A group of employees at Southern California Edison (SCE) recently found an innovative solution to help fix and replace light bulbs and fixtures high above the ground at the utility’s facilities in California. The spring-loaded metal pole they found online could help reduce injuries among workers.
The SCE employees pitched the idea, and it is now being used in a light pole pilot program at the utility’s Redlands Mountainview facility. Once the pilot is completed, the program could be used companywide.
“Our lamping is either attached to the facility’s railing or affixed to somewhere else, so the thought was, the only way to change these out is to get on a ladder and wear fall protection, which is required,” said Neil Finch, an SCE instrumentation, controls and electrical worker.
However, that could soon change after Finch and his colleagues on the SCE L.A. Basin Safety Team discovered the spring-loaded metal pole. The metal pole allows workers to use their hand tools to pull down the light pole, change out a broken light fixture or burned-out bulb, raise the pole back up into the correct position and then lock it into place with an Allen wrench.
“The idea is to replace the traditional metal light pole with something like this that can be pulled down physically because it’s spring loaded. One pipe goes inside another pipe, like a pogo stick,” Finch said. “It allows you to pull it down to a height where you can actually reach the light bulb without getting on a ladder.”
Reducing the Need to Climb
SCE workers are still required to use a ladder and safety harness to reach the top of 120 traditional metal poles — about 8 ft to 9 ft tall — located in different places around the Redlands Mountainview facility and at other SCE properties.
But the safety hazards of reaching these lights could soon be a thing of the past, now that the spring-loaded pole has proven to be successful.
“The company that makes the spring-loaded poles gave us two to test in a pilot program,” Finch says. “Since the poles continue to work safely and effectively, SCE may replace the traditional poles at all facilities within the service territory.”
Finch and his colleagues recently won the “In the Field” category at the SCE Safety Triple-Crown safety awards event. The competition recognizes groups of employees who are focused on transforming the utility’s safety culture by helping SCE achieve its goal of an injury-free workplace this year. ♦
Reggie Kumar is the corporate communications advisor for Southern California Edison.