to Success with VPP
Allegheny Energy, one of the eastern region’s biggest energy suppliers, provides electric service to over 1.5 million customers in communities located in Pennsylvania (PA), West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia, by operating 20 power plants with a generating capacity close to 9,700-megawatts (MW). With the power output being close to 95 percent coal, nearly 90 million tons of northern Appalachian coal is used by Allegheny Energy per year. Under the implementation of electric deregulation, a portion of the Allegheny Energy’s generating assets were transferred to Allegheny Energy Supply through state-approved plans.
Allegheny Energy Supply owns and operates the LM6000 Group which consists of three Combustion Turbine (CT) facilities located in Chambersburg, Gans, and Springdale, PA. Each facility has two highly efficient 44-MW simple cycle natural gas CTs and each unit provides enough electric power to light approximately 40,000 homes in the region. These units were designed to meet short duration-peak power demands. The LM6000 units are fueled by clean burning natural gas and can be brought online to full load within 10 minutes. Each unit is operated either locally by the three site-specific CT Specialists or remotely from a control room at the Springdale facility.
Besides all operations, maintenance, and environmental activities that occur at the three sites, the CT Specialists; Regional Director; Production Manager; and Safety, Health, and Training consultant are responsible for all safety activities as well. The LM6000 Group was first recognized as an OSHA Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) Star participant on August 25, 2004. Their VPP status was reapproved on December 12, 2007.
LM6000 Group’s Worker Involvement the Safety and Health Management System Leads to Many Positive Results
One of the core elements of the VPP is worker involvement. Since the LM6000 Group began the application process to VPP, workers have been involved in safety improvement processes. Workers seized the opportunity to provide their feedback to management on safety to help ensure they return home safely at the end of their workday.
As a result of being involved in the facilities’ safety and health management system, contributions by the LM6000 workers include the development of best safety practices. For example, management recognized the importance of having workers’ buy-in on the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) used on the job, increasing the likeliness of workers wearing it when and where it is required. Previously, workers were required to wear arc flash protective clothing while conducting switching operations in the LM6000 switch yards. The arc flash protective clothing tended to be very hot, and at times, the arc flash hoods that were worn over the head fogged up making workers’ vision difficult. Workers attended a Voluntary Protection Programs Participants’ Association (VPPPA) regional conference and identified a power ventilated arc flash hood that would minimize fogging issues and help keep workers more comfortable while performing switching operations. Management asked workers to identify, evaluate, and recommend the best powered ventilated arc flash hoods to use which were then purchased.
During engine removal, workers were previously required to remove a steel column from the middle of a doorway which weighs approximately 350 pounds and two doors rested against this column. Originally, the column was removed by the use of rigging and mobile equipment which potentially exposed workers to pinch-point, struck-by, and caught-between hazards. In addition, complicated rigging had to be utilized to assure the steel column was balanced and transported safely. Workers identified a new engineering control practice to help eliminate exposure to these hazards by attaching the steel column to one of the two steel doors where it can be easily be swung out of the way (clearing the opening for engine removal). This change eliminated the need to manually handle and use rigging equipment to remove the column which resulted in eliminating the previous hazards associated with completing this job. And finally, the LM6000 packages lacked identified fall protection anchorage points in areas where work was routinely performed. Workers identified several locations where vertical lifeline systems could be used to provide fall protection, and they worked with a fall protection vendor to have engineered fall protection systems installed.
Worker Involvement and Management Commitment Results in VPP Participant’s Flawless Days Away, Restricted, and Transferred (DART) Rate and Total Case Incident Rate (TCIR)
The LM6000 VPP Star sites have never experienced a recordable injury, illness, or fatality. Lance Zielinski, Regional Safety, Health, and Training consultant attributes their flawless injury and illness rates to management’s commitment to safety and health excellence and worker involvement. He stated:
"We have a philosophy of engaging our workers and
wanting them to be involved in the entire process, and if
you want them to remain engaged, you have to be
committed to acting on their ideas and recommendations."
The table below presents the LM6000 Group’s injury and illness rates since they received VPP reapproval in December 2007:
Origin: Region III, Springdale, Pennsylvania
Entered VPP: August 2004; reapproved in December 2007
Industry Description (NAICS Code): Utilities – Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution (22111)
Workers: Approximately 4,000
Source (Date): Lance M. Zielinski, Safety, Health, and Training Consultant for Allegheny Energy Supply (LM 6000 Region); Danielle Gibbs, Program Analyst, OSHA National Office / October 2010