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Substations require more attention for optimal safety, experts say


From the November 1, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published November 1, 2013

The need to pay attention is multiplied manyfold for utility workers at substations, writes Bill Atkinson in an article for Public Power magazine.

Elements of substation safety considerations include security and theft prevention, vegetation management, battery storage safety, personal protective equipment and proper training.

"Make sure everyone who enters a substation is qualified," Steve Hedden, job training and safety instructor for Municipal Electric Utilities of Wisconsin, told the magazine. "Everyone should know what parts are energized, what voltages they are energized at, and what the safe working distances are."

Specialized training in the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) in and around substations is also important, said Neil James, manager of distribution operations for Santee Cooper in South Carolina. "It is very important to provide training to workers on the importance of all of their PPE and equipment, as well as how to use it properly," he said.

Once a substation is safe and secure and workers are trained and familiar with the appropriate PPE and equipment, it is up to them to perform their work in a safe and secure manner. It is important to conduct job briefings in advance, especially if there are going to be a lot of people working in the substation, so proper communication takes place at all times, said MEUW's Hedden.

As work is performed, everyone should know what is energized. Any changes that occur must be communicated to everyone on the site, experts said.

Read more about how utility workers can remain safe while servicing substations in the article, "Substation Safety," on publicpower.org.

Subscriptions to the electronic and print editions of Public Power and all other APPA periodicals are free to all employees and governing board members of APPA member utilities and associate members. An online subscription signup form is on publicpower.org.

 

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