Communications Report: Cinch-Lock ladder attachments are becoming required in the State of Oregon. Cinch-lock is a brand name for ladder top attachments that secure ladders at phone level prior to climbing the ladder. At Frontier, ladders are being phased out when they become unserviceable, and new attachable ladders will be the replacement. Buckingham gave a demonstration of fall restraint at the NSC labor division meeting.
A safety meeting was held regarding batteries that are swollen and leaking in remote sites at Frontier Communications. An employee in Washington reportedly inhaled some gas and had respiratory problems. Supervision has cautioned employees not to go into facilities that smell of gas. Some sites are vented, so exposure may be increased inside cabinets that techs open. There is concern that there could be increased degradation if employees don’t enter facilities because of fear of exposure. There are no gas detection devices in any of the facilities. Cabinets in the open can become extremely hot, increasing possibility of off-gassing from batteries.
At the NSC communications division there was a discussion about unregulated attachment of high frequency communications cell tower repeaters very close to apartment complexes. High levels of rf are exposing people to radiation. Radio frequency radiation is known to contribute to certain cancers and tumors.
Gas Report: At the International Gas conference in Portland there was a discussion about situational awareness. Four fatalities were cited last year, including a gas worker who caught in an explosion evacuating civilians from a building; a worker in St. Louis who was shot by a customer who did not want him on the property; and the PG&E Customer Service Rep who was killed in Fresno (the fourth fatality was not identified). One big take-away is that employees must read a situation for danger while on a person’s property. If a person is resisting an employee’s presence, just leave.
IBEW Health and Safety Committee members went to Palm Springs for a utility conference, and learned that an attorney representing union-represented members is working on mandating training on utility first responders. This may be pursued through the PUC to create a structure for computer-based training.
It was suggested that, due to the new safety re-organization, the union’s Health & Safety committee should have a meeting with PG&E safety officials from both gas and electric. The hope to arrange this meeting in the second quarter, in order to ask questions pertaining to safety initiatives and long-range safety plans.
Tree Report: Ramon Ayala, an employee of Synergy Tree, fell out of a tree while working a backyard easement. His fellow employees did not witness the fall; he was found on the ground. His injuries included a fractured spine and three broken ribs. Doctors put him in a drug-induced coma, and he died three days later. Cal OSHA is conducting an investigation and IBEW Business Representative Abel Sanchez is involved.
A customer saw that a crew was cutting too much of a tree, and he got under the tree and would not move. The crew could not work any longer, had to call supervision, and subsequently left the job.
A climber working in a tree had a close call when he had too much slack in the climb line, meaning he could have fallen all the way to the ground before his climb line would have stopped him.
97 close call reports were reported to the Keep the Clearance committee by tree trimmers over the course of 2017. No other group — including gas, electric, or other work force affiliated with Local 1245 — has reported so many close calls or near misses annually. In fact, this number is more than all of the other groups combined.
There is an issue with some tree crews not coning off the drop zone. Moving equipment is part of the job and required, but crews complain there is too much equipment to haul around in remote areas, including water packs for extinguishing a fire (required even when not hauling a chainsaw). One solution suggested by the H&S committee would be to use a deer cart to haul equipment rather than by hand. Committee member Dan Boschee found a link for deer carts that can haul 250 lbs. at a cost of $69. Crews can haul equipment without having to carry tools on their bodies risking slips, falls or other injury. Link: www.sportsmansguide.com
Electric Report: IBEW I/O Director of Safety and Health David Mullen sent a request on behalf of IBEW Local 55 to ask if any members have seen incidents of cracking on AB Chance cutouts that are exposed to severe cold and ice.
At Modesto Irrigation District, there was a language change in negotiations regarding FR clothing, and who is responsible for replacement has become a bone of contention.
A spokesperson for EHazard discussed MAD distances and arc flash assessments. The question came up whether Fed or State OSHA rules apply currently in California.
Incident Reports: A member reported a knife cut to the back, which occurred when a piece of #6 wire became entangled and the lineman reached back and cut himself trying to cut the wire hook loose.
A lineman was shocked while flipping a service into 12kV. He was not seriously injured.
Some improvement on communication are needed during disasters. When disaster strikes, there are several groups trying to react and assist in restoration. Knowing who is out on site can be difficult unless the whole line is patrolled and deemed cleared. A T-man recently reported he was on a patrol of power outage on a line during fire restoration. He reported in to DO and met with assessment team. DO requested to close in line but T-man wanted to contact an assessment team that was in the area prior to energizing. After assessment team had cleared off, DO reported that no one else was in the area. DO again requested to close the breaker and energize the line in question but Cal Fire had to clear off prior to energizing. During this time it must be noted that another assessment crew of 20 men from construction was found in the area as well. Restoration, Construction and other responders were found in the area of the line that was out of service however there was no coordination with each other or knew they were in the area.
Health and Safety Committee noted in 2017 there were 11 Form 173 reports that went to the IBEW International office. The 173 form is required by the International office and tracks accidents and trends in the industry. Of the 11 reports. two were tree worker fatalities, one was the PG&E CSR fatality, and the other eight were serious injuries. By comparison, in 2016, Local 1245 has reported 15 Form 173 reports, including four fatalities and 11 serious injuries.
–Richard Lane, IBEW 1245 Business Representative