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SET Solutions

Who says Safety Training can't be fun and interesting?


Who says Safety Training can’t be fun and interesting? Check out these comments from SET Solutions’s latest Electric Power Comprehensive Safety Compliance Course:

  • “Really enjoyed the class and how the discussions between all the students and presenters went so well.” - Raymond
  • “Very well organized. Very good week!” - Phil
  • “I was expecting the class to be long and boring coming in. It was total opposite. I would recommend this course.” - David
  • “Great class! Good jump start to understanding OSHA utility specific info” - Crystal
  • “I feel like I can find things I need in OSHA 1910.269 and have a better understanding of what it means.” - Drayton
  • “It was a very enjoyable and informative class. The instructors did a great job getting and keeping everyone involved.” - Matthew

If you missed out, be sure to register for our next course in September:

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SET Solutions

30 Hour OSHA Course for Electric Utilities



Check out what the participants at SET Solutions’s latest 30 Hour OSHA Course for Electric Utilities had to say about the program:






  • “Instructors were knowledgeable and related material to our company” – Jeff

  • “Interesting and very interactive” – Scott

  • “Great instructors” – Steve

  • “Lots of valuable information” – Shane

  • “A really great program” – Chadley

  • “Class was well presented” – Mike



For more information on SET Solutions’s training opportunities for your company, check out the website at: or give us a call at 803-407-4707.



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SET Solutions

Employee Training - How hard can it be?, Part II


By: Pam Tompkins, CSP, CUSP, CUSA

Last month, employee training and the importance of developing a well planned training process were discussed. This month, several additional factors as they relate to employee training will be reviewed.

Qualification Requirements

“Qualified” employees have specific training requirements defined by OSHA and NESC (National Electric Safety Code). A “qualified” employee is “one who is knowledgeable in the construction and operation of the electric power generation, transmission, and distribution equipment involved, along with the associated hazards”.

Training for “qualified” employees must establish employee proficiency in OSHA (safety standards) and utility specific work practices. This means employees must demonstrate proficiency and safety in performing all required tasks. OSHA and NESC list major requirements for “qualified” employees in the standards which are fairly straightforward and easy to understand.  More difficult is the requirement to identify all associated hazards with each job function and to ensure qualification for the specific work performed.  For example, a major storm hits and a URD journeyman is assigned to an overhead crew. Although the journeyman has demonstrated proficiency for safely completing URD tasks, the tasks were not specific for the type of work required in overhead operations. To ensure proficiency and appropriate qualification, the journeyman must demonstrate the ability to safely work on overhead equipment and lines.

OSHA considers tasks that are performed less than once per year to necessitate retraining before the work can be performed. OSHA further requires the employer to determine, through regular supervision and inspections conducted on at least an annual basis, that each employee is complying with all safety-related work practices.

Training Organizations

Many utilities use external training organizations for various jobs. Although external training organizations offer great educational opportunities, they should not be used as the certifying authority. OSHA is very clear that qualification does not specifically correlate to school completion. The employer is responsible for ensuring employees are trained and qualified to work on the specific lines and equipment owned by the utility.

Years ago, I worked for an electric utility who participated in a state sponsored line worker school. Employees attended four (4) week long courses, which were offered over several years to achieve journeyman status. Several major issues became extremely evident. First, some employees finished training early depending on when the employee was hired and the scheduling of classes.  Second, training was structured for a wide variety of duties, not always specific enough, since multiple utilities utilized the training. Third, employees who had been on the job for years were complaining other employees were moving to journeyman status too fast to learn the proper skills and did not always feel an employee was “qualified” to perform the work, especially in outage restoration situations. This type of training had no organized method of promotion to journeyman other than school completion and time in grade. We learned that employees who completed the schools had vast differences in knowledge and skill level although they ended up in the same job classification.

Management addressed these issues by developing an organized training plan which addressed academics, external training and on-the-job training requirements. Written and practical reviews were attached to the training process and a training team was developed to ensure identification of hazards and proven proficiency of employees before various levels of qualification were achieved. This program made a profound difference at the utility because all employees understood the requirements for each level of qualification, supervisors had qualified workers, employees were being paid for the job they were doing, and on and on…….


A well developed training plan is extremely important for every job classification. Without a plan, training becomes fragmented and many times left to chance. Keep in mind the plan should ensure employees have a well orchestrated method of development and an understanding of all specific requirements. Finally, the time taken to ensure training is developed and completed appropriately will equate to a well trained, safe employee! “Everyone cannot cross the finish line at the exact same time but everyone should be able to cross the finish line at some time if given the necessary plan and resources (Russ Dantzler, 2011).


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SET Solutions

Employee Training For Nonelectrical Workers - Question and Answer


Which of the following is true in respect to the training required for employees whose work is nonelectrical in nature, but directly associated with a covered installation area as defined by OSHA 29 CFR1910.269 and 29 CFR Part 1926, Subpart V:




  1. The employee must know what is safe to touch and what is not safe to touch in the specific area where they will be working
  2. The employee must know what the maximum voltage of the area is
  3. The employee must know the MADs (minimum approach distances) for the maximum voltage within the area, and the skills/techniques necessary to maintain those distances
  4. The employee must be trained in the recognition and proper use of protective equipment that will be used to provide protection for them
  5. The employee must be trained in the work practices necessary for performing their specific work tasks within the area
  6. The employee must be trained to recognize the electrical hazards to which they may be exposed, as well as the skills and techniques necessary to control or avoid these hazards
  7. All of the above

The answer is g. All of the above.

Although the training required for qualified nonelectrical workers is not as comprehensive as the training normally required for qualified electrical workers, they are still required to have minimum training including all of the topics discussed above.

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SET Solutions

Employee Training- How hard can it be?


By: Pam Tompkins, CSP, CUSP, CUSA


Mark Twain said "There is nothing that training cannot do. Nothing is above its reach or below it. It can turn bad morals to good, good morals to bad; it can destroy principles, it can recreate them; it can debase angels to men and lift men to angels".  We all know high-quality training must take place to ensure the overall development of employees.

Does having well trained employees mean the employee only attends a safety meeting monthly to gain training knowledge? Certainly not! Training should provide employees with a continual understanding of job task requirements, the hazards associated with the tasks and the appropriate abatement strategies for their safety. A monthly safety meeting may help validate these issues but it cannot be the sole delivery method for training. Unfortunately, many employees may never receive any additional formal training other than safety meetings.

Having the knowledge that training is important and required may not always ensure it takes place due to time constraints and a lack of funds and resources. Many utilities and utility contractors hire employees, then leave any training to time on the job and knowledge learned from existing employees who may use improper or unsafe work procedures. When no specific plan is developed for training, employees may never reach their full potential.

Developing a Plan

Developing a well planned training process is not easy. Each training plan should address the desired length of training, the number of training steps with compensation ranges and the requirements for employee completion and advancement. Ask the question- What knowledge is required to ensure full competency at the end of training? Academics, skills training, on the job training and demonstrated proficiency should all be addressed in the training plan. Plans must have full management and employee support to ensure success.

In many cases, a developed plan will change the structure of a job classification. This is especially true for jobs that only have one designation and salary range. Ensuring appropriate compensation for job knowledge and experience is a very important part of plan development.

Jobs such as customer service representatives, line designers and system operators (dispatchers) need a developed plan no less than an employee who works on energized lines and equipment. Although these employees do not necessarily perform work on or near live energized parts, their jobs directly impact other employees as well as the public. Customer Service Representatives need to understand electric system fundamentals to determine customer requirements; the line designer needs to understand how to design a system that is functional and safe for construction and maintenance; and a system operator needs to understand how to operate the system to ensure safety and reliability. 

In the next article, we will discuss qualification requirements and training organizations as additional factors in employee training.





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SET Solutions

Safety Improvement Audits, Part II


By: Pam Tompkins, CSP, CUSP, CUSA

In the previous Safety Improvement Audits article, a traditional Safety Compliance Audit was discussed, including its lack of focus on creating effective safety management systems. This article will continue to discuss the Comprehensive Safety Improvement Audit and some of the tools that can be used to better understand how to improve the safety process.

Comprehensive Improvement Audit

A comprehensive improvement audit will identify gaps within the entire safety process so an effective plan can be developed for future improvement. A comprehensive improvement audit identifies gaps between an organization’s existing state of safety and its desired state, simply stated: existing versus desired. The desired state is typically determined by regulatory and industry best practices related to safety management systems, training systems and written rules and procedures.

Audits are typically completed through a series of employee interviews, field observations and document reviews designed to uncover weaknesses within work processes that allow unsafe conditions and contribute to worker errors. Many audits include a safety perception survey and a common cause analysis. These tools can be used to identify specific safety culture issues or areas of vulnerability. Also, these tools can be used prior to an audit to identify specific focus areas that may need more attention during the auditing process. Let’s take a look at both of these tools in more depth.

Safety Perception Survey

In a previous article, we discussed the importance of using safety perception surveys to gain a true picture of worker’s perception of the safety process. Surveys are used to gather feedback from workers so management can gain a clearer understanding of actual working conditions and worker perceptions and opinions. Understanding how workers perceive safety can help identify specific focus areas to address during the improvement audit. A more in-depth discussion on safety perception surveys was featured in the December 2015 issue of Incident Prevention magazine.

Common Cause Analysis

A common cause analysis is used to identify if a single deficiency has caused multiple incidents. Stated another way, do multiple incidents have a common cause? A common cause analysis includes reviewing existing data to determine areas of focused improvement that would yield the greatest sustainable positive results. This process involves reviewing all available data on recent events, close calls, and survey results.   When analyzed as a whole, this type of data can be very accurate in pointing to those areas of greatest vulnerability.

For example, a performance assessment was conducted at a fossil power plant because they were experiencing a high number of incidents. Review of the event reports identified there were a high number of incidents of dropped loads from forklifts. To identify why there were so many dropped loads, interviews were conducted with people involved in the events and training records were reviewed. Talking to people is a critical part of this assessment. Interviews and document review revealed that all forklift operators had been trained, but that training did not include handling unwieldy or oddly shaped loads. Without the analysis, actions for improvement may very well have been to re-train all the fork lift operators with the same training they had already completed. After the analysis, the need to train forklift operators on handling unwieldy loads became self-evident. A common cause analysis is a critical element of safety improvement efforts.

In a future article, a better understanding of safety improvement audits will be discussed by reviewing some typical audit components beyond the use of safety perception surveys and common cause analysis.

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SET Solutions

Safety Improvement Audits

Safety Improvement Audits

By: Pam Tompkins, CSP, CUSP, CUSA

Audit?  Just the thought of participating in an audit brings frightening thoughts.  Think of an IRS audit, it can’t mean good news, right?  So why would an organization want to spend time, money and resources to audit when it could be painful?  To answer this question, organizations must develop a deeper understanding of using audits as an improvement tool rather than a way to monitor compliance.  A few questions to ask before embarking on a comprehensive safety improvement audit might include the following:

  • Is your organization prepared to view safety as an overall safety management process instead of a compliance goal?
  • Will your organization be prepared to see the “big picture” and develop strategic plans for future sustainability?

To better understand the importance of auditing for improvement, let’s review a traditional compliance audit.  A compliance audit identified a distribution underground crew not using insulating cover-up while working inside a single phase underground transformer.  The apparent cause of the violation was “failure to use appropriate insulating cover-up”, so management reviewed the violation and mandated the crew to follow the rules in the future.  Will the apparent cause of this violation be fixed in the future through talk and discipline?  Although rule compliance is extremely important, audits that focus solely on compliance may not identify major gaps that contribute to an ineffective safety system.  What happens if you don’t have the right people in place to support safety?  For example, workers may not have been properly trained and frontline leaders don’t know or understand how to apply the rules at a jobsite.  In the example above, the crew may not understand how to use insulating cover-up on underground applications, as they have only been trained for application of cover-up on overhead lines.

Compliance audits may really miss the mark because many times they are focused on the  workers who are not working safely rather than the system not working effectively.  Safety system deficiencies must be determined to better understand how to improve the safety process.  Successful improvement involves analyzing the complete safety process, not just what appears on the surface - the apparent cause. 

In future articles, we will explore comprehensive safety improvement audits in more detail, and discuss some of the tools which can be used to accomplish this important task.

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SET Solutions

Understanding Safety Culture Through Perception Surveys

Understanding Safety Culture Through Perception Surveys

If you asked workers at your company who is responsible for their safety, how do you think they would answer that question? Would they say the safety director is responsible, or would they tell you they’re personally responsible for their own safety? You might be surprised by the answers you receive. While the reality is that we are all responsible for our own safety, some employees may perceive that the safety director bears that responsibility.

What if you asked them about your safety program in general? Do employees think it’s strong or weak? Again, you may receive answers that widely vary. For example, management may perceive the company’s safety program to be among the best in the industry because very few accidents have occurred. On the other hand, field employees may feel like no one cares about them or their safety.

In a nutshell, an employee’s perceptions often dictate his or her attitude toward on-the-job safety. And if perceptions about safety in your organization differ greatly from employee to employee, this can indicate that your company’s safety culture isn’t as strong as it needs to be.

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Pam Tompkins

Understanding OSHA Electric Power Training Requirements

Understanding OSHA Electric Power Training Requirements

Are your employees performing work on or near electric power generation, transmission or distribution facilities? If so, whether they are performing electrical or nonelectrical work, electrical training is required. The training provided must ensure employees can identify electrical hazards and employ safe work methods to remove or control the hazards for their safety.

Covered Work
To simplify the application of OSHA 29 CFR 1910.269 and 1926 Subpart V, many companies use the term “covered work,” which includes work areas with electrical system hazards. For example, the construction of a power plant is the same as general building construction until the plant begins startup and commissioning. Once electrical systems are started, the job tasks become covered work due to the additional electrical system hazards.

Another example is the construction of a substation. Substation construction is similar to general building construction until the substation becomes energized or is being built in an area with transmission lines. Consider the difference between a substation built in an open field with no transmission lines and a substation built under transmission lines. Although each substation has hazards, the substation under the transmission lines has electrical hazards that would not be found in the substation built in an open field. The substation built under transmission lines is considered covered work due to the electrical system hazards.

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Pam Tompkins

Electric Power Standards- Subcontractors Performing Nonelectrical Work in Restricted Areas

Electrical Power Plant 1200Does the Host Employer have any responsibility for subcontractors performing nonelectrical work inside restricted workareas. The answer is Yes! Host employers have the responsibility to develop and implement appropriate procedures to communicate required information effectively to subcontractors. The required information would include voltages, MAD distances, arc flash hazards and many others in the restricted workareas. 

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Pam Tompkins

Electric Power Training Requirements for Nonelectrical Employees

electric power substationDoes OSHA require nonelectrical employees to be "Qualified"? The answer is yes when nonelectrical employees need to access areas, or perform tasks restricted to "Qualified Employees". Areas could include substations, generating facilities, transmission and distribution lines and equipment. An few nonelectrical examples include extending a substation fence in an energized substation,  adding a communication tower in an energized substation, spraying herbicides in substations and around underground energized equipment , forming concrete foundations under energized transmission lines, adding pole treament chemicals to wood poles, and many more. All of these jobs require employees to access areas restricted to "Qualified Employees" and OSHA requires the following minimum training requirements. Employees must know what is safe and not safe to touch, the maximum voltage in the workarea, the MAD distances for the maximum voltage and how to maintain the MAD for their work, how to identify and use protective equipment and most importantly, how to recognize electrical hazards and control or avoid the hazards for the work being performed. 

Training for nonelectrical employees working in substations


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SET Solutions, LLC

A Full-Service Safety
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