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By Randy Hurst
lineman safety standards

Lineman Safety Standards are designed to create a safer work environment for linemen and communication workers. It is an ongoing mission for those of us who serve on the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC), so it’s worthwhile to highlight changes embodied in Part 4 of the recently released 2017 edition.

Workers may familiarize themselves with these revisions and it’s important that employers align their safety programs with the Lineman Safety Standards and changes to them. It’s also beneficial when the public grasps that when linemen and communication technicians work safely, the public is safe.

The effort to protect workers and the public from electrical hazards has been ongoing for more than a century and we harness industry expertise to provide practical guidance in the NESC, which is published under the aegis of the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA).

Though we do not attempt to cover every “how to” or address every ‘what if,’ the NESC tries to identify the correct thing to do, the correct Lineman Safety Standards approach and the correct environment for safe, effective work practices. The latest revisions Part 4 were driven in part by a practical need to align the Code with rules adopted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and to clarify sometimes confusing OSHA language. With that background in mind, let’s look at what’s new in the 2017 edition.

Anyone who sometimes wrestles with the weighty, printed version of the NESC will be glad to learn that the IEEE-SA has created a mobile app to aid referencing the Code in the office or in the field. The NESC 2017 App includes the entire content of the printed Code with enhanced features such as the Code’s referenced diagrams, charts, drawings, formulas, equations and calculations and a dictionary feature for looking up terms. The app is a complimentary download to purchasers of the NESC 2017 and/or the NESC Handbook.

Safety matters
I currently chair the NESC’s Subcommittee 8 that addresses the Code’s Part 4 on Work Rules, so I’d like to draw attention to four areas that have been revised for the new, 100th anniversary edition of the Code: arc hazards, fall protection, minimum approach distances, and radio frequency exposure training.

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