Safety Hazards: Ensuring Fall Protection and Drivers' Safety

Safety Hazards: Ensuring Fall Protection and Drivers’ Safety

June is National Safety Month, and at Southwest Electric Co., we are fully committed to utilizing this opportunity to emphasize the critical importance of fall protection and drivers’ safety. As we all know, Health and Safety are vital parts of any working environment, and it is up to everyone to ensure we take the proper measures to stay safe. In this blog, we will explore a few topics that are considered high-level hazards.


Fall Protection

Earlier this year, Southwest Electric Co. participated in the 10th annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls at Work, an event to increase fall prevention awareness. We learned that falls continue to be the leading cause of death nationally, accounting for 37% of all fatalities in 2021.

At Southwest Electric Co., substation crews must regularly use fall protection while working inside a substation and on power distribution transformers. According to OSHA’s General Industry Standards, particularly the Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution regulations, fall protection is mandatory when working at elevated locations more than 4 feet. The specific tasks requiring fall protection systems may vary but typically include working on ladders, scaffolds, man lifts, and structures with unprotected edges.


4 Steps to Avoid Fall Injuries

It is important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Fall protection training, preplanning, and proper personal protective equipment (PPE) are essential for ensuring safety. Before starting any job, employees must follow the appropriate steps to avoid fall injuries:


1.) Pre-work Inspection

Conducting an inspection is a crucial part of the Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) as it helps to pinpoint potential dangers before starting work. While dealing with challenges at our manufacturing facilities, working outdoors at customer job sites can be even more demanding. This is because the anchor points for securing fall protection devices are not always easily accessible or identifiable.


2.) Communicate and Address Potential Risks

Discussing potential risks with crew members and customer representatives makes for a safer working environment, on-site or in the field. An example would be workers using components, such as conduits, for fall protection when they should be using certified anchor points specifically designed for this purpose. Each anchor point shall support 5,000 lbs. per worker attachment. The appropriate type of anchor selection depends on factors such as the industry, job site, and the nature of the work involved. In addition, anchor baseplates welded to the top of transformers vary, making it challenging for substation crews to attach a mast or pole. One way to address this is to inquire about the baseplate types before arriving at the job site. Having several different manufactured mast types may also be beneficial in preventing downtime.


3.) Inspect All Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

It is crucial to emphasize the importance of inspecting fall protection equipment, like full-body harnesses, lanyards, carabiners, rope grabs, and positioning gear. Regular inspections ensure their reliability, which could make a difference between life and death. Before each work shift, workers must check the assigned personal fall protection systems for mildew, wear, damage, and other signs of deterioration. They should remove and tag any defective components for safety. A competent person should also conduct a thorough inspection at least once a year. If the equipment has been subjected to impact loading, such as in the event of a fall, an interim inspection becomes necessary.


4.) Employee Training and Compliance

Southwest Electric’s safety rules and regulations require employees to complete safety training. Anyone who uses personal fall protection equipment and works in high-hazard situations must undergo fall protection training. Training and Compliance are crucial to ensuring our success. In 2023, Southwest employees completed approximately 3,000+ hours of safety training.


Fleet Safety

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), 44,450 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2023, a 4% decrease from 2022. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 40,990 people died in 2023, a 3.6% decrease from 2022.

In 2023, Southwest Electric drivers covered an impressive 1,023,385 miles without a single at-fault accident, a remarkable achievement, especially considering the prevalence of distracted drivers on the road. Several factors can contribute to our success. First and foremost, it starts with hiring the right employees with an acceptable Motor Vehicle Report (MVR) and no history of poor driving behavior.

Another important component of maintaining safe driving standards is to complete driver safety training upon hire and annual refresher training. Southwest Electric’s training program is tailored to keep drivers engaged while instilling safe driving knowledge to minimize accidents. This includes driving habits, defensive driving instruction, and avoiding potential accidents. Our mission is to educate all drivers to ensure they are ready for anything and return home safely after every shift.

Lastly, when discussing the importance of safe driving practices, it is essential to highlight telematics’ role in ensuring safety on the road. At Southwest Electric, we have been at the forefront of adopting telematics technology. We integrated electronic logging devices into our fleet vehicles almost two decades ago to comply with state laws and DOT regulations and enhance safety on the road. Initially, drivers used these devices for Hours of Service (HOS) compliance and pre-trip inspections. However, with advancements in telematics technology, these systems now offer real-time behavior monitoring and critical event reporting, significantly contributing to our drivers’ safety.



Identifying the most significant hazards is crucial and can take various forms. Pinpointing the ones posing high risks is essential to ensure systems are in place to provide a workplace free of known safety hazards. The implemented practices will prevent workplace injuries and boost employee morale, productivity, and job satisfaction.


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