Inter-Union Gas Conference
Joe Joaquim attended the 2014 inter-union gas conference in Orlando, Florida. The conference is a chance for gas tradesmen and women to network and compare work processes and safety trends across the nation. Joe was shocked by the number of states that have become right-to-work states. Efforts have been made to break unions in other states by hiring contractors instead of using union-affiliated employees. Many companies have gone to contracting out in order to curb union growth. At the gas conference, there was discussion about possible exposure to cadmium while gas meters were being refurbished. PG&E closed its gas meter shop several years ago, but companies who still refurbish gas meters may have employees who are at risk for exposure. Joe learned a lot and noted that many companies are studying and using safety programs that are in use at PG&E. Joe thanked Local 1245 for sending him to the conference.
Training Record/Attendance Sheet Issues
There was discussion about the employer practice to have employees sign attendance sheets to attest that they have been adequately trained in subject matters or work practices. This issue has shown itself when employees are told they must sign attendance sheets, and then they are reported to go on record as operator-qualified without proper training. This can be a slippery slope for employees when records are used to prove they were trained. Signing a sheet does not equate to adequate training, so a sticker was made that reads, “signature does not mean compliance; it means attendance.” It is a good practice to sign at the completion of the training. All training records should show specific areas of training so employees know the training expectations and what they are signing.
Gas Fitter Injured by Vehicle
It was reported that on Sept 17, a gas fitter in Fresno working on a gas T&D crew was struck by a vehicle while putting out cones on a residential street. He was taken to the hospital and injuries were reported to be a gash to his forehead and a fractured disk. No other information was available at the time of the report.
Dig-In by Gas Crew
In August, it was reported that a crew in Santa Rosa hit a fiber optic line that had not been marked or cleared at the work location. A PG&E crew hit the line, breaking the conduit but not damaging the facility. It was also revealed that gas and primary electric lines were below the fiber. The work area had been cleared remotely but the crew was not informed. They did not see any marks when they dug and hit the line.
A discussion of the topic indicated that remote clearing does not rely on a site inspection and reliance on maps can cause dig-ins and possible injury or death. It is a common practice for PG&E to clear some facilities remotely, relying on system maps. Supervisors should question this method if they are not notified either by phone, email or by markings in the delineated area . USA rules are that anyone excavating must know if the notified agency has cleared their facilities or marked them. If it is unknown, the agency must be notified before the dig to give them a chance to mark or clear the facility.
National Safety Council Labor Division
Al White attended the National Safety Council Labor Division caucus in San Diego. He mentioned the importance of decreasing serious injuries and fatalities to the IBEW International Organization. Incoming I/O safety representative David Mullen stated that within the last year, 36 injuries and 4 fatalities were reported for the entire nation by IBEW locals. OSHA 300 logs are the only way to accumulate injury and fatality records.
According to national statistics, there have been 27 lineman fatalities nationwide this year to date. This disparity in reporting has larger effects because federal government agencies like OSHA and NIOSH use injury and fatality statistics to influence legislation for the utility and private industry.
There has been a slight increase in MVIs in the Bay Area Restoration and Control division. Other than the three events in the bay region, there were over 50 error-free work days — and then there were four events in one week.
Carlos Rodriguez, Utility Tree- Utility Tree Service has been informed by PG&E that 30 crews in the Sacramento area will be moved to do 4,000 tree units in the Chico area. The crews will move on Sept. 28 for an estimated two-week period for reliability distribution work. Carlos reported that it is unknown if the work will involve some trees burning in the line or just clearance trimming. Crews will have to keep their safety awareness high because they will be working in unfamiliar areas with an increased workload of 10-hour. days, 6 days a week. Fire is a big hazard in the hills and tree crews are required to carry fire suppression gear in case a fire gets started. Utility Tree Service will be performing maintenance on equipment and vehicles prior to the big move.
Mike Gomes, Modesto Irrigation District- The FR clothing standard is being studied in light of changes for the state of California, based on changes to 1910.269 incident energy requirements. Due to the rules change, FR clothing providers nationwide are unable to meet the need for clothing for the new users. Thousands of contractors that considered cotton clothing to meet the minimum requirement will have to provide arc flash protection by April 1, 2015.
MID is working to change rest period language for line crews who work extended emergency hours. The union is making a safety-related claim that crews do not get adequate rest because of the way rest is calculated (based on extending into the regular work day).
Dan Boschee, Frontier Communications- Still trying to get a policy set regarding active shooters. According to security operations there is no policy, but the company will look into making a change for 2015.
An issue was brought up regarding batteries in use at facilities and the wet chemicals involved. When the batteries are tested, employees must use a hydrometer-type tool which pulls 4 oz. of product to test for acid content. This presents a splash hazard and employees can be exposed to the acid. There is a tool that measures the acid levels without coming in contact with the chemical. Frontier is going to study using Celltron Ultra tester for future use.
Attended: Joe Joaquim, Mike Gomes, Carlos Rodriguez, Dan Boschee, Al White and Rich Lane.
Absent: Dane Moore and Mark Flanders.