Posted: March 5, 2013
Safety Report: Steward Summit and other News
Safety Steward Summit May 1 and 2
The Hold the Pull, Control the Pressure and Keep the Clearance peer to peer committees are in the process of planning the annual safety summit. In 2012, 34 safety stewards have been added to the safety initiative, most from the Keep the Clearance tree group. The title of this year’s summit is: “Communication: The Key to a Safer Workplace.”
In keeping with this title the primary goal is to fine tune the communications network of the peer initiative between the peer committees and safety stewards. This year’s two-day training event will include speakers and workshops that will focus on developing communications skills and personal interaction within the peer initiative.
The peer committees are requesting that any staff with safety steward recommendations submit as soon as possible before the April 15 cutoff date to have their stewards trained at the safety summit. Letters announcing the summit will be sent to all safety stewards by mid-March with RSVP cards due no later than April 15.
Control the Pressure Visiting PG&E Utility Worker Academy
Many thanks to Joe Osterlund for arranging Control the Pressure visits at the PG&E utility worker academy. CTP committee members have secured 11 dates at the academy in Tracy.
Each academy class at the conclusion of their training will be visited by the business representative and two members of the CTP committee who give the introductory presentation for the peer initiative. Most of the academy trainees have worked few days on the job so the visit is an opportunity to learn about the union and the peer initiative. Since these trainees will be sent throughout the PG&E system, any business representatives who represent gas employees are invited to attend the presentation and Q and A session afterward. Contact Rich Lane for schedule dates.
Hold the Pull Livermore Training Center Visits Reduced
The Hold the Pull presentations at the PG&E Livermore Training Center have been reduced to six visits this year. According to the training center scheduler PG&E will conduct three apprentice and three pre-apprentice classes this year instead of the twelve conducted in 2012. To date the three apprentice classes have been scheduled but the pre-apprentice classes have yet to be scheduled.
Health and Safety Committee Report
New H&S Committee Member Installed
The Local 1245 Health and Safety Committee met on Feb. 21 at the Vacaville hall. Juan Cervantes, tree crew foreman with Tree’s Inc. in Stockton, was installed as a member of the committee to represent line clearance tree trimmers. Juan is a current member of the Keep the Clearance safety initiative advisory committee and a unit chairman.
Lead Based Paint Hazard Reported at TID
During the 1960s and 70s the Turlock Irrigation District bought untreated cross arms and painted them with a yellow lead-based preservative paint. In February, TID warehouse personnel who break down all cross arms that are returned by line personnel requested that the company test the paint residue for lead content. Initial tests concluded that there was enough lead residue to prompt the company to hire an industrial hygienist to conduct training of warehouse and line personnel on hazard exposure mitigation.
Included in the action was that warehouse personnel would also wear exposure patches designed to collect any airborne particles and the patches would be tested for exposure levels based on a time weighted average. TID health and safety manager Rich Eastman indicated that once tests have been concluded he will inform the union of the results.
SMUD Safety News
SMUD FR clothing allotment was discussed. The monetary allotment for FR clothing is $1500 per year per employee along with a $300 boot allowance. Clothing is laundered by the employee as well as repairs.
An incident involving the failure of a remote racking device has led SMUD to research the purchase of other devices. After the research by the research committee is concluded SMUD will buy new remote racking devices for their metal clad switch gear.
Frontier Communications has built two sound walls to reduce noise levels in their switch room. Noise levels were tested to be at the 85db threshold allowable for an 8-hour time-weighted average per shift. The first wall was reported to reduce the sound level by 30db and a second wall dropped the level to under 60db. Employees report sound levels to be much more satisfactory.
Frontier has instituted measures for higher security in their buildings when it was found that some ex-employees still were able to access secure areas. The company has also taken steps to train employees in an emergency action plan related to building evacuations in the event of natural disasters, fire or personal threats.
Tree Trimmer Terminated for Burning Down Primary Line
A Davey tree trimmer out of the Redding yard was terminated after he was reported to have burned down the field phase of a PG&E 12kV primary line.
According to the report, the employee, who was part of a two man crew, contacted a single 7.2kV phase and CATV line simultaneously with the un-insulated portion of an aerial lift. The three phase line was protected by a set of fused cut-outs. The cutout fuse associated with the downed line did not open and a primary back feed condition existed for some time until the troubleshooter could open the line. No injuries were reported and the crew foreman witnessed the incident. The line did not fall onto the truck.
The employee was reported to have two years’ experience as a tree trimmer and claimed that the accident was related to the aerial lift controls were opposite of the controls of the lift that he was used to operating. The termination is being reviewed by Business Representative Carl Lamers.
First Responder Training Program
Three training programs in the Madera and Mariposa Mountain Division areas involving 62 Cal Fire firefighters have been conducted since the first of the year. Instructor Rich Lane has been attending steward training conferences to inform stewards of both the First Responder and Peer initiatives. Response to the informational presentation has produced an invite to the Santa Rosa RMC safety kick-off on March 22 for PG&E employees who may be called upon to secure areas during storm damage or other events where emergency responders are overwhelmed.
Forms and guidelines are on the website. Units should use them as part of their unit meeting and submit them to this committee whether or not there are accidents or concerns. This should be a standard reporting practice at every unit meeting every month. All accidents reported this month on the green form as well as accidents reported at the safety committee meeting are listed below.
- Transformer Contact Injury
- Employee was not wearing his appropriate PPE, hard hat, safety glasses or gloves of any kind.
- Employee was using an unapproved, un-insulated tool to perform cleaning within the transformer.
- Employee exceeded the scope of the inspection.
- The employee was fully qualified to perform this work.
- The self tailboard was inadequate for site specific conditions
- The employee exposed the public to electrical hazards when he allowed 2 landscapers inside the arc flash boundaries to show them the internals of the transformer.
- Wire Down Contact
- Rayshawn Neely
- Fall from Ladder
A company-wide conference call will be conducted on Feb. 27 regarding an incident that took place when an inspector made contact with a live front transformer bushing and the transformer case.
What was contained in the final communications of this incident were:
On October 17, 2012 at approximately 12:33 an inspector with 40 years with the company was performing a routine inspection of a pad mounted live front transformer. During the process of cleaning cob webs in the rear of the transformer with an un-insulated cleaning tool an arc occurred between the tool’s metal handle and the employee’s belt buckle, which ignited his undergarments and exited to ground at two locations at the back of the employee’s fire resistant (FR) pants to the open door of the transformer’s primary compartment behind him.
The employee was immediately found on scene approximately 10 feet away from the transformer with his clothes burnt and smoking in several places. The employee was escorted under his own power by emergency personnel to a hospital located adjacent to the scene. The employee was later transferred to a burn center for further treatment.
There were several key findings as a result of this incident with a couple to note:
On January 23 an outside line contractor had a 5th step apprentice lineman, Luis (David) Ochoa, a Local 1245 member, received an electric shock when #4 copper energized primary wire broke mid span while it was being moved. There is an investigation on-going about what took place but what is known is the wire landed on a boom truck which was holding the old pole. The apprentice had just reached into the bin of the line truck when the wire landed on the truck. David was not breathing when the crew got to him. The crew acted like professionals in not only getting to David but performing CPR and stabilizing him until the emergency medical personnel arrived. He was awake and conscious when they got there and for the trip to the hospital. The cardiologist was there the next morning and gave him a clean bill of health. He has 1 small burn on each knee and 3 small burns on his back, none of which will require skin grafts. Early reports are the crew had to pull him out from under the truck after the accident. It is also likely he had just reached into the bin of the truck to retrieve a bolt, stepped back away from the truck and was looking up at the crew moving the wire when it broke. In the instant confusion David dove under the truck which not only explains the abrasions but the burns on the knees and back. Again these are real early reports and a full investigation is under way.
On Feb. 1, 2013 at approximately 14:03 a PG&E electric General Construction crew was involved in an incident with a third party vehicle on the North East corner of North Marks Avenue and West McKinley Avenue in Fresno. A third party vehicle struck two PG&E employees, pinning one (crew foreman) between the vehicle and the right rear corner of the bucket truck. A lineman, also in the vicinity of the rear of the truck, was struck by the vehicle and thrown over the rear passenger side outrigger. In addition, a third employee injured his ankle while taking action to avoid the vehicle. Rayshawn has undergone surgery to insert a metal pin in his leg in order to repair a broken shin bone and sustained four broken bones in his foot on the same leg. He is currently home recovering. According to a Fresno County Sheriff’s Deputy who responded to this incident, this case is currently being investigated as “a willful act with malicious intent by the third party driver.” The driver of the third party vehicle is currently in police custody as local law enforcement and California Highway Patrol conduct their investigations. A PG&E investigation being led by Electric Field Safety is also underway and will continue in parallel with law enforcement’s efforts.
At approximately 12:55 pm on Monday, Feb. 4, a Gas Service Representative was transported to the hospital after sustaining an 8-foot fall at a commercial customer facility. The employee was performing work alone on a ceiling furnace unit and was injured while attempting to descend on the ladder. The employee was released later that evening after sustaining several broken ribs as a result of the fall
The Safety Committee is encouraging everyone to report all near misses to the committee through our IBEW1245 Safety Matters web page. Anyone with a near miss should sanitize the report to omit names and companies as the intent of reporting a near miss is to provide others with information about potential hazards that members find in the field in order to provide awareness to others of those hazards.
Hot Elbow Grounded on Pad Mounted Switch
The H&S committee discussed an incident in which an electric crew foreman grounded a hot 200 amp elbow while conducting switching. Capacitive test points were tested at both locations of the feed and indicated a non-energized condition. Mapping that was used in the switching was found later to be inaccurate, leading the crew to think that they were working the right circuit. The problem was further increased when the test points inaccurately indicated a dead circuit that was in fact live. The elbow blew up when grounded but there were no injuries reported but the pad-mounted switch was damaged.
EH Boot Program (PGE)
The Company and Union have met to discuss the footwear requirement for Electric T&D, Electric Maintenance and General Construction Line Department line of progression field employees exposed to electrical hazards and foot crushing potential. The company has identified four categories of which Electric T&D, Electric Maintenance and General Construction Line Department line of progression field employees would be covered by the Electrical Hazard Boot Program; they are 1. Full-time climbers, 2. Full-time non-climbers, 3. Part-time non-climbers and 4. Intermittent users. A list of classifications for each category receiving boots is attached.
In accordance with Title 400, the following will apply to the Electric T&D, Electric Maintenance and General Construction Line Department line of progression field employees covered by the Electrical Hazard Boot Program:
- It is a requirement for all applicable classifications to have available and wear the “EH” rated footwear when performing work. The regular on-going use of the dielectric overshoes is no longer an acceptable practice, other than for intermittent non-climber’s and hiring hall employees. Exceptions may be granted in extreme or unusual situations by management approval.
- Employees are required to utilize the Company provided vendor to make their selection for their required footwear.
- For the initial purchase of the required footwear the following shall apply: Classifications included in the full-time climber’s category will receive one pair of climbing and one pair of ground boots. Classifications included in the full-time and part-time non-climber’s category will receive one pair of ground boots. Classifications included in the intermittent non-climber’s category will continue to utilize dielectric overshoes when needed.
- The determination and criteria for wear/damage replacement will be at management’s discretion.
- Boots should be inspected by the employee (and by management at their discretion) before use. If any deficiencies are discovered that would compromise the dielectric rating, the boots must be removed from service. Boots may not be rebuilt or resoled, and it is the responsibility of each employee to ensure all boots are in proper working condition. Once the boots have been received, boots not purchased under this program are no longer considered acceptable footwear under the Electrical Hazard Boot Program.
- Employees who are utilized from the hiring hall will utilize at a minimum the dielectric overshoes when needed, however, they will not receive Company purchased boots or a boot allowance.
- Either the Company or the Union may cancel this agreement by providing 60 day advanced written notice of cancellation.