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 Post subject: Decline to work energized policy
PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2009 9:10 pm 
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Location: Lawrenceburg KY
I just finished with a meeting with a plant staff and I had told them that if a qualified worker did not feel comfortable doing the energized work ask of him or her they had ever right to refuse the job. They all laughed and said that was the persons job and the safety manager said the qualified worker must have a medical excuse to not do the job if ask. Another discussion was standing work permits and the qualified worker signing off as being trained and understanding and knowing how to do the job but when the time comes up the person refuses to do the job because they feel uncomfortable. How do you address such cases? Can or should a company discipline a qualified employee because they do not want to work on an energized job? I suppose it’s whatever the written policy is but it seems to go against the principles of electrical safety to state otherwise. I have a problem seeing a lot of electrically uneducated safety directors and plant staff members making major decisions with no ideal of the difficulties and complexities involved in electrical safety. Please help me am I going overboard either way?


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2009 11:41 am 
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THE CABLE GUY wrote:
I just finished with a meeting with a plant staff and I had told them that if a qualified worker did not feel comfortable doing the energized work ask of him or her they had ever right to refuse the job. They all laughed and said that was the persons job and the safety manager said the qualified worker must have a medical excuse to not do the job if ask. Another discussion was standing work permits and the qualified worker signing off as being trained and understanding and knowing how to do the job but when the time comes up the person refuses to do the job because they feel uncomfortable. How do you address such cases? Can or should a company discipline a qualified employee because they do not want to work on an energized job? I suppose it’s whatever the written policy is but it seems to go against the principles of electrical safety to state otherwise. I have a problem seeing a lot of electrically uneducated safety directors and plant staff members making major decisions with no ideal of the difficulties and complexities involved in electrical safety. Please help me am I going overboard either way?



Man I feel for ya, you are in a tough spot. I have seen this same situation at many plants, you are not alone.

1st thing, what types of energized work is being done? Can this work be "justified"? Energized work should be a rare thing and in order to do it you have to meet the criteria in the 70E for justification and than you need an EEWP.

On the EEWP you will see where 2 qualified persons must agree that the work can be done safely, they are the experts, they are the ones that determine if it can be done safely, not some "safety guy" with no clue about electricial systems.

OSHA has some intrptetation letters about refusal to do energized work, google those and show then to your safety guy.

Good luck, you are thinking right.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2009 10:53 pm 
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Location: Lawrenceburg KY
Thanks Zog

Thank you for your response. I am working with other companies in our organization to understand the arc flash or electrical safety compliance issue.

I have worked hard since 2005 and dedicated countless hours learning electrical safety not just arc flash but coordination, duty cycle and many other non arc flash issues that all relate to electrical safety.

What upsets me the most is executives that know business, not electrical business, call the shots and laugh at our professional opinion?
Thanks Zog, I am sure you have experienced this attitude on many level as I understand you have been doing this for a long time.. I will keep moving forward with the help of your senior knowledge and the experiences of others on this forum.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 8:01 am 
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I have found that showing them what the actual standard says, along with OSHA interpretation letters helps people like that change thier tune.

Most people think of the NFPA 70E as some sort of guide to working on energized equipment when actually it is just the opposite. There are very rare occasions when energized work is permitted.


Quote:NFPA 70E Article 130.1 Justification for work. Live parts to which an employee might be exposed shall be put into an electrically safe work condition before an employee works on or near them, unless the employer can demonstrate that deenergizing introduces additional or increased hazards or is infeasible due to equipment design or operational limitations.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 2:27 pm 
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Location: Louisville, KY
Electrical Safety Ignorance

In an electrical safety fatality a company (Fortune 1000) DID NOT train the direct supervisors of the maint/electricians. One night shift supervisor told a worker to open a bulging transformer during a hurricane (fall of 2008). The worker informed the supervisor he was not medium voltage qualified to do this work but he knew there was nothing he could do to fix a lightning struck medium transformer. The supervisor insisted and the worker complied. As the cabinet was opened the worker was killed in a flash/shock incident falling into the supervisor's arms. Two nearby maint folks confirmed the electrician's insistence he was NOT really qualified to do this and the supervisor's insistence that his employment depended on doing this to "keep us out of trouble with the plant manager in the morning". Because of this incident the plant was shut down for additional days, they have a major OSHA citation still in process AND the supervisor was fired and has pending criminal charges.

Of course, capricious failure to do your job can lead to dismissal but safety, supervisory and management workers should question their own knowledge when forcing workers to things they are uncomfortable with doing. This is a larger problem when you have "multi-skilled maintenance technicians" rather than qualified electricians.

The new requirements in NFPA 70E-2009 for demonstration of skill profeciency should make this more and more an issue.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 4:13 pm 
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Osha 1910.332(c)is very clear on who should be trained
I have found that some Supervisors would rather not have the training. They feel it will make them responsible. Well, like you just proved , they are responsible for knowing the job .


TABLE S-4. -- Typical Occupational Categories of Employees Facing a Higher Than Normal Risk of Electrical Accident

Occupation
Blue collar supervisors(1)
Electrical and electronic engineers(1)
Electrical and electronic equipment assemblers(1)
Electrical and electronic technicians(1)
Electricians Industrial machine operators(1)
Material handling equipment operators(1)
Mechanics and repairers(1)
Painters(1)
Riggers and roustabouts *** (1)
Stationary engineers(1)
Welders (1)
***A roustabout is a labourer typically performing temporary, unskilled work. The term has traditionally been used to refer to traveling-circus workers or oil rig workers.

Footnote(1) Workers in these groups do not need to be trained if their work or the work of those they supervise does not bring them or the employees they supervise close enough to exposed parts of electric circuits operating at 50 volts or more to ground for a hazard to exist.


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