Posted: July 2, 2012
Safety summit will pull together electric, gas and tree trimmer safety initiatives
A joint Hold the Pull, Keep the Clearance and Control the Pressure committee meeting was held to make preparations for the first annual joint safety summit to be held on July 10-11 at the Local 1245 union hall. Utility safety expert Danny Raines will address the group on both days of the conference on the subjects of personal safety development, recognizing hazards and increasing safety within the workplace. Safety advisory council members will address the group on their peer group activities and interaction with their respective memberships. Safety steward roles, responsibilities and experiences will be reviewed. On day two there will be a short introduction by PG&E Safety Director Linda Limberg. Later in the day after the Danny Raines presentation groups will break out and discuss the goals and actions going into the future.
Peer To Peer Safety Campaigns
“Keep the Clearance” Group on the Road: During the months of June, July and August the Keep the Clearance Peer to Peer Committee will be attending unit meetings to bring safety messages to the tree line clearance groups and ask for safety steward volunteers. To date the committee has attended 13 unit meetings and collected 8 safety stewards from locations as far as Bakersfield, Watsonville, San Jose and Redding. Some groups are reporting pressures from employers/supervisors to work through breaks and lunch, keep production quotas and bypass safety rules. Most meetings are being conducted in both Spanish and English. After the safety presentations are completed training for safety stewards will be scheduled.
Monthly “Hold the Pull” Presentations at Livermore Training Center: Hold the Pull advisory committee member John Kent secured monthly safety talks with the pre-apprentice groups at the PG&E Livermore Training Center. So far five talks have been completed and the subjects include developing personal safety skills, dealing with crew safety dynamics and personal rights and responsibilities. Class members are encouraged to speak up about any safety subject and instructors are not present. LTC has been very cooperative and supportive of the HTP effort. Classes will be continued until the end of the year and hopefully renewed into 2013. Sessions are conducted by three HTP advisory council members with at least one being a PG&E employee at every session.
PGE F.R Clothing UPDATE
As reported last month PGE is exploring the use of a new FR Clothing vendor however as of this moment no new contract with the new vendor has been signed. On July 9th I will be attending a meeting in San Francisco along with several PGE stakeholders to have an open discussion with the FR Clothing’s selection committees on why the change and what went into the decision to change vendors.
Several questions I have if this change does take place all revolve around when the clothing will be available to the members and the process we are looking at in getting all our members sized and in the system to start receiving the clothing. Would also like to know what we plan to do in the interim if a member is in need of clothing.
More to come in the near future after the July 9th meeting.
FR Clothing Treatment Concerns
Several years ago when PGE first started their FR Clothing program we had several concerns over the treatment used in this clothing. Back then I contacted Westex the main supplier of the treated clothing throughout the industry all over the world. Recently with the latest news coverage about treatment methods for FR materials and the numerous calls and questions I have received lately on this I thought it would be a good time to repost the information below which was originally posted in 2010 and can be found on the 1245 website under articles on safety. It includes a letter from Westex vice president in sales as well as a link to the MSDS on the product from Local 1245s website.
There have been several questions asked about the chemicals used in FR clothing that gives it its FR properties. Concerns have been raised by our members about the potential for adverse reactions to the treatment as well as if this product contains Pentabrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs). I have contacted Westex the manufacture of the fabric Indura UltraSoft that is used by several manufactures of the FR clothing here and around the world. This is also the fabric that is used by Tyndale, which PG&E has chosen as the vendor to supply its employees with their FR clothing needs. As per my request I have received from Westex a Material Safety Data Sheet (posted in the Archive of Safety Articles) for this product as well as an e-mail from their Vice President in Technical Services with further explanation to the safety of their product as it pertains to our concerns.
There is no PBDE’s in this product as per the MSDS. As a side note to this as of June 1, 2006 the State of California began prohibiting the manufacture, distribution, and processing of flame retardant products containing pentabrominated diphenyl ether (pentaBDE) and octabrominated diphenyl (octaBDE). PBDEs are ubiquitous in the environment and according to the EPA exposure may pose health risks.
What this product does contain is formaldehyde but at levels way below the required recordable amounts set by OSHA. Below you will find the e-mail from WESTEX.
INDURA® Ultra Soft® fabrics are manufactured utilizing an ammonia cure system with Tetrakis (hydroxymethyl) phosphonium chloride (THPC) – urea precondensate. This THPC – urea precondensate is polymerized and chemically converted to a water-insoluble polymer of high relative molecular weight, first by exposure to ammonia, and then by an oxidation process involving hydrogen peroxide. This polymer is physically entrapped within the structure of the cotton. The technology employed in application and the inability of this polymer to be water soluble, combined with the physical entrapment of the polymer within the fiber leads to durability of the flame resistance that is guaranteed for the life of the garment.
As stated in the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for the INDURA Ultra Soft fabric, there is a minute percentage of formaldehyde present in the fabric. The levels on INDURA Ultra Soft fabrics are similar to permanent (durable) press cotton fabrics readily available in the consumer marketplace. While not required by 29 CFR 1910.1200, Westex has prepared this MSDS as a service to our customers, who are garment manufacturers. Textile manufacturers historically have reported formaldehyde levels within their fabrics regardless of the concentration. The level within the fabric is lower than the reporting threshold for 29 CFR 1910.1200; however, there are instances where formaldehyde can sensitize skin. People who have this sensitivity cannot wear permanent press slacks or shirts either.
The THPC chemistry employed in INDURA Ultra Soft is used extensively in the United States as well as around the globe for flame resistant work wear, children’s sleepwear, furniture and upholstery fabrics. This chemistry has been extensively tested for long-term health effects and has been found to be safe. Included are a few references to publicly available reports that analyze the chemistry and fabric. It is important to note that the information regarding the initial THPC chemistry is not relevant to the final product, as the chemical species is changed during processing at Westex.
In 1987, The National Toxicology Program (within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) released a report TR-296 regarding THPC. It concluded that there was no evidence of carcinogenicity.
In 2000, the International Programme on Chemical Safety (a joint project between the United Nations Environment Programme, the International Labour Organisation, and the World Health Organization) released a study on the health effects of THPC and fabric treated with THPC. It found that there was no evidence of carcinogenicity. There was also no evidence that the fabric was an irritant to human skin.
In 2000, the National Research Council (part of the National Academy of Sciences) released a report entitled Toxicological Risks of Selected Flame-Retardant Chemicals. This work was directed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to determine the long-term health effects of selected flame-retardants for use in consumer furniture fabrics. Chemicals and fabrics were tested for oral, dermal and inhalation hazards. This report concluded that our fabrics and the TPHC process is approved for use in residential furniture.
The chemistry that Westex employs for the INDURA Ultra Soft line of flame resistant fabrics has been in commercial use for four decades. Westex began production with this type of technology over 30 years ago. Within that time, Westex has grown to be the world’s largest supplier of durable flame resistant cotton and cotton blend fabrics. There are literally millions of garments in service around the globe constructed of Westex fabrics. Our products have repeatedly been shown to be safe and effective as a secondary protective fabric.
While this is probably more information than you had asked about, I wanted to be thorough about the product. Please do not hesitate to call or e-mail if you have further questions.
Josh Moody, Vice President – Technical Services, Westex, Inc.
PGE Implementation of 100% Fall Protection on Wood Poles using Fall Restricting Equipment
For the past 18 months PGE has been working on tool selection of new Wood Pole Climbing Fall Restricting Equipment (FRE). These tools will significantly increase the safety of our employees who climb wood poles by minimizing the potential distance of a fall if they cut out for any reason. The tools that have been selected are the DBI Sala Cynch-Lok and the Buckingham SuperSqueeze. 32 linemen from across our service territory have participated in months of field testing and have recommended that employees be offered the choice of one of these two tools. Additionally, a new work procedure outlining the use of these tools has been developed and will be communicated in the near future. This work procedure will be covered in the formal training.
Our intent is to train employees on both tools and allow them the opportunity to climb in these tools during a 1 day training session. At the end of the session each employee will demonstrate the ability to correctly use the tool and will be issued his/her tool of choice. All employees who climb will be required to bring their own climbing gear (gaffs, body belt, and flip line. This equipment should be in good working order having been inspected and ready for use. You will be receiving a communication from Line of Business Leaders very soon describing the full process of how the initiative will be deployed.
Please see the start and projected end dates for each of the training locations. We are using the same pole yards that were used for Rubber Glove Refresher Training thus reducing the travel time for your crews. The expectation is that everyone in a climbing classification plus their supervisor will attend this training. Only those who demonstrate the ability to use the tool properly will be issued a new tool. Supervisors will not be asked to climb.
We recognize that some employees will not be able to climb. There are employees that are identified as 1 in 10 non-climbing linemen. They will still need to attend the training and will be asked to provide verbal answers to questions about the tools. A broad education of the functionality of the tool is important.
|Location||Number of students||Total Sessions||Start Dates||Projected End Date|
Outside Construction Safety “Red Book” review
The Safety Red Book review has been completed and will be submitted to the full committee for review and comments. The next stage once approved will be to have the new books printed and distributed to the field.
Material News Flash
Who is impacted?
Electric M&C, Electric Restoration, Electric Operations
An MPR was created and the equipment was sent to ATS for dissection and failure analysis. The fault duty at the time of failure was estimated to be 12,079 amps. A detailed inspection was performed on the switch in January 2012 and no open EC notifications currently exist.
A team investigated and evaluated the use of protective equipment and operational procedures to determine if additional activities or actions are needed for workers and / or public safety. The team determined that the PPE utilized during this incident performed as expected and helped to mitigate the possibility of severe injuries to the employee. The cable splicer who performed the switching operation was located approximately 2 feet from the round switch enclosure.
On 4/3/12 a 3 man UG crew was in the process of restoring a section of UG after they had replaced a short section of cable. The crew was given an operation to close a Westinghouse 200 AMP 2-way LBOR switch (SW 2048), on the Marina 1101 circuit in San Francisco, which would energize the work area through a closed sub-surface fused switch and up to two open switches. There was no load in the section and this switch had been utilized earlier in the day to establish a clearance point for this section of line.
When the switch was closed, it catastrophically failed. The employee operating the switch received minor burns to his nose, upper lip and cheeks. The employee was transported via ambulance to SF General and remained hospitalized overnight for precautionary measures. The employee was wearing all necessary PPE for this task. The switch failure caused an outage to 393 customers. Electric Distribution Standards Engineering in combination with ATS have investigated the root cause of this failure.
The failure analysis report by ATS indicated that at time of failure the switch was low on oil and the top contacts were not submersed. It is not known how this condition was created since there was no evidence of leaking oil before or after the incident.
Interviews revealed that no excessive oil was found in the enclosure before or after the incident.
Why is this being issued?
To provide a quick notice to field personnel and raise awareness to this potential problem. Action plans for additional precautionary measures are being developed.
The following action items have been identified:
- Until such time that alternative methods for switch operation are identified, operation of all UG LBOR switches that do not have an oil level sight glass will require the operator to wear either a FR rated balaclava hood with goggles, or a FR rated face shield in addition to the current FR clothing requirements.
- Evaluate a non-test policy for protective devices to be utilized for underground facilities. – TBC by 4th Quarter 2012
- Initiate a detailed inspection program on UG switches. This program will utilize historical performance data by region to prioritize the switches for inspection. Identification of UG switches without oil sight gauges will be incorporated into this special inspection. – begin 3rd Quarter of 2012.
- Develop a prioritization criterion for a proactive switch replacement program utilizing information from our special inspection in conjunction with engineering data. - 4th Quarter of 2012.
- Begin implementing the proactive switch replacement program utilizing the prioritization criteria developed in 2012. – Implementation to begin 1st Quarter 2013
- In conjunction with the Work Methods and Procedures department, identify and/or develop switching equipment or procedures that would add additional safety measures for workers. – Implementation 3rd Quarter of 2012
- Asset Management Engineering & Work Methods & Procedure group to conduct tailboards to review current requirements for UG switching operations. – Implement July 1, 2012
Please share this with your employees and remind them that this incident may have been much worse if the established safety rules and procedures had not been followed during the switching operations. Employees need to focus on safety at all times and follow all the established safety rules and expectations. Remind all employees of the importance of following all applicable rules and procedures.
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.
- Fatality in Man-lift: On Tuesday June 19 a contract employee working for Cleveland Wrecking was killed at a Kern Power Plant in Bakersfield when the man-lift he was operating was toppled by a large section of steel tank. The employee, at a height of approximately 40 ft., was sectioning out a large fuel tank with a cutting torch when part of the tank hit the lift causing it to tip over. He was transported to Kern Medical Center where he died of his injuries. A further investigation is ongoing at this time.
- Electric Shock: It was reported that an apprentice lineman was injured by touch potential when a primary line fell onto a digger derrick that was holding a primary pole. According to the report the crew, performing a pole replacement, had spread the 12kV primary onto auxiliary arms and all phases had been covered. A secondary riser pipe had been detached from the pole to be replaced and tied off temporarily. At some point it was decided to reposition the bucket truck. During the process the pole being replaced was moved causing the riser to fall onto an exposed primary line burning the line down onto the digger derrick. The employee was walking beside the pole dolly and contact was made when he brushed against a tie wire extending from the dolly. The employee received a shocked, EMS was called and he was transported to the hospital for treatment and later released with minor injuries. It was reported that no equipment were either grounded or barricaded at the time of the accident.
- Tree Trimmer Fell From Tree: It was reported that a tree trimmer working for one of our utilities fell out of a tree and broke his pelvis, several ribs and his leg. No one observed the accident but the tree trimmer was found by crew members at the base of the tree still tied in with his fall protection.
- Gas Welding Crew Foreman Injured: On Monday June 4th at approximately 1600 a Gas Welding Crew Foreman was transported to the Hospital after falling and receiving a laceration to the forehead. The employee was transported via ambulance where he received approximately 17 stitches. The employee was evaluated, treated and released.
- Two Men Struck By Train: According to a report on June 15th one employee under contract to PG&E and a PG&E employee were struck by a train as they were traveling by car to a jobsite near Needles, California. The contract employee, working for Alisto Engineering Group, was medi-flighted to UMC Hospital in Las Vegas where he died three days later. The PG&E employee was treated and released several hours after the accident and it was unreported whether they were traveling across a controlled or uncontrolled crossing at the time of the accident.
- DC voltage contact: A Substation Electrician received minor burns while the crew was servicing a new 230 kV breaker at at Substation in Napa. The breaker was switched out. At some point, while performing a function test, the electrician got the positive and negative leads of the test gear they were using together. It caused a flash and minor explosion in the breaker cabinet. The employee suffered burn injuries to his finger (s), full details of the extent of injury and what hand are not known at this point. The breaker caught on fire and required extinguishing by the crew at the scene
- Flagger Hit by Vehicle: A contractor being used for flagging was assisting a GC crew located at Bloomfield Road and Gravenstein Highway…2 person traffic control crew with a lighted intersection was involved. When the job was de-energized, the lights went on flash, when the battery backup went out and the lights stopped flashing, the traffic controllers brought out stop paddles. At approximately 1800, an employee was on the shoulder of the road directing traffic. She acknowledged making eye contact with the driver of a silver car coming towards her. She glanced over to her partner to see where he was at and that was when she was struck by the silver Cadillac. The crew heard the tires screeching in time to look over and see the employee struck with enough force to send her cart wheeling into the air and landing on the ground. The crew foreman started 911. The crew stopped the job and took over traffic control so others could attend to the injured employee…there was an off duty nurse commuting home still in scrubs that stopped and provided aid. The employee never lost consciousness and was released from the hospital later that night on crutches. No detail of injuries provided.
- 480 volt arc flash: A Turlock Irrigation District journeyman lineman was involved in a 480 volt arc flash while working on a meter socket on June 27, 2012. He was transported to Emmanuel Medical Center and treated for 2nd degree burns to his hands and face and was released to go home. An accident investigation is being conducted jointly by the TID and the IBEW safety committee.
There were a couple of near-misses in recent weeks. Please see them on the near-miss page.
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 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.
- Energized Transmission Grounding Incident: It was reported to committee that a crew mistakenly applied personal protective grounds to an energized 69kV transmission line. According to the report the crew had tested the line de-energized with a Hastings voltage tester and applied the grounds causing the 69kV relay. No injuries were reported and the incident has been investigated and the supervisor involved. The crew claimed that the voltage tester failed to “tone” that the line was energized causing them to mistakenly conclude that the line was de-energized.
- Primary Splice Failure: Contract crew was energizing a new run of primary cable in a man hole. When the foreman put the switch in the closed position to take rotation at the 3 pot bank he noticed he had no voltage. He then returned to the switch and noticed it was not closed all the way. He the reclosed the switch at this time it caused a fire in the man hole at the cable. After reviewing the man hole we discovered a failed primary splice. Upon further review the cable was 25kv to 15kv where the straight splice failed. The splice used was a 25 kv straight splice. This is the incorrect splice for this cable and caused a .09’’ difference on the 15kv side of the cable causing a path to ground and the cable to slow burn itself in the clear and not a complete fault. Upon review of the other work locations adjacent to this manhole three additional splices of the same nature where located and replaced.
1245 June Safety Committee Report
Health and Safety Committee Report
The Health and Safety Committee met on June 21. Arrangements are in the works for members to attend the IBEW Safety Caucus to be held in Orlando Florida October 17-21. It is not known yet how many committee members will attend but they are advised to let Ralph Armstrong know as soon as possible.
In addition to several of the above items that were discussed during this meeting the below were general discussions that took place as well.
Cable Injection Discussion
The committee discussed the proper process for replacing cable elbows after cable injection has been performed. In years past PG&E had experienced failures on their UG cables when injection elbows were not changed after the injection process was completed. Currently MID is performing cable injection but not requiring that replacement elbows be installed as a final part of the remediation process. It was suggested by a PG&E committee member that it be stipulated in the contract so not to put employees at risk by working around or switching using injection elbows which are susceptible to moisture and corrosion over time.
Front Line Supervisor Discussion
Committee members discussed the growing industry trend that front line supervisors do not come from the trade ranks as in the past. It seems to be more common that supervisors do not know the work and frequently there are communication and expectation problems as a result. The committee expressed a concern that as the trend continues and more senior field employees leave the industry those less experienced will be supervised by those who do not have a clear understanding of the work. For that reason front line supervisors should be required to train with field employees. The committee thinks that this problem will become more severe as a safety issue if employees are not diligent by knowing and following the safety rules and communicating that to their managers.
Ralph Armstrong, chairman
IBEW Local 1245 Safety Committee