Looking at this title, you may think selecting the correct safety gear or personal protective equipment (PPE) for the job would be easy. It would be in most work environments, but it is not simple for the power line industry. With almost 20 years of experience, I have discovered that employees and employers do not have as many options as one would think. Our safety gear covers safety glasses, dielectric footware, safety vests , and hard hats, to name a few. So, let us dive into the vast world of safety gear needed to keep you safe while working.
It does not matter if you work at an Investor-Owned Utility (IOU), Cooperative (Co-Op), Municipality, or Contractor company. These organizations all issue safety gear if you are awarded an opportunity to work there. So, why do they issue safety gear/PPE to their employees? Well, here are my thoughts on why this is done.
- To comply with state and federal safety regulations like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
- To protect employees from known electrical hazards like energized non-insulated conductors.
- To establish a safe work environment for all employees working on the work site.
Think about this: around fifty years ago, there were no line schools to educate and train the public about hazards when seeking a job opportunity in the powerline industry. There have been situations where guys have been cutting grass or raking leaves in their yards, pushing buggies at the local supermarket, hauling wood, and bailing hay on the family farm.
Now, let us stop here. At this point, does an individual know what type of safety gear they will need and the potential hazards they will be exposed to? I do not think so because I did not when I started my career. This is why organizations take the initiative to have the correct safety gear/PPE available when you begin. Because how would the new employee know unless they attend a lineman program before getting hired? This is why employers must enroll all newly hired employees in new hire orientation and give them the appropriate training to use the correct safety gear/PPE.
Selecting the correct safety gear will be standard in the powerline industry because it needs to be definitive. If organizations allow all these different safety items into the work site, this could lead to personal injuries or accidents. All the safety gear used should meet the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and American National Standards Institute (ANSI), to name a few.
In closing, our organizations have the safety gear/PPE needed to keep us all safe. Employees must pick from the selection of safety gear the company has chosen. Employees can select what the company has in stock but cannot wear what they want. So, the best advice I could tell someone about selecting the best safety gear would be,
- Pick comfortable sizes. Never wear something too small you cannot move in or something so big it will get caught in a rotating part.
- Make sure you wear it correctly; it could save your life.
- Identify what safety gear is needed while working in different work environments.
- Always inspect your safety gear/PPE.
- Never wear damaged safety gear/PPE.
- Always follow your company's processes, policies, and procedures, and if you have any questions or concerns, contact your safety professional immediately.
Listed are some of my favorite safety gear items.
- Bullard White Hard Hat
- Lift Viz Pro Hi-Viz Yellow Vest
- Nemesis Sunglasses/ Dual Lens Anti-Fog Safety Glasses
- NSA Select FR Henley Long Sleeve Shirt Clothing
- Ariat Men’s FR M4 Relaxed Basic Boot Cut Jean
- Klein Journeyman Leather Work Gloves
- Bashlin Harness Arc Flash Bucket Truck Harness with Nylon Loop. Review your company requirements.
- Thorogood American Heritage 8” Plain Safety Toe Boots. Review your company's requirements.
Save new FR clothing for the wintertime and older clothing for the summertime. Just ensure the older clothing is in good shape and not paper thin. It still needs to protect you!
Written by: Curtis Bradley
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