SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON

46 COR 40-8159 [¶22,944R]

LOW-VOLTAGE ELECTRICAL SAFETY ORDERS – WORK PROCEDURES, ENERGIZED EQUIPMENT OR SYSTEMS, SUITABLE PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT AND SAFEGUARDS
Cal. Code Regs, tit. 8, § 2320.2(a)(3) (2019) – The ALJ correctly determined that the Division did not establish that Employer failed to ensure that approved insulating gloves were used by a lineman while performing work on exposed energized parts of an energized system. The employee was not engaged in work on exposed energized equipment at the time of the fatal injury accident.

LOW-VOLTAGE ELECTRICAL SAFETY ORDERS – WORK PROCEDURES, ENERGIZED EQUIPMENT OR SYSTEMS, SUITABLE BARRIERS OR APPROVED INSULATING MATERIAL
Cal. Code Regs, tit. 8, § 2320.2(a)(5) (2019) – The ALJ correctly determined that the Division did not establish that Employer failed to ensure that suitable barriers or approved insulating material was used by a lineman, to prevent accidental contact with energized parts, while performing work on an exposed energized system. The employee was not engaged in work on exposed energized equipment at the time of the fatal injury accident.

Digest of COSHAB’s Decision After Reconsideration dated May 15, 2019, Inspection No. 1116095.

Ed Lowry, Chair.

Judith S. Freyman, Board Member.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON – X-mod from Compline

Background. Following a fatal injury accident inspection, the Division issued three citations to Employer, an energy company providing residentaial and commercial service, alleging serious violations of: §3203(a)(4)(B), failure to identify workplace hazards, and §2320.2(a)(3) and §2320.2(a)(5), failure to provide and use suitable personal protective equipment when working on exposed energized equipment. Employer timely appealed. In a decision dated February 5, 2018 [¶22,810], the ALJ vacated the citations and set aside the proposed penalties. The Appeals Board took the ALJ’s decision under reconsideration on its own motion to address whether §2320.2(a) was violated.

The fatal injury accident occurred when Employer’s troubleshooting employee responded to a call concerning a brownout in a residential home serviced by Employer. After speaking with the homeowner, the employee climbed a secondary utility pole to assess the issue. He slipped before reaching Employer’s equipment at the top of the pole, fell and became entangled in a set of wires not controlled by Employer, and was fatally electrocuted. At the time of the accident, the employee was climbing the pole in order to assess the equipment, and did not have the tools necessary to complete the repair with him as he climbed.

Decision after reconsideration. Section 2302.2(a)(3) provides, “(a) Work shall not be performed on exposed energized parts of equipment or systems until the following conditions are met: …

“(3) Suitable personal protective equipment and safeguards (i.e., approved insulated gloves or insulated tools) are provided and used.

EXCEPTION: The use of approved insulating gloves or insulated tools or other protective measures are not required when working on exposed parts of equipment or systems energized at less than 50 volts provided a conclusive determination has been made prior to the start of work by a qualified person that there will be no employee exposure to electrical shock, electrical burns, explosion or hazards due to electric arcs.”

The Division cited Employer for failure to ensure approved insulating gloves were used by a lineman while performing work on exposed energized parts of an energized system. As a result, the employee who was not using approved insulated gloves suffered a fatal electrical shock.

Section 2320.2(a)(5) provides, “(a) Work shall not be performed on exposed energized parts of equipment or systems until the following conditions are met: …

“(5) Suitable barriers or approved insulating material shall be provided and used to prevent accidental contact with energized parts.”

The Division charged that Employer failed to ensure that suitable barriers or approved insulating material was used by a lineman to prevent accidental contact with energized parts while performing work on an exposed energized system. As a result, an employee who was not using suitable barriers or approved insulating material suffered a fatal electrical shock.

In order to establish a violation of §§2320.2(a)(3) or (a)(5), the Division must first establish that work was performed on exposed energized parts. There was no dispute that the employee was fatally electrocuted while climbing a secondary electrical pole. Eyewitness testimony established he was climbing an electrical pole in light rain when he lost his footing and fell backwards, becoming entangled in another set of wires. While the autopsy report established electrocution as the cause of death, no specific burn marks were located.

The Division contended the employee was changing or tightening connectors, i.e. that he was working on exposed energized parts without the appropriate tools or personal protective equipment. The Division’s safety engineer testified the employee may have been using a wrench to tighten a connector on the pole, but eyewitness and other testimony effectively rebutted the Division’s testimony. An eyewitness testified the employee was climbing the pole when he fell and became entangled in wires. Other testimony by Employer’s principal manager of grid operations established that tightening a connection was not a usual or customary work practice and that it would be much more likely the employee would have completely replaced faulty connectors if he had concluded they were the source of the brownout.

The Appeals Board credited Employer’s testimony over that of the Division’s safety engineer and concluded the employee did not have the tools on his person at the time of the accident to replace the connectors; his tools and insulated gloves were in his work vehicle. The evidence indicated the employee was on the pole, intending to conduct a visual inspection of the equipment, but slipped before reaching the equipment. Consequently, the employee was not engaged in work on exposed energized equipment at the time of the fatal injury accident.

The Division initially must show that work was performed on exposed energized parts or equipment in order to establish a violation of §§2320.2(a)(3) or (a)(5). (See Morrow Meadows Corporation, Cal/OSHA App. 12-0717, DAR (Oct. 5, 2016) [Digest ¶ 22,619R].) Consequently, the ALJ correctly dismissed the citations because the Division failed to make this showing. The Appeals Board affirmed that the Division failed to establish a violation of §§2320.2(a)(3) or  (a)(5).