By Ralph Armstrong
Concerns were recently expressed regarding a specific procedure used when towers are being raised by the PG&E tower department. What is involved here is when a double circuit tower is being raised past practice is to de-energized one circuit while keeping the second circuit energized. As a safety precaution the procedure requires the towerman to install a hotstick on the energized phases and secured back to the tower in case the insulators separate when they are moving the tower.
The concern with this procedure centers on the CalOSHA language 2940(c) of the High Voltage Electrical Safety Orders (HVESO), which requires only qualified electrical workers to work on energized conductors or equipment connected to energized high-voltage systems. Currently this work method has been stopped until further notice and research can be done to determine if it is applicable. The CalOSHA standard referenced is below:
§2940. General Provisions.
(c) Qualified Electrical Workers. Only qualified electrical workers shall work on energized conductors or equipment connected to energized high-voltage systems. Except for replacing fuses, operating switches, or other operations that do not require the employee to contact energized high-voltage conductors or energized parts of equipment, clearing “trouble” or in emergencies involving hazard to life or property, no such employee shall be assigned to work alone. Employees in training, who are qualified by experience and training, shall be permitted to work on energized conductors or equipment connected to high-voltage systems while under the supervision or instruction of a qualified electrical worker.
(d) Observers. During the time work is being done on any exposed conductors or exposed parts of equipment connected to high-voltage systems, a qualified electrical worker, or an employee in training, shall be in close proximity at each work location to:
(1) act primarily as an observer for the purpose of preventing an accident, and
(2) render immediate assistance in the event of an accident. Such observer will not be required in connection with work on overhead trolley distribution circuits not exceeding 1,500 volts D.C. where there is no conductor of opposite polarity less than 4 feet there from, or where such work is performed from suitable tower platforms or other similar structures.