A story that ran in our CompNewsNetwork area earlier this week really demonstrated that training in and of itself is not the only element needed to produce a safe and healthy work environment. The training needs to maintain a certain quality, and cannot itself be based on careless, haphazard standards. It turns out training should actually involve doing the job the right way.

Such was the case for a Nevada electric company trainee, who was killed while being trained as a lineman. He died after falling 75 feet from a “temporary horizontal ladder used as a platform between a transmission tower and a live 500-kilovolt transmission line”.

OSHA has fined the company who employed him for numerous violations. It seems  gloves and conductive suits had holes and tears. Fall arrest equipment did not meet required safety rules. Ladders and platforms were used improperly, and the company failed to meet fall protection rules applicable to power transmission lines, which require trainees to use fall protection equipment any time they work more than 4 feet above the ground – sort of like training wheels for those learning the ropes, so to speak. There was one more violation, which happens to be my personal favorite; The company failed to provide “properly fitting personal protective equipment for each worker”. Apparently something called “conductive booties”, which are designed to help prevent exposure to transient electrical shock and falls, were too small, so they were “modified” by cutting off the top portion and securing it to the work boots with tape.

And remember, this all happened while the man was being shown how to do the job.

Sounds like this company could use a few “Train the Trainer” sessions. I would suggest management should go through those as well, as these types of problems generally do not occur in a vacuum. They are likely indicative of a wider corporate culture that has not embraced the urgency associated with maintaining an injury free workplace. 

The company is facing proposed fines of $43,000.

Trainees are supposed to learn the proper way to perform a job, and training should incorporate the highest of standards. It should not be focused on training people to do things the wrong way. Company’s that get that largely avoid the issue of injury and death that occurred here. It makes both economic and moral sense. 

After all, your training program should not include a chapter on how to die. 

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