Top 5 Utility Worker Safety Tips
Utility work presents countless risks. Heights, electricity, and power tools all pose serious utility worker safety hazards on a daily basis. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported 4,674 U.S. worker deaths in 2017. The construction industry was by far the most dangerous, though utility work fell into many of the same pitfalls. Employees specializing in electrical and waterworks maintenance were the most affected.
Between 2003 to 2010, there were over 160 recorded deaths from contact with electrical currents. Aside from electrical hazards, employees who frequently deal with sewage, water, and gas also face substantial environmental risks. Safety hazards in these sectors are exceedingly common, often due to lack of proper equipment. Simple upgrades like a lineman speed wrench, lineman socket, roller clutch, crank handle, and tight fit wrench can help cut back on these accidents.
Let’s look at a few of the best safety tips in the utility sector:
1. Wear personal protective equipment
Personal protective equipment (PPE) plays a huge role in workplace safety. Protective equipment like the right gloves and tools can mean the difference between a job well done and a request for medical leave. As a result, we stress the importance of protecting your body. In utility worker safety, a staggering number of accidents happen because of inadequate PPE.
Utility companies should ensure that their staff never wear clothes that could combust, burn quickly, or stick to their skin in a fire. Fire-retardant uniforms like coveralls often decrease the likelihood of deadly burns in the event of an electrical or thermal fire. At a minimum, the outer layer of the uniform should be flame-resistant. Tight or tucked-in clothing helps as well. Any utility workers that work in close proximity to electric arc hazards should wear additional layers of protective clothing or equipment with an sufficient arc rating. OSHA requires full-body protection for any utility worker exposed to over 600 volts.
2. Watch the Weather
Total-body protection is crucial, but so is accommodating the forecast. Because utility workers do most of their work outside – often in the bright roadside sunlight of highways and street corners – they need to be both safe and comfortable. Always opt for uniforms that are compatible with every season. For example, selecting the best uniforms for summer can prevent heat stroke and fatigue. In utility work, altering uniforms this way could lead to a fall in fatal electric shocks.
3. Avoid Falls
Working at heights is an inevitable challenge of utility worker safety. Whether it’s scaling towers, climbing scaffolding, inspecting water and gas systems, or operating machinery off the ground, it’s a clear and present danger. According to the United States Department of Labor, falls associated with working at heights were recorded to be the most significant cause of workplace deaths in 2017.
Heights are the most major cause of death in the utility sector. OSHA requires employers to provide updated fall protection systems to curb the rise of fatal falls. Furthermore, every surface in the field should be free from slipping or tripping. Personal fall arrest systems that include ropes, harnesses, and boots are your best tools to accomplish this. These systems can save a worker in the event of a fall or a loss of consciousness.
4. Prevent Electrocution
Electric shocks and electrocution are extremely common threats to utility worker safety. An employer should try to prevent these accidents by enacting proper electricity safety elements where possible. For instance, utility workers should always be aware of overhead wires when operating heavy machinery. OSHA’s related safety standards are the industry standard for dealing with electric equipment at a job site. Failure to assemble the right equipment, uniforms, or guidelines to utility workers could unfortunately lead to serious electrical accidents and deaths as a result.
In utility worker safety, proper equipment prevents employees from making accidental contact with energized parts or equipment. In addition, they prevent inadvertent contact with energized conductors with a grounded surface. The risk of worker injury skyrockets when cover up is not used. 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. To prevent this, employers should plan ahead and make sure employees have sufficient cover-up equipment before a job begins.
5. Report Workplace Hazards
Many employee injuries and deaths, tragically, occur due to employer negligence. Contributing to an unsafe workplace could unreasonably place utility workers in jeopardy. It is every employer’s duty to obey OSHA’s policies and regulations, from properly training utility workers to containing hazardous substances. Never negligently or intentionally break these rules to save time or money.
If a utility worker notices a workplace hazard or violated OSHA standard, he or she should notify the employer immediately. After that, it is the utility company’s duty to resolve the situation in a reasonable time-frame. However, should the company ignore the concern, a utility worker can take the matter directly to OSHA by filing an official complaint anonymously. In response, OSHA will send one of its inspectors to the workplace to investigate further. Common safety violations in the utility industry include lack of fall protection, lax hazard communication standards, unsafe ladders, and lack of eyewear or facewear. In any case, OSHA can force an employer to improve the safety of the workplace if there is cause for alarm.
Committed to Safety Standards
To make your lives easier, Lowell Corporation specializes in hand tools that are fully compliant with OSHA standards. Whether your job needs a lineman speed wrench, lineman socket, roller clutch, crank handle, or a tight fit wrench, Lowell has custom solutions for your utility equipment.
For most manual lineman labor and machine design, there is a balance between cost and efficiency. Similarly, our ratchet technology strikes the best balance for productivity in construction, maintenance, and manufacturing operations. Let our ratchet and wrench technology make your labor go smoothly. When you use a Lowell tool, you’re backed by the most trusted name in the hand tool industry.
Lowell Corporation is proud to manufacture all of its tools right here in the U.S.A. in the heart of New England. All Lowell wrenches are 100% guaranteed with our two-year manufacturer warranty.