Clothing concerns.
If an employee’s allotment is such that they do not have enough funds to purchase the FR Clothing, they need to work safely or if an employee otherwise has an issue with obtaining adequate FR Clothing, the employee’s first line of relief would be to speak to his/her supervisor. If the supervisor is unable to resolve the issue, the employee should e-mail Ralph Armstrong RMA1@IBEW1245.com and Kevin Ellison at PKE3@pge.com.
The parties also reaffirm the employees’ ability to replace damaged clothing in accordance with LA 08-23 “Clothing damaged on the job will be replaced or repaired and will not be charged to the employee’s allowance”; as well as the supervisors’ ability to provide additional clothing “Supervisors will have the discretion to provide additional clothing, based on working conditions, to employees that do not count toward the employee’s allowance”.
Accidents / Injuries
In June a SMUD troubleman received a primary electrical contact while assisting an elec tech trouble shooting a voltage problem. The accident is under investigation by the company and CalOSHA with little to report at this time. The injured worker received several exit wound burns on various parts of his body, with the worst wound being the entry wound which resulted in the loss of the employee’s hand and part of the arm. Member is out of the hospital and is home.
Vehicle Accident—Bucket Truck rollover:
On Monday, July 15, at approximately 12:00 p.m., there was a motor vehicle incident involving two Kern Division General Construction (GC) Linemen in a 2013 International 7500 6X4 Material Handler. The two Linemen were traveling Eastbound on Highway 58 (winding, two lane highway) to the Bakersfield GC yard in a rural area of San Luis Obispo County.
While negotiating a slight, downhill, sweeping right turn, the rear end of the truck started to slide pitching the vehicle to the left resulting in the vehicle rolling over and coming to rest on the driver’s side. There were no injuries to the employees and no third parties were involved. The vehicle is a total loss.
The incident is being investigated by the California Highway Patrol (CHP), and PG&E has requested the services of a third party accident reconstruction specialist to independently investigate the incident.
Vehicle Accident—Trouble Truck:
The vehicle was a 2007 F550 with a Terex squirt boom, non-hybrid that did not appear overly loaded or stuffed full of debris/material.
The time of the accident was late afternoon/early evening with the sun setting directly in front of the driver’s direction of travel.
He was in the service center, driving from a tool storage facility to another location heading northbound at what we believe to be about 15 to 20 mph (the investigators will try to get the exact speed from the vehicle data), when he turned to the left, the setting sun and the “A” pillar blocked his view of the street light set in a concrete base. This light has been hit before as recently as a month or two ago, we believe. At least one light in the yard has some barricades around from being tagged repeatedly, but the others do not appear to have any bollards or markers around them. There did not appear to be any skid marks and he hit it pretty square on, resulting in the air bags deploying. An on-going investigation is under way
Vehicle Accident—Meter Reader:
On June 29th, a HH meter reader from Santa Rosa was injured when the brakes in her vehicle failed and caused the vehicle to leave the roadway, striking a tree. The driver was extracted by EMS and airlifted to SRM because her injuries looked very severe at the time. She suffered a broken arm, some cuts and bruises. An investigation into this accident is on-going.
Flippo Accident Findings
Incident Summary: On Nov. 30, 2012, Tom Flippo, a Woodland Troubleman with 39 years of company experience, was in his 10th hour of an extended work shift in support of storm restoration efforts. Tom was in route back to the Woodland Service Center when he initiated a first call at approximately 1:21 a.m. to a fellow Troubleman that spanned 28 minutes ending at 1:49 a.m. During this first call, he received a second call, at approximately 1:36 a.m., from the Auburn Control Center with a request to perform switching in the Clarksburg area. Tom was on the phone with the Auburn Control Center for about three minutes. Phone records indicate that when Tom received the call from the Auburn Control Center, he maintained the conversation from his initial call. Upon concluding the first phone call at approximately 1:49 a.m., Tom approached the signalized intersection of Lake Washington Boulevard and Southport Parkway at an estimated speed of 45-50 mph. As Tom approached the intersection, the 2008 F550 Trouble Truck he was driving gradually moved outside of the right lane toward the outside of the left hand curve. The vehicle continued through the intersection moving farther away from its proper lane of travel, and at approximately 1:50 a.m., collided head-on into a large traffic signal pole located on the southwest corner of the intersection. Refer to Figure 1.
We do not know why Tom did not keep his truck in the southbound travel lane, resulting in the truck he was driving to collide head-on into a large traffic signal pole.
Although we may never know the specific cause of this terrible accident, we believe that due to the fact that Tom still had a cell phone in his hand after the crash, and based on phone records, distracted driving may have been a contributing factor.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) estimates that there are at least 3,000 deaths annually from distraction-affected crashes, where drivers lost focus on safe control of their vehicles due to manual, visual or cognitive distraction. We continue to seek solutions to the problems that result from distracted driving and feel that the corrective actions noted in the IBEW 1245 Safety Committee Report may help avoid crashes due to distracted driving as well as improve driver behaviors.
IBEW LOCAL 1245 SAFETY COMMITTEE REPORT
Health and Safety Committee Attends NSC Labor Division Meeting
Members of the Local 1245 Health and Safety Committee attended the National Safety Council Labor Division Spring meeting May 4-9. Safety training meetings and the IBEW international caucus were on schedule for committee members Art Torres, Al White, Dan Boschee and Business Representative Rich Lane. Classes attended were OSHA 10 hour training, NSC Distracted Driving Initiative, Controlling Workplace Hazards and NFPA 70E compliance training. The last two days consisted of meetings with the IBEW caucus that included break-outs by industry and a general caucus including an awards luncheon. Below is one of the highlights:
Distracted Driving No. 1 Killer of Youth
According to National Safety Council Senior Director of Transportation Dave Teater, in the last 25 years 1 million deaths have occurred on the nation’s highways. By far the largest killer of those between the ages of 15-24 years is distracted driving, claiming 35,000 young people per year . Due to the advent of the cell phone over 30 years ago the phenomenon of distracted driving has produced alarming statistics as well as numerous studies related to human brain function while using a cell phone or texting while driving. The latest statistics compiled in 2011 show that 213,000 crashes were attributed to texting while driving and 1.1 million to cell phone use, numbers largely considered to be underreported by law enforcement.
In physiological terms the human brain is conditioned to do one thing well and when taxed with other tasks will choose to focus on the cell phone conversation over driving on the road. “Cell phone use is the driving equivalent of .08 blood alcohol content,” Teater says, “ when you use a cell phone the same effect takes place, the vision narrows, attention dulled and peripheral vision impaired… hands free is not danger free, the same effect takes place regardless.” Teater ought to know—his 9-year-old son was killed by a driver who ran a stop light while using a cell phone. Now Teater’s mission is to spread the word on the tragedy of distracted driving.
Distracted driving is catching the attention of many others across the nation, including national corporations and small business. Coca Cola was sued for $21 million by a driver who was injured in an accident and it was proved that Coke had no distracted driving policy. Companies are also finding that using a cell phone for company business does not equate to a more productive employee. Studies have shown that business decisions made while driving are less effective due to a 37% drop in brain activity. Finally, over 2000 companies who have put in place no cell phone use policies while driving have recorded only a 1.5% drop in productivity.
What can you do to reduce distracted driving while on the road? First, make a test plan for 30 days. Try your plan out first by putting a statement on your pick-up message that you support reducing distracted driving and will not answer while driving. Make a note of how many urgent calls you receive- most likely you will not have many. Prepare your family and co-workers so they know what you are doing. Tell those who may need to contact you in an emergency to call twice in quick succession and you will pull off the road and call back. At the end of the 30 day trial evaluate the impact call free had on your commute, work day and driving experience—it will probably be significant.
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. See the most recent near-misses at: www.ibew1245.com/safety-near-miss.html.