The month of May is Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) National Electrical Safety Month,with the 2021 theme of being “Connected to Safety”. During the course of month, Rutkoski Fencing increases awareness efforts by highlighting the dangers that workers are exposed to due to electricity. Whether the hazard is a possible life-threatening utility strike or exposed wires on tools, we have prevention methods in place for all levels of danger.
Awareness and Training
Our electrical hazard mitigation begins with awareness through training. All employees participate in our company specific Electrical Awareness and Safety video upon hire. The training covers electrical terminology, grounding techniques, electrical injuries, overhead power lines, underground utilities, step and touch potential, electrocution prevention methods, and other hazards related to power tools and electricity. To keep the information fresh to the mind, designated Toolbox Talks, or morning jobsite meetings, on the topic of electrical safety is assigned on a regular basis.
Overhead and Underground Utility Strikes
Due to our frequent work with energy and utility companies and in substations, our field teams are exposed to both underground and overhead electrical lines almost every day. Our safety department has crafted extensive trainings that focus on prevention methods, the key to serious injury avoidance, and what to do in the event of a utility strike emergency. All equipment operators are required to have a spotter, an appointed team member to guide operators, any chance there is potential for equipment to encounter energized parts. All Rutkoski Fencing employees must follow the minimum approach distances, usually ten feet, and often have qualified lineman to spot our operators as an added safety measure.
To prevent underground utility strikes, we contact PA One Call before digging to ensure there are no underground utilities in excavation areas. We have implemented a “Rules to Dig By” procedure that includes electronically filling out a job site assessment, or Excavation Permit, that acts as a checklist to make sure every control measure is in place, all employees are aware of potential underground utilities, and that all our preventions are being followed before each project excavation. Instructions on how to “soft dig” are also provided.
Grounding is used as a control in prevention. Equipment and trailers in substations must be grounded using grounding cables and in certain instances, our employees are required to wear dielectric boots and insulated gloves to avoid shock from induction in the area.
Power tools are used every day on every site and exposed wires can cause electric injuries. Our workers are educated to:
- Inspect tools before each use
- Look for damage to cords or tool itself for shock prevention
- Not use tools in water
- Not to use tools for anything other than their intended purpose
- Not to use damaged tools
- If tool is damaged, take it out of service and request a replacement
Electricity is uniquely unforgiving when proper procedures are not followed. It is essential that our workers are informed and reminded of safe practices around power lines, return home safe every day, and never become complacent to the serious injury that can occur.
Rutkoski Fencing, Inc. Health, Safety, Environment (HSE) Handbook