Choctawhatchee Electrical Cooperative line crews now use upgraded safety restraints to prevent falls from wooden poles.
“We have used similar gear for several years,” explained Vice President of Operations Donny Fugate. “In fact, our last two apprentice groups have used it from the beginning, but as with any product, improvements have been made to enhance its effectiveness.”
The new equipment provides a double strap that makes a locking circle around the pole and secures the climber in position. Unlike the earlier version, it also provides a secondary restraint that is used if the climber needs to disconnect the main strap from the pole, ensuring the climber never lacks support.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration next year will mandate the upgraded safety restraints, which protect workers from falling more than 2 feet when performing aerial tasks. However, CHELCO will begin using the upgraded gear immediately whenever climbing is required. “Most of our work is done from a bucket truck, but there are times when our guys have to climb poles to get the job done,” Operations Supervisor Marc Hart said.
CHELCO is a not-for-profit electric distribution cooperative serving more than 49,000 accounts in Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes and Santa Rosa counties.