Founding members of the Strategic
Safety Partnership are, top row from left, William Koertner,
MYR Group; Rod Henkels, Henkels & McCoy; Mark Ayers, IBEW;
Chuck Kelly, Edison Electric Institute; and John Grau, NECA.
Bottom row from left are George Salem, Akin Gump; Eric Pike,
Pike Electric; John Colson, Quanta Services; John Henshaw,
OSHA; Ron Skarphol, Utility Services; and Dennis Morikawa,
IBEW Joins Industry Groups, OSHA For Safety
October 2004 IBEW Journal
Safety on the job has been a priority for
IBEW members since the brotherhood was formed more than 100
years ago. Back in 1891, one of two line workers died on the
Things have greatly improved since then, but the business
of building and maintaining distribution lines, transmission
lines and substations is still risky. Thats why the IBEW,
the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), the
Edison Electric Institute (EEI) and the Occupational Safety
and Health Administration (OSHA) have formed the Strategic
Safety Partnership to reduce injuries and fatalities of workers
in the electrical transmission and distribution contracting
industry. A ceremony kicking off the partnership was held
at the U.S. Department of Labor on Friday, August 20. IBEW
Construction and Maintenance Department Director Mark Ayers
and Safety and Health Department Director Jim Tomaseski represented
the IBEW at the event.
"Our members learn early that a safe work environment
and a strong emphasis on safety procedures are one of the
hallmarks of the IBEW," said IBEW International President
Edwin D. Hill. "This partnership is one more step we
can take to make a dangerous line of work significantly safer."
Hazards abound at distribution and transmission construction
sites, with members working with extremely high voltage overhead
and buried power lines. Fatal electrocution is the main risk,
but burns and falls from elevation are also hazards. Tools
of the trade like trucks, ladders or scaffold can also increase
the risks when they come into contact with power lines.
Working with the IBEW, OSHA, NECA and individual contractors,
the coalition aims to anticipate, identify, evaluate and control
such safety hazards. They will share information on lessons
learned and best practices and publicize their findings through
training criteria and materials. To maximize the success of
the effort, participants have vowed to put aside competing
differences for the goal of providing a safe and healthy workplace
for workers in the industry. It is anticipated other contractors
will join, which will increase the partnerships influence.
Five of the countrys largest contractors belong to the partnership,
including Pike Electric, Quanta Services, Utility Services,
Inc., Henkels & McCoy and the MYR Group.
Standardizing safe work practices is even more important
in todays highly mobile society. "This partnership will
help unify standards and promote a better understanding of
training needs and requirements that are most important to
this industry," said Dan Pigott of Henkels & McCoy,
which employs several thousand IBEW members across the country.