The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Strategic Partnership (OSP) with the Electrical Transmission and Distribution (ET&D) Construction Contractors, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), and the Edison Electrical Institute (EEI), was originally signed on August 20, 2004. The OSP was renewed on August 24, 2006 and September 16, 2008. The current agreement is in effect until September 16, 2010. This evaluation covers the period from January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2009.
The OSHA and ET&D OSP impacts approximately 75 percent of the ET&D industry. OSHA has joined with labor, industry representatives and trade associations to develop a common vision and commitment for industry worker safety and health through leadership, responsibility and accountability. The following parties are signatory to the OSP:
The success of the OSHA and ET&D OSP is due, in part, to the structure established to implement the agreement. The OSP’s Executive Team, made up of CEO-level management, meets approximately three to four times per year to approve OSP activities and products and to manage overall OSP implementation. The OSP’s Steering Team, made up of employer participants’ safety and health managers, meets approximately every four to six weeks, manages day-to-day operations of the OSP and serves as the liaison between the Executive Team and the Task Teams. Task Teams are groups of employees and supervisors who meet as needed to focus on specific OSP topics. There are currently four Task Teams: Data, Training, Best Practices, and Communication. The Task Teams are working groups assigned to analyze data, conduct research and apply the strategies set forth to meet the OSP goals.
The OSHA and ET&D OSP continues to demonstrate successes for the participants through a continual decrease in fatalities of partner workers; in Total Case Incidence Rates (TCIR); and in Days Away, Restricted, or Transfer (DART) rates.
By working on the OSP goals, OSP employer participants in Calendar Year 2009 succeeded in reducing the number of fatal accidents they experienced. The OSP reported two fatalities in 2009; which is a reduction of six partner fatalities in 2008. The fatalities in 2009 were as a result of electrocution by contact. As part of the OSP Agreement, only those partner fatalities resulting from ET&D line work are tracked for the purposes of the OSP and this evaluation.
OSP Injury and Illness Experience Compared to Industry Averages
Another measure of the OSP’s performance can be found by comparing its injury and illness rates to those of the Utility Construction Industry (NAICS code 237130) as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The Data Task Team coordinated with OSHA to analyze the OSP employer participants’ injury and illness data. The chart below reflects the OSP’s TCIR and DART rates from 2005 to 2009 and compares these rates to industry average rates for NAICS 237130 for those years published by BLS.
As the chart shows, injury and illness rates in the utility construction industry as a whole are trending downward. The OSP, in each year from 2005 through 2009, succeeded in achieving both TCIR and DART rates below the industry national average. Overall, the OSP’s participating employers have maintained injury and illness rates below that of the industry.
**The 2009 BLS injury and illness rates were not published at the time of this evaluation.
OSP Injury and Illness Rate Changes 2008-2009
OSP employer participants, as a group, achieved a TCIR of 2.95 in 2009. This figure represents a 27 percent decrease from its 2008 TCIR of 4.04. OSP employer participants, as a group, achieved a DART rate of 1.42 in 2009. This figure represents a 22 percent decrease from its 2008 DART rate of 1.81.
OSP Injury and Illness Rate Changes 2005-2009
OSP participants, as a group, have also reduced their average injury and illness rates when comparing rates from 2005 to 2009. In 2009, the OSP participants’ average TCIR of 2.95 was 57 percent below that of the OSP average TCIR of 5.18 in 2005. Similarly, in 2009, the OSP participants’ average DART rate of 1.42 was 56 percent below that of the OSP average DART rate of 3.21 in 2005. Compared to the TCIR and DART rates calculated for this industry by the BLS for 2008, the OSP rates were almost equivalent to the BLS averages.
The Training Task Team coordinates the training efforts for the OSP. Some of the duties of this Task Team include: developing training courses as needed to address the identified causal factors of accidents; tracking the training courses and promoting the OSP’s training efforts throughout the industry. The OSP developed and delivered training curriculum to ensure that workers, who frequently move among companies, receive consistent, quality training. Also the training identifies and shares best practices and information to prevent the occurrence of fatalities and injuries and establishes relationships that foster information sharing within the industry.
During 2009, the partners continued to conduct the Supervisory Leadership Outreach Skills Training Course (SLOT). This course is designed to help foremen/general foremen create a safe work culture on the job. The course attendees receive an OSHA training card for successfully completing each course. A total of 1,173 supervisors and managers were trained during the evaluation period. ET&D industry-specific OSHA 10-Hour Outreach Training Program courses were also conducted during the evaluation period. A total of 4,393 people were trained, including apprentices, journeymen, and foremen/general foremen.
In addition, the partners collaborated with OSHA to begin work on developing a proposal to utilize OSHA’s twenty-five Training and Education Centers as venues in which to conduct the ET&D industry-specific OSHA 10-Hour Outreach Training Program and ET&D Train the Trainer courses nationwide for partner and non-partner workers.
Best Practices Documents
The Best Practices Task Team coordinates the best practice efforts for the OSP. Some of the duties of this task team include: developing best practices through sharing safety and health information and consensus; communicating best practices to the OSP participants and field personnel and implement methods to monitor and track best practice implementation.
The Best Practices Task Team began to develop a new Best Practices document, “Safety at Heights - Fall Protection on Wood Poles” which will describe methods to reduce and/or eliminate injuries and fatalities caused by fall hazards. It is anticipated that the “Safety at Heights - Fall Protection on Wood Poles” Best Practices document will be completed and possibly implemented during 2010. When completed, the Best Practices document will be posted on the ET&D OSP participants’ web site, PowerlineSafety.org.
Effective communication among the partners has facilitated the development and implementation of eight Best Practices documents since 2005. Tracking the implementation of these Best Practices documents will be the focus of the OSP in 2009-2010.
Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP)
While no OSP participant employers submitted applications to participate in VPP during the evaluation period, the three MYR Group, Inc. subsidiaries continue to be recognized as Star participants in the VPP Mobile Workforce for Construction Program.
In addition, one MYR Group, Inc. employee successfully completed the VPP Special Government Employee (SGE) qualifications in 2009.The SGE Program allows industry to work alongside OSHA during VPP onsite evaluations.
Other Partnership Results
Further, OSHA staff and OSP participants worked together to develop an OSHA Form 170 supplemental document in 2009. The OSP participants will use the information obtained from this form to support meeting the OSP’s goal of collecting more substantive fatality and serious accident data for use in analysis and identification of areas to develop and disseminate best practices documents.
Through the OSHA and ET&D OSP, OSHA staff, and the employer, labor, and the trade association participants continued to build on the excellent working relationship they established since signing the first agreement in 2004. The OSHA and ET&D OSP produced positive results in 2009 and the participants remain committed to work towards achieving the OSP goals in 2010. The OSP participants plan to use data from the partner OSHA 300 Logs to analyze individual partner’s injury and illness experiences. Causal factors of non-fatal, lost time incidents will be identified through the analysis. Based on this review, the OSP participants will develop and share Best Practices documents and training to address the hazards found and thereby assist in reducing severity and frequency of these types of injuries and illnesses. Based on the successes realized by the OSHA and ET&D OSP, OSHA and the other OSP signatories plan to pursue development of an OSP renewal agreement in 2010.