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John Joswiak November 02, 2020

Common Hazards Found in Essential Utility Work

With half a million U.S. workers employed in the utility and public works industries, reducing injuries in the workplace is an increasingly popular topic of discussion. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, many utility and public works subsectors report above average recordable incident rates, with public utilities leading the way with 5.3% 1. These injuries result in days away from the workplace and other job transfer or restriction implications.

 

Additionally, a 2019 survey2 of utility workers identified a need for greater employer investment in job-skill training and career development, a significant factor when it comes to preventing injury. Utility workers were 53% more likely than peer industries to express lagging employer investment in training, and 54% more likely to worry about injury as a result. Further highlighting a need for a spotlight on safety, due to the extensive, spanning infrastructure, these essential individuals often work alone and in isolated areas, extending response time when an accident resulting in injury occurs.

 

At Ansell, we strive to be a safety partner to identify hazards associated with common utility work tasks and applications. Increased understanding of on-the-job tasks and the related hazards leads to improvement in safety training, productivity, and the ability to equip workers with the appropriate PPE.

 

A key challenge to utility and public works achieving this goal is the diversity of these workplace applications and hazards. Workers consistently execute construction, maintenance and operating activities across power, water and other public service activities.  This puts them in harm’s way due to ever present cut, impact and abrasion hazards, as well as general ergonomic issues. Those working in power generating activities encounter electrical hazards, while those in water or sewage treatment may be exposed to harmful gas or chemicals. Therefore, we have compiled an easily referenceable chart for common tasks and the hazards utility workers may face.

 

Hazards in Utility and Public Works  

The above visual is a starting point to help identify appropriate PPE requirements and mitigate the risks of injury when encountering specific combinations of workplace hazards. Ultimately, when utility workers are properly equipped with the right safety solution, injury due to an encounter with these hazards can be reduced. By lowering the number of lacerations, crushed or broken bones, and burns from chemical or electrical arc flash incidents, we can lower the statistics for the utilities and public works industries.

 

At Ansell, we strive to be your valued safety partner on your path to safety leadership. That’s why we offer AnsellGUARDIAN®, our free consultative service to assist you with on the job hazard analysis and selecting the appropriate PPE to improve safety, increase productivity and reduce costs. Learn more about AnsellGUARDIAN® and our expansive portfolio of recommended PPE for the utilities and public works industries here.

 

 

 

1. 2018 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – based on trade, transportation and utilities supersector (Transportation is Federal, Utilities is Local) https://www.bls.gov/iag/tgs/iag40.htm

2. 360training.com, a provider of online OSHA and EHS training, surveyed more than 1,000 adults - https://www.tdworld.com/electric-utility-operations/media-gallery /20972680/top-five-safety-concerns-for-utility-workers