When Hurricane Harvey hit CenterPoint Energy's and Texas New Mexico Power's service territories, the utilities called for help. One of the line contractors, L.E. Myers, deployed 33 workmen to Texas to provide mutual assistance for more than a week. Because L.E. Myers has a long history of working for the two host utilities, its crews were already familiar with their safety policies and procedures. Even so, the crews attended multiple safety meetings throughout the restoration effort.
“The day starts with a safety briefing and then as the crews move from site to site the foreman also discuss the dangers that are at the site and specific items to watch for,” says Aaron Stupec, district manager for L.E. Myers in Pasadena, Texas.
During these safety meetings, the leader covered any changes to the weather that took place while the crew was off from work. Also, they discussed any changes to the overall grid, and in particular, in the area where the crew was working. In addition, they covered access issues, the presence of any wildlife in the area, the hazmat heat index, and protection from backfeed from generators. The linemen also learned how to remove high-side fuses and cutout doors and deal with the complacency that often comes with working long hours for days on end.
Here are some tips Stupec shared with other linemen who are working in a flood-stricken area following a hurricane or other natural disaster.
1. Never go in fast moving water.
2. Be careful when approaching a bank to ensure that it won’t cave in.
3. Make sure everyone knows the plan before executing it.
4. Know who on the crew can and can’t swim.
5. Understand the importance of good footing while moving around in the water.
6. Be aware of underwater obstacles such as wildlife.