Posted: June 14, 2012
Peer-to-Peer safety groups gain momentum
Round-up of safety news
All three Peer-to-Peer campaigns are currently active in different stages. The “Hold the Pull” committee (Lineman) has been performing presentations at the JATC facility for new apprentices. The “Control the Pressure” committee (Gas) is completing field presentations. The “Keep the Clearance” committee (Trees) is working on program development.
All three of these committees were at Weakley Hall in Vacaville on June 5. They met separately at first to deal with and address specific items in their programs, then met as one large committee tasked to put together the agenda for a two-day Safety Summit scheduled for July 10-11 at Weakley Hall. All of these committees have worked hard to get to where they are and we expect to see a lot of good work in their on-going effort to eliminate accidents on the job.
PG&E FR clothing changes and the selection of a new clothing vendor
Due to several issues with PG&E’s old FR clothing vendor, Tyndale, the company’s FR clothing selection committee has chosen to seek another vendor.
The company has fielded several complaints from its employees over the past 3 years, such as quality control issues, delivery delays and excessive shrinkage, especially with the clothing made with the Westex fabric. It was reported that even though these issues have been brought to Tyndale’s attention and changes were said to be made it appears the problems and complaints continued. It appears that by and large this change is welcomed by the end users.
PG&E has a vendor in mind. The last I heard a final contact has not been signed yet, but it is very likely that Riverside will be the new provider of clothing. PG&E’s FR Clothing Selection Committee has done its homework and is looking at ways to make this program better for the end user without the problems that were experienced in the past.
Hopefully we will find out soon when the allotments will be made available as well as the processes used to obtain the garments.
PGE 24/7 Nurse Report Line for Work Related Incidents
PG&E is doing away with pink slips and has moved to a new system for reporting on-the-job injuries. Details of this new system are outlined in this 24/7 Nurse Report Line Meeting in a Box (at right).
Changing the Safety Conversation
Please follow this link to a Safety Message from Chris Johns and Des Bell that was sent May 24 to all PG&E extended leadership on Changing the Safety Conversation.
It appears that the company and the union have had different takes on how specific OSHA standards are interpreted and are/were being applied by PG&E. Some of these issues, if they can’t get resolved through a joint effort, may require OSHA’s involvement for resolution. These issues listed below (QP’s and LOTO) are what we are talking about with a brief explanation to the issue and discrepancy.
- During the May Joint Safety and Health Committee meeting with the IBEW and PG&E at least one of these issues we feel has been resolved. The QP issue with the Telecomm workers (Summarized Below) working within the MAD or proximity of primary voltage has been directed to cease. This work started in an effort to address the smart meter collectors, but never went through a technical review or a work method and procedure review by the electric department. The IBEW has a verbal commitment from this meeting that these reviews will take place for any work performed on an electric power pole.
- Lock out Tag out (LOTO) stills seems to be a hot issue and the concerns are also addressed below. Just last month there were 2 incidents that took place at a power plant that we feel would not have happened if an effective energy control program was in place. One issue was a near miss. In the other, the worker received a shock.
Over the course of the last couple of months we have been working to resolve a couple of discrepancies pertaining to the use of the term Qualified Persons (QP) and their application to work in the field.
The first issue involves the use of the telecomm group to service the smart meter collector units mounted on various structures, apparatuses and underground facilities throughout the system. It was reported at the PG&E / IBEW Joint Health and Safety committee, which met in Vacaville on March 12, that PG&E Safety Department contacted CalOSHA for clarification to the applicability of the telecomm standard and the HVESO when a telecomm worker performs work within the MAD of lines and equipment energized in excess of 600 volts.
As we wait for this clarification the union has expressed its concerns over allowing this work to continue and the company had sent out a notification to cease the work in question until we get a ruling from OSHA. We have heard some rumors that this work has continued and we are looking into it in an effort to get it stopped.
Our position is that in cases where work that requires a worker to be in proximity to lines and equipment energized at 600v or more, all the requirements in the HVESO should be followed, such as but not limited to, a second person observer and first aid CPR requirement, just to name a couple. What supports our position is a recent accident that took place on January 25 when a telecom worker received an electric shock while working on a SCADA mate control box.
Lock Out Tag Out
There are some discrepancies over the way a Tag Out only policy is being implemented. By OSHA standards the use of a TAG only policy requires an additional open point or protective measure be in place between the source of the hazardous energy and the worker should the tag be compromised. This second level of protection is not being provided in some areas and we are working to get compliance on these issues.
EH Boots Procedures
PG&E is rolling out a new Electric Hazard (EH) Boot Bulletin. This Bulletin will give employees an opportunity to purchase approved EH boots as an alternative option to wearing the company-issued overshoes on jobs that require them. This Bulletin is Utility Bulletin: TD 1999B-002, dated 4/3/12: Salisbury Overshoe – Pre-use inspection Protocol. (See details in box at right, “Salisbury Overshoe”).
There have been concerns raised over a couple of issues pertaining to hazardous communications, specifically the make-up of certain products such as a carbon compound used for treating soil around anodes for cathodic protection, gaskets used on old gas meters and flanges and a pipe wrapping used on gas pipes. Some of these products have silica’s warning or known asbestos. It appears that there may be some breakdown in getting this information to the field since several people when asked claimed they were unaware of this as well as how to protect themselves from this hazard.
PG&E is working to verify if there is a communication breakdown as well as re-issuing communications on how to deal with the potential hazards. The corrosion group is working to establish a plan to address the carbon issue that was brought up through the Company/Union Safety Committee meeting. They will put together a tailboard which will accompany the current work procedures. A draft will be completed by the end of April and then will be communicated to the field once finalized.
Safety Health and Claims will have a meeting with the meter facility manager to address the gasket issue. There are procedures in place and we will assure we follow them. It was verified that there is no one grinding gaskets off at this location as reported and the company will make sure procedures and training questions are taken care of.
For the field, the company is in the process of working on an update WP4711 and associated documents looking to address both asbestos gaskets and the issues associated with pipe wrap. Once completed, this information will be communicated to the field. When finalized, these revisions should resolve these issues.
Outside Construction Safety “Red Book” review
A review and revision to the Outside Line Construction safety Red Book is under way. A thorough review of the book’s contents and applicability to the current OSHA standards is being done to make sure it is in compliance with those standards. The Red Book Review Committee is made up of 3 members from the IBEW and 3 Members from the National Electrical Contractors Association. The review should be completed on or around June 19 and sent for approval to the full safety committee at which time upon approval will be sent to print and distributed to the field.
Promoting work to be performed energized
PG&E has made a push to try to perform as much work energized as possible, not only internally but with the contractors as well. It is a concern to a lot of members as well as to the safety committee to have members perform work hot that they would have normally done de-energized in the past.
In any event no worker should perform any task that they feel is unsafe and this push to do things energized should not cloud our judgment when it comes to an unsafe condition in an effort just get the job done. The necessary steps should be taken as required by the company for both PGE employees as well as contractors when notifying the company of the unsafe condition.
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:
This is our best resource to share the information with the rest of the membership. We are continuing to see an increase in the number of these forms being turned in and want to thank everyone who is doing this.
- Around 12:30 A.M. on May 26, 2012 a lineman working in the Stockton Area sustained serious injuries when a steel streamline power pole fell over striking the boom and pinning him in the bucket he was working from. The employee was transported to a local hospital where he spent a couple of days due to the injuries he received. The employee is home now but in a lot of pain. An investigation into this accident is being performed with the findings hopefully out soon but all indications are that the bolts on the base of the tower were removed by someone and probably stolen. The crew was in the process of installing grounds and when the last one was installed it appears that the weight was just enough to bring the pole over where it pinned the lineman in the bucket he was working from.
- On May 22, 2012 a Power Plant employee received an electric shock to his finger while working in the plant. The employee was taken to the medical facility for observation. There are not many details on this incident at the time; however, it is currently under investigation. We will pass along any more information, including any corrective actions, when it becomes available.
The Safety Committee encourages everyone to report all near misses to the committee through our IBEW 1245 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. Please see this recently-posted near-miss.
- On May 4, 2012 a 480 volt circuit was inadvertently energized briefly while a crew was on the other end of the circuit at a power plant. The crew recognized the circuit as energized when a piece of equipment began working for approximately 90 seconds. This circuit was under a clearance and the breaker that was believed to become energized was Tagged out (No Lock) as per plant procedures. There were no injuries since the crew recognized that the equipment that stated up was under clearance and stopped working. An investigation into the cause of this incident has taken place and report pending.
Ralph Armstrong, chairman
IBEW Local 1245 Safety Committee