Understanding How to Protect Utility Workers
The utilities industry can undoubtedly be a dangerous one. WFLA News 8 recently reported that a witness’s dash cam recorded video of a utility worker who went flying after a truck hit the bucket he was in as he repaired a traffic signal on a busy Houston highway. The witness told reporters that the worker dangled “upside down and sideways” in his safety harness and was almost hit by a bus after the truck hit the worker while he was in a bucket working on a traffic signal. Miraculously, the worker managed to walk away from the crash without incurring serious injuries.
What is the Utilities Sector?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over half a million Americans currently work in the utilities industry. These include employees in these industries:
- Electric power
- Natural gas
- Steam supply
- Water supply
- Sewage removal
However, the specific activities associated with each of the professions within the utility services sector vary by utility. For example, electric power includes generation, transmission, and distribution while natural gas only includes distribution and steam supply gives the option of provision and/or distribution. In addition, the water supply industry encompasses activities like treatment and distribution and, unsurprisingly and thankfully, the sewage removal industry includes the collection, treatment, and disposal of waste through sewer systems and sewage treatment facilities.
What Are Common Sources of Utility Workplace Injuries?
- Structural failure
- Heat-related exposure
- Transportation accidents
- Falls from an elevated level
- Becoming caught on equipment
- Electrocutions and electrical shocks
- Ejections from a lift platform or bucket
- Contact with falling or overhead objects
What Can Utility Workers do to Help Increase Their Safety?
- Attend required safety trainings.
- Read the manual for issued equipment before usage.
- Properly strap yourself into your harness and other protective gear.
- Pay attention to the weather report and dress accordingly.
- Always inspect your work equipment for loose pieces and missing parts.
- Look out for visible fluid spills especially flammable ones such as oil.
- Utilize the equipment and techniques you’ve been trained on.
- Keep an eye out for falling objects and obvious hazards.
- Always keep on your helmet, harness, and/or other protective gear.
- Put up signs to warn others of dangerous conditions.
- Make sure that access gates and openings are closed.
- Never climb or lean over the handrails or guardrails.
- Do not use ladders or similar devices as a working position.
- Keep your feet firmly on the floor of any kind of lifting equipment.
- Ensure that you account for your equipment when calculating what you have to lift.
Have You Been Injured at Your Workplace in the Utilities Sector?
If you are a utility worker who has suffered a workplace injury, you should not attempt to negotiate any kind of workers’ compensation benefits without appropriate legal help. The Miami workers’ compensation attorneys at Payer & Associates have significant experience helping people like you and you should allow us to help you get the benefits you deserve. Begin by contacting us today to schedule a free consultation.