By Paul Robbins
WAPA’s annual Fall Protection Train-the-Trainer meeting was held the first week of March in Boulder City, Nevada, and at the nearby Mead Substation. At this event, fall protection trainers and specialists from throughout the organization discussed and received updates on upcoming changes to the Fall Protection Program.
The changes are based on a review of equipment and safety standards published by both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the American National Standards Institute. Attendees discussed how the standards would affect guidance and changes to the Power System Maintenance Manual.
A third-party contractor presented a four-hour training course to attendees, examining the origins of fall protection and progress made over the years by OSHA and ANSI to protect employees. There was a hands-on segment allowing attendees to examine different types of fall protection and arrest equipment.
Participants were instructed on proper equipment use and what to evaluate during a safety inspection. They were then given the opportunity to show their own personal fall-arrest gear to the instructor, who inspected each piece of equipment and addressed important issues related to them.
Other topics included the effects of shock loading after equipment is engaged during a fall, actions that might render equipment unusable, common equipment misuse and misadjustments that might lead to incidents, injuries and fatalities.
The climbing portion of the event took place at the Mead Substation Training Yard. All attendees completed the climbing requirement, which included activities such as on-site equipment inspections, developing job hazard analyses and climbing structures typical of each craft. Attendees also performed self-rescue exercises and rescues of a weighted manikin from various climbing scenarios.
Safety and Occupational Health Manager Ed Crowson, who also serves as Fall Protection Committee chairperson, coordinated the event and was impressed by attendees.
“Our trainers and specialists are highly motivated and knowledgeable of their craft and fall protection equipment and requirements,” Crowson said. “Having these extremely qualified persons involved at the right level is enormously important to ensuring the success of the Fall Protection Program.”
Crowson added that those involved are innovative in resolving issues and implementing new approaches. This is important as they are directly responsible for ensuring that craftspeople entering WAPA’s workforce are properly trained and provided a safe work environment.
Several trainers returned to Mead Substation the following week to provide Initial Fall Protection Training to new employees. The new personnel were required to take the training in order to become qualified climbers. The initial training began with a detailed review of the Power System Maintenance Manual and was followed by a written test. The testing and discussion process ensured that new employees had a thorough understanding of WAPA’s Fall Protection Program.
After the new employees received instruction on craft-specific site safety and job hazard analysis briefings, they inspected and put on their fall protection equipment and climbed structures associated with their particular areas of expertise. Each craft also performed rescue and self-rescue procedures.
“I am impressed with the process that we have in place and the quality of all personnel involved,” Crowson said. “Our future goal is to continue on and expand on the quality of the experience for everyone involved.”
Note: Robbins is a technical writer who works under the Wyandotte Services contract.
WAPA linemen, electricians and electronic communications craftsmen are required to complete fall
protection training annually.