By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS & REVIEW MAGAZINE
The St. Louis and Missouri Valley Chapters of NECA – the National Electrical Contractors Association – applaud OSHA’s decision to renew a national partnership with industry stakeholders to support best practices to underscore safety for electrical workers who build and repair high-voltage electrical lines.
On Oct. 30, OSHA officially renewed the Electrical Transmission & Distribution Partnership, which began in 2004 with a few stakeholder organizations and today includes 17 major electrical industry players from the private sector. It is the only national partnership between employers and OSHA, according to the agency.
Mitch Marquardt, a Sachs Electric retiree and industry consultant who represents NECA in the partnership, says that before the consortium launched 14 years ago, OSHA conducted a survey of lineman from across the U.S. to identify areas where updated training was most needed. OSHA also held live discussions with lineman from coast to coast, ascertaining specific areas of their jobs where they found themselves most at risk for serious injury or fatality.
“Over the years, the partnership and OSHA have worked in tandem to tweak best practices and stay current with the best training possible,” Marquardt said. “And in partnership with OSHA, we’ve developed additional lineman safety training courses such as the 10-hour and 20-hour programs on safety in line construction. The 20-hour includes emphasis on supervisory and leadership skills.”
The partnership has also developed an app that lineman can easily access from their smartphones, one that outlines a procedural safety checklist and reminders for those working to restore electrical power in emergency and non-emergency scenarios.
“One of the practical resources the app provided during Hurricane Michael in October were safety-related push notices,” Marquardt said.
Asplundh Tree Expert LLC Chairman and CEO Scott Asplundh, who is serving as chairman of the partnership’s executive committee, says the entity has made great strides in improving safety in the industry. “The renewal of this partnership for another five years is an opportunity to continue making improvements to our practices to keep people safe,” he said. “This collaboration among industry stakeholders is making a real impact for lineworkers across the country. Due to the best practices and training materials developed under our agreement, millions of workers have benefitted.”
In addition to OSHA, NECA and Asplundh Tree Expert, members of the ET&D Partnership include: Aldridge Electric, Davis H. Elliot Co., Edison Electric Institute, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, The Goldfield Corp., Henkels & McCoy Group, MasTec, MDU Construction Services Group, Michels Corp., MYR Group, PLH Group, Pike Electric and Quanta Services. For more information about the partnership, visit www.powerlinesafety.org