Line Clearance Tree Trimmer Fatality
Local 1245 lost another member this week to another tragic fatal accident. 26-year-old Kenneth Williams lost his life on Wednesday, Dec. 30 when he fell approximately 40-50 feet from a tree while working for Wright Tree Service. Preliminary reports are that the accident occurred East of Orleans, Ca. in Humboldt County, where several Wright Tree crews had been doing storm work. The Orleans area had been hit hard with snow and many trees had failed as a result of snow loads. The power had been restored but there were still hundreds of trees damaged and threatening the lines. The accident occurred during the effort to eliminate these hazard trees. Please keep Kenneth’s family, friends and co-workers in your prayers.
Health and Safety Committee
Rich Lane (IBEW Business Representative) The Health and Safety committee has completed their review of the serious incident and fatality files which have been digitized and archives recorded on the Local 1245 server. Below is a breakdown of the significant injuries (SI) and fatalities (F) in five-year increments, starting in 1980 and ending in 2005.
- 1980-85: F: 28 SI: 44
- 1986-90: F: 10 SI: 33
- 1991-95: F: 11 SI: 13
- 1996-00: F: 16 SI: 60
- 2001-05: F: 11 SI: 35
Fatalities: Total= 76
Significant Injuries: Total= 185
Dan Boschee (Frontier Communications) Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) have been installed at Frontier’s main service center and switching center. The suggestion was made months ago to the company by the joint union/company safety committee, and the company agreed that the units would be good to have on property in the event of a heart-related emergency.
Frontier Corporate has begun to consider creating a policy related to active shooter events. A new policy would require an awareness and training effort, and so study of the policy would be needed.
Mark Flanders (SMUD) Mark shared that an issue related to switching substation breakers to de-energize work areas. This seemingly safer practice has some inherent safety issues that were not addressed with the work crews who will have to perform the work. The new work rules were put in place without consulting substation workers.
A ladder fell from a truck that was traveling on Highway 50, causing a traffic hazard. It seems the crew had requested a rack for the truck in October and the ladder was not tied down. The crew has still not received the rack, but does tie down the ladder now.
Mike Gomes (Modesto Irrigation District) 100% attachment for line crews has been completed but employees are still waiting on FR clothing. Crews have been in FR for some time now, but torn and worn out clothing comes back from the cleaning service unrepaired. MID supervision claims that they are waiting for Cal/OSHA to create FR work rules so they will know how to proceed. Mike had informed supervision that the Fed OSHA rules apply now and that Cal rules may be years in development, but they insist on waiting.
Joe Gomes (PG&E Gas Ops) Joe was not able to be present to the committee, but called in to report that he completed his interviews of employees who experienced respirator issues while performing clean-up during the fires last summer. Joe and Al White were requested by the health and safety committee to compile information so that PG&E’s respiratory protection policy can be reviewed.
Dane Moore (PG&E Electric Ops) Dane shared that after the Clifford Bengs fatality, PG&E reviewed past tailboard forms and found that in some cases forms were not being filled out properly or accurately. This development is being reviewed for future action.
PG&E is stepping up their active shooter program and looking at the issue of multiple vehicles passing through gates and employees piggy-backing other employees through secure entrances.
Al White (PG&E Restoration) Al reported that PG&E will have the new cell phone policy in place beginning January 1, 2016. All employees will be required not to use a cell phone in a vehicle while it is being operated. A special ring tone will be used to alert those who respond to emergencies to find a safe place to communicate without operating the vehicle. The committee discussed the difference in cognitive brain response between using a cell phone and a two-way radio. A radio is not regulated under the same rules as cell phones.
Peer to Peer Initiatives
All three peer initiatives will be embarking on a series of informational meetings designed to increase safety awareness and recruit safety stewards.
The Keep the Clearance group has already begun the effort to visit all Davey Tree work yards by visiting the Auburn work group in mid-December. They will continue to visit six other yards in 2016, and are working on setting additional meetings with other tree companies.
Control the Pressure continues to address issues related to getting AEDs for remote work areas and emergency alert program for gas service employees. They also travel to work yards to speak to employees.
Hold the Pull has been invited to help with the development of a peer program at Local 57 in Salt Lake City and will continue apprentice speaking engagements at the PG&E Livermore Training Academy. HTP has also been invited to participate in the stewards training in Vacaville, Reno and the U-N-ME new member conference.