There is a school of thought over here in New Zealand that is really starting to annoy the Line Mechanics here. Generally, if you are required to do a call-out at night, you would normally have an extra Line Mechanic as a Safety Observer. In order to cut down on costs, the company that I work for, has said that after the 1st of June, a Safety Observer will not be responded to call-outs, be it day or night. The role of the Safety Observer, is merely to make sure that work is done safely and we are in direct radio contact with them all the time that we are near live lines. This could come to a Strike situation, as no-one(that I have spoken to)wants to jeopardise thier own safety, considering that we have to "work Hot", this is stipulated by the same company that is making us work w/o a Safety Observer. And around voltages like 3.3-33kV, you need someone to watch your back!!. What are your thoughts on this?. Is this fair?.
Trumpy, As the safety guy at work I agree with you. It always helps to have another set of eyes looking at something. They might see something that is out of your eye sight, or that you cannot see. Also in case something happens there is someone there to help out.
For example I wrote a procedure on how to use the eye wash and emergency shower. I wrote in there that if someone has to use this that someone needs to be there with the person. One to help if needed and two for moral support.
Unfortunately just last week we had someone get acid in their eye. There was an eye wash station 15' away and a clear path to it. This eye wash, while do close, is actually in the fittings department. Since this employee works in the tube department, he was more familiar with the layout of that department. His first instinct was to go to the eye wash station in the tube department. Over 100' away and with several obsticales he had to go around. This is just an example of how someone does not think logically when they are injured.
If I might make a suggestion, maybe you could offer to management that the safety observer does not have to be a line mechanic. Maybe someone who is paid cheaper, but is trained in first aid. This may not be the ideal situation, but you would still have your safety observer, and management would save money. Scott
Re: Safety Observers#148905 05/11/0310:27 AM05/11/0310:27 AM
It sounds to me like the line Mechanics are going to be required to work live primaries solo. If so, that really is a dangerous situation. At the utility I work at, all primary work is done with at least two qualified first class Lineman. This is policy at most US utilities and it became policy due to safety concerns. Working live primary in daylight can be difficult, but working by flood lights or spot lights at night is much more difficult & the hazards are easier to miss.
I would hope that the utilities would reconsider, based upon the safety risks.
Re: Safety Observers#148906 05/12/0301:38 AM05/12/0301:38 AM
OSHA Professor, What I meant was, you need someone to watch your back, in case there is an inadvertent contact with a line by the EWP or if the guys do something that may jeopadise thier own safety. At the voltages that we work with, a job can quickly become a disaster, if the guy down on the ground is not keeping an eye on us!.
Re: Safety Observers#148907 05/12/0301:57 AM05/12/0301:57 AM
ameterguy, We've always worked live Primaries on voltages up to 22kV, at least during the day. During these procedures, we use full cover-up gear and on the higher end of the scale flashsuits and EN 60903 gloves and Gauntlets. But, you add lack of light, sometimes rain, hail and even snow and you have the potential for a really bad accident to occur. People just want thier power back on, they don't care what sort of weather you have to go out in to accomplish this.
Re: Safety Observers#148908 05/12/0303:09 AM05/12/0303:09 AM
Guys, Also, I would like to add, that at no time over here, is there fewer than 1 person on an EWP, with a max. of 2. There was a thread last year about outages in the UK, can't remember the title, but, don't be too hard on us Lineys, we work in ALL sorts of inclement weather!.
Re: Safety Observers#148909 05/12/0311:49 AM05/12/0311:49 AM
I'd expect the likelyhood of emergency work to be inversly proportional to the weather: The worse the weather, the more service calls?
Where I live the PoCo's are reluctant to spend the money on clearing the trees on the side of the MV lines. This means that each year when the autumn and winter storms rage, the lines come down and an army of linesmen has to be sent out. Penny wise, pound foolish
C-H, We must have the same people running our PoCo!. At one time we even had a dedicated Tree Crew, that were properly trained in pruning and felling trees near our HV and EHV lines. They were disbanded about three years ago, never saw a tree that they couldn't tame!.
Having "a guy on the ground keeping an eye on you" is the wrong mindset. How about sttel erectors wanting an ambulance on site in case someone falls (10 stories)? Would'nt fall protection be a better approach?
Why would you contact a line? Are you maintaining MAD's (minimum approach distances)? Are you wearing proer PPE? Gloves, Sleeves? How about adding line hose, or blankets? Could this job be done with hot stics? Why would other trained professionals jeapordize your safety? Has a pre job briefing been conducted? Do all the exerienced trained professionals know their respective roles? If the unexpected arises during the job does the crew stop, reassess, and re-brief?
Personally, I doubt if having anyone standing by in the event of a 22kV line contact would be of any benefit. I still fail to see the benefit of an observer, absent safe work practices, proper equipment, PPE, etc. In other words fix whats broke, don't bring in someone to watch it. OSHA Professor