- Identify safety standards for cord- and-plug-connected equipment.
- Recognize safe practices for working with portable and vehicle-mounted generators.
- Explain how to safely use and maintain hydraulic and pneumatic tools.
- Define quality assurance practices for live-line tools.
Available in English
Health Statistics, CDC
The use of tools enables worker in all professions to work much more productively, but hand and power tools can expose workers to flying objects like sparks and metal and wood splinters, electrical shock, and sharp blades and loud noises.
As tool users, lineworkers have a primary role in safety. Workers must have clear, established safety protocols for working with each unique piece of equipment and workers must follow those procedures when using tools, while relying on training to operate equipment safely.
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) requires that workers comply with certain standards when working with any cord and plug-connected equipment, and we’re going to run through a few of those here.
Requirements For Cord-and-Plug-Connected Equipment
Any cord-and-plug-connected equipment powered by external wiring must meet the following:
- Be equipped with a cord containing an equipment grounding conductor connected to the tool frame and to a means for grounding the other; or
- Be double-insulated; or
- Be connected to the power supply through an isolating transformer with an ungrounded secondary.
Requirements For Using Portable Generators
Portable and vehicle-mounted generators are often used on the job to supply cord and plug-connected equipment.
- The generator is used to supply equipment located on the generator or the vehicle, and cord-and-plug-connected equipment.
- The non-current-carrying metal parts of equipment and the equipment grounding conductor terminals of the receptacles must be bonded to the generator frame.
- All neutral conductors are bonded to the generator frame.
- For vehicle-mounted generators, the generator frame must be bonded to the vehicle frame.
Hydraulic and Pneumatic Tool Safety Standards
Hydraulic and pneumatic tools, such as drills and grinders, are essential to the job of a lineworker. The following safety standards can help prevent accidents.
- Do not exceed safe operating pressures.
- Do not use any equipment if hazardous defects are present.
- The maximum rated operating pressure is the maximum safe pressure.
- The rating is found on the tool or hose and is there for worker safety—never exceed it.
A hydraulic or pneumatic tool used where it may contact exposed live parts must be designed and maintained for such use. For example, tools would have additional safety features, such as quick shut-offs and insulated hoses. Also, lineworkers are not to use any part of their person to locate or attempt to stop a hydraulic leak. A pinhole leak combined with high pressure usually found in a hydraulic system could cause severe injury to human tissue.
Long hydraulic lines without check valves promote the formation of a partial vacuum. If a partial vacuum does form, the hydraulic system and any tools attached to it could be damaged and hydraulic fluid could be released. Hydraulic tools used near exposed live parts must provide protection against the formation of a partial vacuum in the hydraulic line.
A pneumatic tool used on energized electric lines or equipment, or used where it may contact exposed live parts, must provide protection against the accumulation of moisture in the air supply. If moisture does accumulate, it could cause erosion damage, or cause more serious damage to the tool or compressor. Also, unless lineworkers have access to quick acting, self-closing connectors, they must make sure the pressure is released before breaking pneumatic hose connections.
Proper Selection of Tools
- Live-line tool rods, tubes, and poles (hotsticks) should be designed and constructed to withstand the appropriate minimum tests.
- Tools must be rated to handle the voltage and conditions linemen are usually working with.
- Lineworkers must make sure they have the right tool for the job.
Maintenance of Tools
- Before using any live-line tool, workers should visually inspect it for defects.
- If any defect or contamination is present, workers should remove the tool from service.
- Lineworkers must examine and test a repaired tool before returning it to service.
Finally, remember that workers must dress for the job by removing loose clothing or articles that could get caught in a tool’s moving parts, including jewelry when necessary. They must also wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when required; even with hand tools the job or the tool will often require specific personal protective equipment. PPE only works if you wear it.
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