Electrical utility line work is dangerous, and there are many hazards that come along with this type of work. Electrical utility safety experts Danny Raines and Jim Vaughn were able to sit down with us and discuss today’s top electrical utility hazards for line workers.
Failure to identify job hazards
If an employee doesn’t know the dangers of their job, they won’t be able to protect against them. Both Raines and Vaughn found that employee failure to identify and grasp jobsite hazards has led to numerous electrical utility accidents in the past year. Before ever stepping foot on a work site, employees need to know what hazards exist and what steps to take to reduce the risk of accident and injury.
Failure to use proper personal protective equipment
Personal protective equipment (PPE) plays a huge factor when it comes to workplace safety. Wearing protective equipment like proper gloves can mean the difference between a healthy hand and a hand burned from electrical contact. Raines and Vaughn stressed the importance of protecting the body while working, noting that a large number of utility accidents occur because of employee failure to use PPE.
Failure to use proper cover up equipment
In electrical work, cover up equipment is intended to both prevent employees from making accidental contact with energized parts or equipment, and to prevent accidental contact of energized conductors with the grounded surface of pole or crossarms. Raines said the risk of worker injury skyrockets when cover up is not used. According to Vaughn, a large number of accidents also occur when there is a lack of cover up and workers have to move their cover during a job. Employers should plan ahead and make sure employees have sufficient cover up equipment before a job begins.
Failure to protect against currents in grounded systems
Many linemen assume grounded systems are safe because they are grounded, but that’s not always the case. As Vaughn explained it, utility linemen do a lot more transmission work at higher voltages these days than they did 10-15 years ago. As these voltages have increased, so have the incidences of induction. Induction creates a circulating current in grounded systems, which is how electric current in grounded systems has become one of today’s top hazards. To make the workplace safer, Vaughn suggests employers educate workers on what causes induction, how to protect against the hazards it creates, and how to control currents circulating in grounded systems.
Failure to drive safely to and from the job
According to Raines, many employees don’t realize that driving to the job is part of the job. Too many accidents occur on the road, he explained, because workers are in a rush, complacent or preoccupied. To prevent driving accidents, employees need to keep their attention on the road and adhere to traffic safety laws. Being late to a job is not worth driving dangerously and risking injury, or worse.
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