Posted: October 1, 2012
Tree trimmer fatality, PG&E rain gear
and other safety news
by Ralph Armstrong
Renee Curiel, an IBEW Local 1245 Line Clearance Tree Trimmer for Davey Tree Surgery, was fatally injured on Sept. 27.
Curiel, 26, was felling trees in the aftermath of the “Chips Fire” near Canyon Dam, CA. He was clearing trees near a 60kV line coming out of Butts Lake when he was struck by a 67-foot tree top that was knocked out of an adjacent tree when it was struck by the tree he was felling.
Local 1245 Business Representative Carl Lamers was on site the next day with CalOSHA and company officials to assist with the investigation.
The union offers its condolences to the friends, family and co-workers of Brother Renee Curiel.
Peer-To-Peer Committee Activities
Hold the Pull
The HTP committee met on Sept. 18 and worked on planning the 2013 meeting and presentation schedule. PG&E Livermore Training Center (LTC) has been offered an additional monthly safety presentation to the pre-apprentice groups, putting the number of presentations at LTC to two a month. LTC staff supports the idea but will have to check on how it will fit into the schedule. The committee has also decided to bring their message to unit meetings starting in October 2012 and into 2013. Fifteen target units have been identified including PG&E and public sector units. Union business reps will be contacted and the presentations will be by 2 or 3 representatives of the committee. The first presentation will be in Placerville on Oct. 4.
The HTP committee is looking to add two more committee members. Due to the increase in speaking schedules and other activities the current committee compliment of six members will need additional help. The current committee is comprised of four PG&E members and two public sector members.
Control the Pressure
The CTP committee met on Sept. 6. CTP also is making plans to visit PG&E and NV Energy gas training schools. It is their hope that they can get an approved regular schedule for the year 2013. Joe Osterlund is helping with this task. CTP committee members have been assigned safety stewards that they will call on a regular basis to stay in contact and monitor safety issues.
The CTP committee has requested and been granted an invitation to participate in quarterly informational meetings between Local 1245 staff, field personnel and PG&E gas management. These meetings are held with senior gas management and include information about system management, maintenance and operational matters. PG&E Senior Manager Nick Stavropoulos was pleased that CTP members will be a part of the meeting dialogue. The CTP committee wishes to thank Tom for extending the invitation.
Keep the Clearance
The KTC committee held its first safety steward conference on Sept. 27 at Weakley Hall in Vacaville. Initially 35 safety stewards were invited to attend the training but tree companies could not spare the crew members working on fire damage up North and a second date of Nov. 8 was scheduled. The training consisted of safety awareness and communication strategies, review of steward and peer committee roles and responsibilities and how to use the Local 1245 secure safety website. There was much discussion on future changes for the line clearance tree trimmer trade in light of the new master agreement and recently enacted CalOSHA regulations. All 21 stewards showed strong interest in their duties and understood that they are a part of a time of change for Local 1245 tree trimmers. Big thanks to Junior Ornelas and Carl Lamers for their help with the steward training.
First Responder Training Program
The Local 1245 first responder training program began on Sept. 11 with a series of six programs on photovoltaic (solar) safety for firefighters. These programs were conducted for six stations of the Turlock Fire Department. The photovoltaic program was presented upon request by Chief Brian White and were approximately two hours in duration each. The Local 1245 FR program will next go to the Modesto Regional Fire Training Academy at Modesto Jr. College on Oct. 10 for a full six hour training session that will include the complete program. A meeting is being scheduled with the CHP Academy commander who is also showing an interest in the program as well as the California Emergency Management Association.
With the transition from Tyndale to Riverside for PG&E's FR clothing needs and ongoing changes to the type of work performed by some of gas employees, leaders of various departments in gas have recognized that the Arc Flash Hazard Assessments performed over four years ago may not reflect those FR clothing needs and ongoing changes. Things like Smart Meters and other innovations have affected the amount of electrical work performed by gas classifications.
PG&E's gas departments are forming an ad hoc committee to discuss assessments and FR clothing needs. Like the Arc Flash Hazard/FR Clothing Committee, Local 1245 has provided members to participate in these discussions.
The goal of this committee is to focus on the old assessments, perform new ones if needed and identify gaps and/or opportunities to improve.
PGE New FR Rain Gear
After several years and a lot of money in research and development working to find breathable FR Raingear it looks like this new raingear PG&E is getting into the field may be the answer. Below is what should have been sent out to the field regarding this gear, which is a gortex fabric which will keep you dry from the elements as well as breathable so you won’t get soaked with perspiration.
Here is the communication:
We are ready to start the process of placing orders for Lineworker raingear for the 2012-13 season. The Lineworker Raingear team has been at work selecting breathable FR raingear that keeps Lineworkers reasonably dry for over a year. We are very pleased to have selected a Lac-Mac assembled Gore product after last storm season’s wear-test. We are very impressed with the product as well as Lac-Mac and Gore’s willingness to work with us and their dedication to quality. Without a doubt this is the best breathable FR raingear available. The attached Raingear Update has a great deal of background information as well as FAQ’s on Lineworker Raingear (be sure to click through to the embedded E-mails as well)
This is a highly technical and costly garment which is designed for Lineworkers. We do not recommend this garment for Supervisors, Coordinators, and others who are not performing linework. Due to the manufacturing schedule and our budget planning, the raingear will be delivered in two waves. The first wave of 1,000 suits is scheduled for delivery in November. The second 1,000 in January. (Note: costs for this raingear purchase was planned into PCC’s). Lac-Mac will continue to manufacture suits beyond the initial 2,000 as orders are received.
Orders need to be placed before October 31st through S&S. When order is placed on SRM Catalog, the LAN ID of the purchaser (clerk) will receive an e-mail prompting them to fill out a form which will need to be filled out to have the rainwear ship; this will include Employee Name, LAN ID, and PCC. This form is mandatory for asset tracking purposes, failure to return the form will result in a delay in order delivery.
Raingear will be allocated based on the PCC listing below. The first 1,000 sets will be made available to PCC’s with the highest rainfall averages and should be delivered in November. The second wave of orders will be filled in January. Departments outside of EDO should place orders now so that Lac-Mac can have visibility into demand and can start their manufacturing process. We expect that orders outside of the first 2,000 will be received no sooner than February of 2013.
Use and Care of the garment is critical. We can’t emphasize this enough. This is a highly technical and expensive suit. If it is not cared for properly it will not function. Training will be required to get a suit. Each suit will be Bar-coded and linked to an employee.
Dri-Tec Sentinel or current raingear is the alternative. Dri-Tec Sentinel raingear is much cheaper <$250 and should be purchased as needed for non-Lineworkers. The suit provides FR protection and will keep you dry. It is not breathable.
The team recommends employees keep their current raingear as a backup. Supervisors may choose to keep a stock. If the current raingear is meeting needs then the purchase of new raingear is not required.
CalOSHA Standard changes
As a result of an accident that took place a couple of years ago when a SMUD employee was seriously injured when a broke pole top that was secured by pole grabbers only slipped through the grabbers and struck an employee on the ground, Cal-OSHA drafted a revised standard, with the proposed changes in bold.
Group 2. High-Voltage Electrical Safety Orders
Article 36. Work Procedures and Operating Procedures
Amend Section 2940.8 to read as follows:
§2940.8. Material Handling.
(a) Unloading. Prior to and during the unloading of poles, crossarms and similar material, the load shall be thoroughly examined to ascertain if the load has shifted, binders or stakes have broken or the load is otherwise hazardous to employees. Where a hazardous condition is noted, positive means shall be taken to eliminate the hazard. Employees shall not stand on top or in the potential path of an unsecured load while unloading poles from pole dollies or utility trailers.
(e) Attaching the Load. Hoist ropes shall not be wrapped around the load. This provision shall not apply to electric construction crews when setting or removing poles.
(f) Damaged or unstable poles, or sections of poles that present a hazard to personnel shall be securely guyed, braced or otherwise supported during pole removal operations.
NOTE: Authority cited: Section 142.3, Labor Code. Reference: Section 142.3, Labor Code.
Injury and Near Miss Report
A Backhoe Operator injured his finger while moving a concrete box into his truck. In the process of moving the equipment, the employee’s finger was lodged in between the box and the truck’s toolshed. The employee had surgery to the finger (skin) and there appears to be no damage to the bone.
Two Fatalities in our industry nearby but not to our members:
- On Sept. 20, 2012, around 11 a.m., a BPA lineman, Matt (Matthew James) Karstetter, did not survive a fall from a transmission tower near the Idaho-Montana border. He was working on a spacer replacement project out of the Bell Maintenance facility in Spokane, Wash. (No further details at this time.)
- On Sept. 25, 2012, NV Energy had an accident that resulted in a fatality. A Local 396 Journeyman Lineman, who had just topped out the previous Friday, was training on a 500kv tower when he fell approximately 100’ feet. His name is Herbie Goforth. Details of the accident will be forthcoming.
Chairman, IBEW 1245 Safety Committee