PLH GROUP NEWS
Harnessing Personal Protective Equipment
Date: July 18, 2021
PLH Group business units learn about how to properly fit a harness.
Year after year, study after study show alarming levels of personal protective equipment (PPE) noncompliance. When digging into the responses a little deeper, researchers found that workers blame comfort as the leading factor for not wearing PPE. But when PPE – which is a worker’s last line of defense – is properly selected and worn, it prevents worker injuries that span from lacerations to impact traumas and minor injuries to death.
Safety equipment manufacturers are aware of the hesitations some workers have with wearing PPE and are continually improving designs and providing more features, which encourage workers to always wear necessary PPE. These options allow workers to customize PPE to their fit, task, and work environment. Harnesses, which are common throughout PLH Group job sites, are critical safety components in preventing injuries from falls. However, in order for the harness to be effective, workers must also know how to choose the best one for the task.
“Our power line and pipeline work can get messy. That’s why we make it a routine part of our procedures to prepare the jobsite prior to the start of each shift. It is our responsibility to make sure our project sites are in a condition conducive to safe and efficient work,” said PLH Group Vice President of Safety, Health and Environmental Elsie Bentley.
These conditions include ensuring that:
- Walkways are clear of obstructions
- Tools and equipment are appropriately cleaned, stored, and secured
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) is routinely inspected and in good condition
- Spills or leaks are reported and adequately cleaned
- Combustible materials are properly stored away from potential ignition sources
- Excessive dust and dirt are removed to support traction
“We discuss cleaning the jobsite during our toolbox talks and pre-job briefs. We strongly believe that even the smallest housekeeping acts contribute to a safer jobsite,” said Elsie.
PLH Group crews do not only look out for one another, but they also respect the energy-focused projects their work supports. Routine housekeeping is part of supporting the safety efforts that lead to successful project delivery.
PLH Group business units provide energy-focused construction work throughout North America. It is not unusual for PLH Group employees to perform this careful electric power work at height, requiring the necessity of fall protection.
Air2 workers strap into harnesses prior to performing utility airborne construction, maintenance, repair, and testing operations. Pipeworx employees follow fall protection requirements for cold weather welding. Edison Power employees utilize harnesses while providing overhead high-voltage transmission line construction and maintenance.
All of these tasks and work environments require different types of fall protection to provide optimal safety.
PLH Group and its business units understand the importance of choosing the most appropriate harness while performing electric power work.
Four types of fall protection include:
- Personal Fall Arrest System – Safely stops workers from falling while working from height, such as with Power Line Service’s substation construction services.
- Positioning System – Allows workers to have both hands free while on an elevated vertical surface, such as Edison Power’s storm restoration work.
- Suspension System – Allows workers to lift and lower themselves while working on an elevated vertical surface, like during Air2’s airborne operations.
- Retrieval System – Provides prompt rescue in the event of a fallen worker.
Once the appropriate fall protection is determined, workers then need to consider harnessing options specific to the task. These factors include:
- Work Conditions – Webbing should provide proper protection (heat resistant, water resistant, etc.) and moveability for the task.
- Comfort — Especially for workers who work with a harness for a long period of time, comfort and reasonable harness weight are essential for proper fit. This ensures the worker is wearing the harness correctly and is not distracted by discomfort.
- Easy to Apply – Harnesses with padding, as well as those with quick connect buckles, make accessing, applying, and adjusting harnesses easier.
- Size – When it comes to harnesses, one size does not fit all. Appropriate fit is critical to the effectiveness of the harness.
- Support – Harness support must be factored into choosing which harness is best for the job. For example, PLH Group’s linemen need significant full-body support to reduce suspension stress.
- Dee-ring Placement – Intentionally placed dee-rings increase ease of use and accessibility.
- Condition – Workers should always inspect a harness before putting it on. If the harness appears damaged, it should be immediately removed and reported to a supervisor.
Though the harnesses that the different PLH Group business units need may vary, the dedication to fall safety is a constant throughout all of the organizations.
When it comes to personal safety, simply wearing PPE – including fall protection — is not enough. Workers must also appropriately choose and wear the correct PPE for it to be effective in providing the last line of defense against potential injuries.