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June 2014

Downed Power Lines Can Be Deadly

Tony Jones 2014 Posted by Tony Jones

Electrical lines are prevalent throughout this country, and it is not unusual to find them damaged and on the ground or low hanging. Windstorms, vehicle crashes, or power transmission equipment failure can result in an extremely dangerous situation. Downed electrical power lines can carry an electric current strong enough to cause serious injury or even death.  A typical overhead power line will carry up to 50,000 volts and some far more.  Treat these with the respect they deserve.

Remember the line does not have to be in actual contact with the ground to be dangerous. A drooping power line is just as dangerous.  Electricity wants to move from a high voltage zone to a low voltage zone – and it could do that through your body.

Yet every so often we hear of some tragedy where someone has made contact or approached close enough where serious injury or a fatality results. Even people trained or educated in electrical safety can become casualties.

Basic Safety Tips from the Electrical Safety Foundation International

  • If you see a downed power line, move away from it and anything touching it. The ground around power lines – up to 35 feet away - may be energized.
  • You cannot tell whether or not a power line is energized just by looking at it. You should assume that all downed power lines are live.
  • Never walk under or step over a downed power line.
  • The proper way to move away from the power line is to shuffle away with small steps, keeping your feet together and on the ground at all times. This will minimize the potential for a strong electric shock.
  • If you see someone who is in direct or indirect contact with the downed line, do not touch the person. You could become the next victim. Call 911 for help.
  • Do not attempt to move a downed power line or anything else in contact with it by using an object such as a broom or stick. Even non-conductive materials like wood or cloth, can conduct electricity if even slightly wet.
  • Be careful not to touch or step in water near where a downed power line is located.
  • Do not drive over downed power lines.
  • If your car comes in contact with a downed power line while you are inside, stay in the car. Honk your horn to summon help, but direct others to stay away from your car.
  • If you must leave your car because it is on fire, jump out of the vehicle with both feet together and avoid contact with both the car and the ground at the same time. Shuffle away from the car.

For further information regarding this subject check out the OSHA Fact Sheet Working Safely Around Downed Electrical Wires.  

Learning Made Fun! OSHA Launches an Interactive Hazard Identification Game-Based Training Tool

  Greg LaRochelle 2014 Posted by Greg LaRochelle

Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, announced the unveiling of a new training resource for hazard identification at the June 10th annual conference of the American Society of Safety Engineers.  As said by Dr. Michaels, "Hazard identification is a critical part of creating an injury and illness prevention program that will keep workers safe and healthy on the job."  

Created to assist small businesses, the training tool allows users to either assume the role of a business owner or employee in a virtual construction or manufacturing environment.  Stated in OSHA’s Trade News Release, “The tool explains the key components of the hazard identification process, which include information collection, observation of the workplace, investigation of incidents, employee participation and prioritizing hazards.”  The hazard identification tool webpage includes an introduction, instructions on how to play, and a game manual along with other resources.

For a video preview of the interactive tool, click on this Hazard ID Game Trailer.

To get started on learning the process of finding hazards in the workplace, click on the Hazard Identification Training Tool.

Keeping "Yutes" Safe During Summer Employment

Greg LaRochelle 2014 Posted by Greg LaRochelle

In the movie, My Cousin Vinny, actor Joe Pesce plays a New York lawyer who defends his cousin, Billy, and a friend, both students at NYU, from a crime they did not commit while traveling through Alabama.  While representing the two boys in court, Pesce (Vinny Gambini) refers to them with a heavy Brooklyn accent as the “two yutes”.  The puzzled judge asks Vinny to clarify with Vinny retorting, “Oh, excuse me, your honor, two YOUTHS.”

With school out for summer, many employers will be hiring YOUTHS for seasonal help.  Federal and state laws establish safety standards and restrictions for young workers.  The Department of Labor prohibits workers under the age of 18 from working in occupations deemed hazardous.  For example, young workers under18 are banned from working in coal mines and are not allowed to operate balers, compactors, power-driven woodworking machinery, hoists, metal-forming, punching, and shearing equipment. 

OSHA has a section on their website dedicated to Young Workers that posts these alarming statistics:

  •  Every 9 minutes, a U.S. teen gets hurt on the job
  •  There were 106,170 young workers injured in 2011
  • 331 young workers were killed in 2011

Clearly, young workers have rights on the job and employers have an obligation to provide a safe workplace so youths have a safe and rewarding work experience. 

For more information on rules pertaining to young workers check out the Dept. of Labor’s Youth Rules! website.