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Host employer responsibilities regarding distribution of safety information

Host employer responsibilities regarding distribution of safety information

Did you know, before any work begins, that Host employers must inform Contract employers of know conditions that are related to the safety of the work to be performed, including environmental conditions to the extent they relate to electric lines and equipment?

For example, the Host employer must inform the Contract employer of known ground conditions that impact the stability of, or an employee’s ability to safely climb, a pole. In generating plants, the Host employer is required to inform Contract employers of the known presence of coal dust or fly ash to the extent the presence of those substances relate to electric lines or equipment.

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SAFETY ... Perception vs. Reality

SAFETY ... Perception vs. Reality

By: Matt Edmonds, CHST and Pam Tompkins, CSP, CUSP

In today’s world perceptions can sometimes be a far cry from reality. We often hear and see things that shape our perceptions and that is no different in the workplace. Many times reality is buried so deep inside perceptions it is hard to hit the truth mark.  

An Employee’s perception of safety will often dictate their attitude toward safety on the job. If workers at your company were asked, “Who is responsible for your safety?” Would their answer be, “the Safety Director” or would it be “I am”? The perception may be that the Safety Director is responsible for their safety however the reality is that we are all responsible for our own safety. How employees answer this question can be a good indicator of the safety culture of the company. Often the perception of a company’s safety process may vary greatly depending on the different levels of employees. For example, Management’s perception of a company’s safety process may be that it is among the best in the industry because there haven’t been many accidents, however field employees’ perception may be just the opposite because they feel like no one cares about them, and the reality of the safety process condition may be somewhere in the middle. How does knowing employees’ perception about a company’s existing safety process help develop a strong safety culture? The answer is simple: it’s impossible to get where you are going if you don’t know where you are, and that is true with a company’s safety culture.

Safety perception surveys can easily provide anonymous results so that companies can have an accurate view of employees’ perception of their safety processes. In the past, surveys were difficult and costly to manage because they were typically conducted in a one-on-one interview process. However, today’s technology has made surveys much easier logistically and much more cost effective. Surveys can easily be conducted through an online process making it much easier for employees to schedule the survey at their convenience.   These surveys collect all data online so there is no need for an on-site visit to conduct one-on-one interviews. This may be a positive as employees may be more apt to give true answers when they know they are not answering questions from an interviewer.

A safety perception survey report will help identify the good, the bad and the ugly! When questions are answered truthfully, the analyzed data can give a great idea of where a company is in regards to safety and identify possible deficiencies. Once they have been identified, a management plan can be developed and implemented to address those deficiencies and point the safety culture in the proper direction.

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Does a Host Employer have any responsibility for subcontractors performing non-electrical work inside restricted work areas?

Does a Host Employer have any responsibility for subcontractors performing non-electrical work inside restricted work areas?

The answer is Yes!

Host Employers have the responsibility to develop and implement appropriate procedures to ensure required information is communicated effectively to subcontractors so they can comply with the OSHA Electric Power standards and pass the information on to employees for their safety. The required information would include voltages, MAD distances, arc flash hazards and many others inside the restricted work areas. 

Ultimately, the Host Employer may establish centralized procedures that subcontractor employers and contract employees would use to obtain, or share, required information.

For more information on safety solutions, visit our website at: http://www.setsolutionsllc.com.

 

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Does Your Company Have an Effective Safety Management System?

Does Your Company Have an Effective Safety Management System?

Your safety program can have fully developed rules and procedures, a top-notch training program and the best safety equipment and tools money can buy – and there is still the possibility that it may not be successful. Although these things are extremely important and necessary, safety success will not occur until your safety program becomes a fully functional safety management system. This means that everyone in the organization is actively pursuing the same safety goals and working together in a synchronized manner to achieve those goals. A fully developed and well-executed safety management system is the backbone of safety excellence.

Safety Management System Components
What does a safety management system need in order to be effective? According to ANSI/AIHA Z10-2012, “Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems,” the following components are required for success:
• Management leadership and employee participation
• Planning
• Implementation and operations
• Evaluation and corrective action
• Management review

Let’s take a closer look at how each component is defined.

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Auditing for Safety Improvement

The mere thought of participating in an audit can be unnerving. Consider IRS audits for a moment – they can never mean good news, right? So why would an organization want to spend time, money and other resources to conduct an audit when it could be painful? The answer is that, regardless of the feelings they evoke, audits – when done right – can be a powerful organizational improvement tool rather than just a way to monitor compliance.

To better understand the importance of auditing for improvement, let’s review an example of a traditional compliance audit. In this example, the audit identified a distribution underground crew whose members did not use insulating cover-up while working inside a single-phase underground transformer. The apparent cause of the violation seemed straightforward – the crew members had simply failed to use appropriate insulating cover-up, so management reviewed the violation and mandated the crew to follow the rules in the future.

The action taken by management in this example seems acceptable, but was it truly enough? Will the apparent cause of this violation be completely remedied through talk and discipline? Although rule compliance is extremely important, audits that focus solely on this type of compliance may neglect to identify major gaps that contribute to an ineffective safety system. What happens if a utility doesn’t have the right people in place to support safety? For instance, it’s possible that workers have not been properly trained and frontline leaders don’t know how to apply the rules on a job site. In the previous example, the crew may not have understood how to use insulating cover-up on underground applications as they were only trained for application of cover-up on overhead lines.

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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- What does OSHA consider reasonable estimates of available heat energy?

arc flashWhat does OSHA consider reasonable estimates of available heat energy? Understanding that the largest available amount of fault current does not necessarily translate into the highest levels of available heat energy is extremely important. Device clearing times plays an important factor when determining reasonable estimates. An electric power system could have system locations with small amounts of fault current and large clearing time which could equate to to large amounts of available heat energy. Many utilities are looking throughout their system to determine if locations are fully protected by adding Hot Line Tag devices which clear instantaneously, 3 cycles or less. This requires utilities to have a strict Hot Line Tag procedure in place to ensure all work performed on or near electric power lines and equipment has been placed in a Hot Line Tag position. Note the compliance date has been extended to April 1, 2015 for completion of estimates of available heat energy exposures faced by employees who are exposed to electric arc hazards. Appendix E located in 29 CFR 1910.269 and 29 CFR Subpart V outlines methodology to comply with the standards. For more information contact us at SET Solutions, LLC. 

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Pam Tompkins

Electric Power Standards- Aerial Lift Fall Protection

bigstock Power Worker In A Lift Bucket 3103043Can a 6 foot shock absorbing lanyard be used while working from an aerial lift?  The answer requires an assessment to determine if the system will provide worker protection in the event of a fall. A 6 foot shock absorbing lanyard is a fall arrest system with clearance limitations that must be assessed. The system will tipically require between 16 to 20 feet of clearance before it fully engages which could allow a worker to sustain a serious injury from hitting a surface below. An employer has to determine if work is performed when an employee could be at distances to hit a structure or lower level, such as working on secondary, decorative street lights and many other work tasks. OSHA recommends that workers use the shortest lanyard practicable during ascent and descent and when working over structures to maximize worker protection.

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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
Training & Management
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P:  (803) 407-4707
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