Western’s Fall Protection Training for Linemen

Western’s Fall Protection Training for Linemen


I’m Dave Katich, lineman
and Regional Fall Protection coordinator
for the Desert Southwest Region. In this video we will
outline Western’s response to the new OSHA fall
protection standards. With me today is James
Hill, lineman and regional fall protection
coordinator for Sierra Nevada, Shayne Bender,
lineman and regional fall protection coordinator for
Upper Great Plains, and Jason Wientjes lineman and
regional fall protection coordinator for
Rocky Mountain. Together, we’ll help
explain the changes, and what impact they will
have on your crew. Across the industry,
falls from elevated work positions on Transmission
and Distribution structures still continue. Western’s leadership
remains committed to our role as a safety
leader and innovator in eliminating work place
falls from height. Thank you for taking the
time out of your busy schedule and learn how
to comply with OSHA’s new fall protection standards. The safety of Western’s
employees is my number one concern. This is not lip service. The work that’s done
on transmission service regularly ranks as one of
the most dangerous jobs in the world. Western has a long and
proactive safety record which we can be proud of. Our incident, injury and
lost time rates are below the industry averages. However, we know
we can do more. I am excited how
Western-through the fall protection committee-has
embraced OSHA’s new fall protection standards and
served as a leader for the rest of the electric
utility industry. I expect everyone,
from the foreman to the apprentice, to fully
adopt the fall protection requirements. At the same time, we must
move beyond the notion that if we do a good job
with complying with the OSHA regs, we will have
a safe organization. We have to get past the
legalistic regulatory view of compliance and honor
the spirit of safety, where safety permeates
the culture of our organization and
our industry. These new rules represent
a change in the way your work has been
conducted for decades. That does not, however
make past safety practices bad or wrong. Safety is constantly
evolving to encompass new technology an d better
ways of doing business. There is always room for
improvement to make our jobs safer. Complying may take more
time and may slow work down-that is ok. I am fine with delays
to keep our people safe. Equipment can replace and
power revive, but a life cannot. As important that the work
we do to keep the lights on and power flowing, the
most important thing we can do is to ensure that
everyone goes home safely to their family at
the ends of the day. Thank you for everything
you do for Western, our nations, the customers,
if you have any thoughts about this video, fall
protection, or any other employee topics, please
do not hesitate to contact me, My door is
always open. OSHA made significant
changes to both General Industry Standard-
1910.269, (commonly referred to the
maintenance standard) and the Construction
standard 1926 Sub Part V. 100% attachment while
climbing and transitioning obstacles is required in
both standards, and now applies to both wood
and steel structures. So the long standing
“Qualified Climber” exemption rule that
allowed linemen “while climbing or changing
work positions” to do so, unattached, no
longer applies. In the new standards,
OSHA allows the utility industry three different
work methods to achieve 100% fall protection for
an employee working at heights of more than 4
feet on a pole, tower, or similar structure. They are: Work
Positioning, Fall Restraint and Fall Arrest. Work positioning is: “A
body belt or body harness system rigged to allow an
employee to be supported on an elevated vertical
surface, such as a utility pole or tower leg, and
work with both hands free while leaning.” Under the new rules, it
must be rigged so that the user can fall no
more than 2 feet. Wood pole fall restrict
devices, such as the Buck Squeeze, and Cinch Lok,
meet the new requirements. Fall restraint is: “A fall
protection system that prevents the user from
falling any distance.” In practical applications
on wood poles and towers, this method is very
limited as it would restrict all
vertical movement. Fall arrest is: “A system
used to arrest an employee in a fall from a
working level.” With a fall arrest system,
a climber has full access and mobility, and in
the event of a fall, the system will safely
arrest the climber. OSHA requires the system
to be rigged so the climber can free fall
no more than 6 feet. Utilities and electrical
contractors, along with support from the
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers,
have been moving steadily forward with wood pole
fall protection over the last several years. Equipment vendors have
been engineering and developing different types
and configurations of wood pole fall restrict devices
to accommodate the needs of individual climbers. Today, use of these
devices can be found throughout the
utility industry. So now, let’s take a
look at what changes OSHA requires when climbing
wood structures. OSHA states in the
preamble that work positioning is for
vertical applications only, such as poles and
tower legs, and is not suitable for horizontal
applications like crossarms and tower arms. OSHA specifically mentions
in the preamble using work positioning on crossarms
as inappropriate. So what does this mean
for Western’s lineman? A fall arrest system
is now required when accessing crossarms. As we learned earlier, the
use of a full body harness is a required component
of a fall arrest system. A lanyard or SRL will need
to be attached back to the pole. Of all the rules in the
new OSHA standard, the use of 100% fall protection on
steel towers has proven to be the most challenging. Last year, Western held a
national fall protection symposium and invited
utilities from all over the US and Canada to meet
and discuss methods of 100% attachment
on steel towers. It was clear there
are no easy solutions. The symposium members
generally agreed that using a life safety rope
attached at the top of the tower and having climbers
attach and climb with mobile fall arresters
was a workable solution. Of course that solution
has one small problem. How do you get the first
man up the tower to install the lifeline
in the first place? To answer that question,
it’s necessary to first understand what components
of the steel tower are suitable for fall
arrest anchors. With the light loading
tower, you’re gonna have the most risk of being
attached to a member that’s very small-its
gonna be your worst problem. If youre in a med loading
zone, you’ve got a little better member, if youre
in a heavy loading zone, youre better yet. In that consideration of
the light loading zone, If youre on a suspension
tower, you’re on the lightest possible
tower that Western has. So that one is the
most risk for you. If youre up on the bridge
attached, your best possible connections are
gonna be right there where the leg comes right up
to the ground wire peak. Anywhere in there you’ve
got a lot of bolted connections, everything
is really strong. Once you get out on the
arm now, there’s where the risk starts increasing. Obviously youre not going
to be attached below yourself which is the
strongest member running right along the one youre
standing on so the member that s above you, that
one there is going to be a problem, Every one of the
light member towers, that one there is actually
a tension member. That tension member on a
suspension member is not made for any kind of
attachment at all and it will give. You’ll know that when
you attach to it, itll be moving all over the place. Its not very big, it
looks…it doesn’t even look strong enough
most of the time. Cuz all its made for like
I said before, it’s a tension member. Its like a cable, that’s
what its made for. Its not made for
you to attach to. So if you attach to the
center of that member, that’s your maximum risk
if you fall of that thing breaking and ripping
right off the tower. Its not made for that. So that member there
is always going to be a problem and the only
safe place to attach to unfortunately, is
backwards connected back to the tower which
may be far away. And you really don’t
want more than one person attached to any
one member at all. With two people on there
you really have a lot of problems. If somebody falls, both of
you are probably gonna go because that one is
not going to hold. Across the bridge, you
have allot more options because all the horizontal
members even though they are a tension member
across the top, they have allot of bracing, they
aren’t very long and they’re actually a lot
bigger member than the ones on the arm. But you do have to watch
when you are in the middle of those members sometimes
they on certain towers, they may not be very big. Especialy on the square
arms maybe when you’ve got two of them, versus the
triangle arms at the top or you might have a single
member, that one is going to obviously be heavier. So you’d be better off
that’s across the bridge. So, you’ve got the end
of the arm and across the bridge. Going up the ground wire
peak, You gotta stay right there on the edge of
the leg member, on that connection, the members
on the bottom are gonna be longer so that first one
up is the biggest one so its gonna be the most
risky so you want to makes sure you stay at the end
of that member and keep going up the leg on the
rest of the step bolts. With the step bolts, you
have to be careful on the end of those step holds
because you have no sense of fall protection
on any of those. Theyre just made
for climbing. Once you get to the top of
the tower, you can attach anywhere on the top piece
of the overhead ground wire attachment, there’s
allot of bolts up there. If you can find something
to wrap around the members, if you have more
than one, If you have to take the ground wire off
what ever it is youre doing up there. If you cant find a spot,
there might be an extra hole up there sometimes. It’s a working hole that
we put on some of them, too. You can attach to that
one, it’s a great member. All of those attachment
holes were designed for a minimum of 5000 pounds
just to pick up the ground wire. So you wont have a
problem with the holes. So, if you have a
suspension structure in a light loading zone, you
have allot of members that are small and you have to
worry about how you attach to them. Those members you
shouldn’t be attaching to the middle-you should be
attaching as close to the connection as possible. If I were to pick the
easiest, I would say the connection that is
attached to the biggest member, that would
be the safest spot. So let’s take a look at
several options for the first man-up. James, what are some of
the options that we’ve developed? One of the options we’re
going to use is the Buck Hook. Where the Buck Hook is
attached to a long stick which will be attached to
the climber via an SRL or a rope with a mobile
fall arrester. And the climber will
attach that to the steel anchorage as they assend. Another type of equipment
that we’ll use is the the Y-Lanyard. We’ll be snapping into
engineered anchorages as we ascend the tower. Another version of that
Y-Lanyard is this one right here which will have
steel or aluminum hooks. Another option that
climbers are going to have using a Y-Lanyard attached
to the harness and using bigger pelican hooks
to attach around the structure as they climb. Another method we
have is lead climbing. Can you tell us a
little bit about that? Yeah. Lead climbing is where a
belayed device is anchored to the structure and it
keeps the climber attached to a rope and anchorage
points every 3 to 4 feet while ascending the tower
and the belay device will arrest the individual’s
fall if a fall should occur. Now does the device do it
automatically or does the attendant need to
automatically act on the I-D? The device will arrest
the fall automatically. The attendee attends the
bilay device to ensure that rope follows through
the belay device as they ascend the tower. Once the first man up has
reached the top of the tower, he can drop a life
safety line such as we have here. Once the live safety lne
has been dropped to the ground, the rest of the
crew members can climb the tower in the same fashion
they have over the years except using a mobile
life safety device such as this. The petzel ASAP rides up
and down the line as the climber climbs or
descends, giving the climber full motion and
control in the tower. If the climber does have
a fall, the ASAP locks up instantly and prevents
the cimber from falling. Here we are, we’re up in
the bridge of a 345 KV Dead end tower. With me is James, James is
gonna show us a few things to consider when we’re in
the bridge and looking at new 100% fall
protection requirements. You notice we’re having
our-we’re wearing our full body harnesses you also
notice that we have Y-Lanyards attached wo
that we’re 100 percent attached behind me. You’ll notice that James
is 100% attached as well. Really, the question here
is how do you move around the tower while
remaining 100% attached. So James if you kind of
demonstrate the equipment that we have and how we’re
going to have to work in the bridge at this time. OK What I have is a
Y-Lanyard with the new OSSHA rules youre going
to have to maintain 100% attachment while
transitioning bridges on towers. So one option is to have
two big Pelican Hooks set into your Y-Lanyard. That you can transition
on to the steel members as you make your way across. Now, let’s say that these
hooks are so big that they are not going to make
it over this size steel. Another option is to take
a small swing with your Y-Lanyard and hook your
Y-Lanyard– obviously you’re going to need two
of these for a transition onto the bigger steel
and you can work your way across on that. And that is important
because evne though this is a 345 deadend tower,
the 500 deadend towers can have 6 inch angle members
and none of the current hooks that have a gate
rated strength with the ANSI stamp on them are
manufactured right now. So we’re going to have
to go with the tie back method on the larger
types of steel. Additional things to
consider here, when you’re working in a fall arrest
mode, that means we cannot fall more than 6 feet
according to the new OSHA fall arrest standards. So now you have to think
about most of the anchors behind you have to be
in to where they are essentially over your head
and not down at your feet. So in this case, we
want to talk about work positioning up here. Work positioning we have
traditionally used in the horizontal position. And that was with our
secondary points of attachments or our skids. James is gonna demonstrate
what weve been using for our work positioning
system prior to the new rules. As you notice, in our work
position mode here, OSHA now requires that if we
use work position, it has to be rigged so that you
can’t fall more than two feet. And in this case, if
you’re looking at the steel, he can fall
more than two feet. The second point to
mention, is that OSHA specifically mentions in
their preamble that work positioning is going
to be inappropriate for horizontal work surfaces. And they even mention
cross arms as a horizontal work surface. So what that means for us
is that we have to be in fall arrest mode as we’re
walking and working on the horizontal surface. on the tower arm also
back in the bridge. The issue here is that
we can still use work positioning for our lean
out so that we can have our hands free, but we
must still have some type of attachment here that
remains 100% across the lattice members. Another item that we need
to consider up here is where do we actually put
these attachments to be 100% in the lattice? The question is is every
single piece of lattice member the same when it
comes to a fall arrest anchor? So, James, what are some
considerations that we need to think about when
we’re looking in the bridge here, specifically
all this lacing-is there anchors that are
appropriate and some that aren’t? Absolutely. Even though this is a
single bolted member, we also have to consider
feasibility from OSHA. I really do’t have
anything else to attach to here, except for a large
dead end member here that this member may not
go over and its also interconnected with
other pieces of lacing. SO this anchorage
here should work. One thing that you don’t
want to do is connect something around a
diagonal where you are going to slide because you
also have to take in the total distance of the
slide into your six feet. So if I have on a six foot
lanyad as Dave has on, and I slide now five feet
down that steel, that’s considered technically
an 11-foot fall, so that wouldn’t be allowed. Another thing you wouldn’t
be able to do with it as well as work positioning,
is put it around a vertical member that
doesn’t have a lacing or a catch underneath
it to support it. Because now, this total
vertical drop has to be added into the total fall
arrest distance as well. That’s a good
point, James. Another point to add on is
that where this anchor is, if you see on the anchor
here-we have a piece of steel, a piece of lattice
out to the center where the “X” crosses. This is about 5-6 feet. Theres a difference in
anchorage strength if the anchor point is back here
close to the pinpoint verses out here
in the middle. From a structural standpoint,
the anchor here has less strength than the
material back here. So we want to try and
focus at keeping our anchors at the cross, or
an X or in a crotch of lattice, rather than out
here in an empty member. If you’re transitioning
using these members to the side, you will be crossing
through your weakest anchorages where the
greatest vector will be on them. But that falls back to
OSHA’s feasibility rule where being attached to
something is far better than being attached
to nothing. Now, another point that
OSHA talks about is worker fall restraint. This is your secondary
lanyard here which we traditionally use in work
positioning, But you can use another piece of
equipment as long as it meets the ratings for the
other type of system that you’re going to use. And for fall restraint,
there is no ratings because technically
there shouldn’t be any fall. So, even though this isn’t
a vertical member, as long as I can’t incur any fall,
I keep this tight, I can use this work positioning
equipment for fall restraint, because I’m not
going to allow any fall so there’s should be no
induced forces on the anchorages, so
therefore it doesn’t require any type of
engineered status or any type of minimum standards. And that’s an important
point to remember that in this position here, there
is no potential for a fall-any distance. So in this case here,
the tension is all in his secondary and should he
lose his footing, there are no additioinal forces
imposed on that angle member. So that’s another
consideration or another option that we can
consider when working in the bridge. The last point that we’d
like to consider when we talk about anchoring
multiple people to one anchor, we want to think
about other considerations there, we might want to
think about other members. For example, with this
member here, if I were to take my secondary and
attach them where James was at right now, and
James attaches his secondary up here, now we
have two people attached to a single
lattice member. And from an OSHA
perspective this requires that we increase the
strength rating of this steel member to be able
to hold the weight of two people in a fall arrest
mode-in that case, ten thousand pounds. So its important to
understand that if you are going to have additional
people working in the bridge next to you that
you spread your positions or anchors out away from
just one lattice member such as we have
in this case here. Safety is of prime
importance at Western. And it is our goal to ensure
that each employee return home to their family the same
as they started each day. Myself and the WMMC is
absolutely committed to the new Fall Protection
effort and the safety of our employees. People’s lives are worth
the time it takes to be compliant with the Fall
protection mandates. If you happen to have
a family at home, your family is counting on you
coming home at the end of the day. I and WMMC expect full
compliance with the new OSHA Fall Protection Regulations
in support of keeping our employees safe. Thank you for
watching this video. Fall protection and your
safety in general is WMMC’s top concern and a matter that
we take very seriously. Together, we can make sure that
no one falls and that everyone returns home safely.

3 Replies to “Western’s Fall Protection Training for Linemen”

  1. Check out Western's new fall protection training video for linemen. It comes just time to help our crews meet OSHA's new fall protection standards requiring 100 percent attachment April 1.

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