Substations are powerhouses of hazards and dangers. The utmost care has to be taken in these areas. There is no room for carelessness. Every substation has to comply with the guidelines given in the National Electricity Safety Code (NESC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the United States of America. It is imperative that workers are given regular training to avoid slip-ups. Communicating clearly and specifically can help alleviate potential dangers too. Even though most safety precautions stem from practical learning and common sense, there may be some that get overlooked but are equally important to be taken care of. Here is a list of some commonly overlooked precautions.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Every substation hands over protective clothing to their employees. Gloves, safety glasses, face masks, hard hats, steel-toed shoes, and chemical resistant clothing are the basic gears that everyone has. Apart from this, the facility must have scaffoldings, rescue equipment and gas detectors for the safety of everyone.
There is no point in having adequate safety gear if the employees don’t know how to use it. Conducting drills every 2 weeks is very important. Hand out manuals to everyone and conduct mini tests every now and then. Every worker must understand the safety threats that the facility poses. They must know how to maintain and use the equipment provided to them.
When they are new they must be given a detailed orientation of all the machines and equipment, and periodic tests must be conducted. They must know that they always have to be cautious around all equipment even de-energized ones. Workers must be very knowledgeable about servicing all parts, even the small ones.
Cleaning equipment and maintenance is a huge part of substations. Bill Johnson from UtilityService.net explains that when materials build up on the surface of a high voltage insulator, its insulating components are diminished. Everyone employed in a substation must have specialized knowledge about spotting parts that are in extra need of servicing.
Secure the perimeter with fencing to keep out trespassers and stray animals. When securing the inside, one may forget that securing the facility from outside threats is important too. Make sure that all the equipment which is not in the building has a protective covering on it. Install fences either metallic or non-metallic to keep out unauthorized personnel. Put up sign boards so that people don’t enter the premises by mistake.
The approved height by the NSEC is seven feet or more of walls and fences around enclosures. This wall can be made of both barbed wire and fencing material to achieve the height.
Any personnel and vehicles entering the area must be thoroughly scrutinized for hazardous materials and briefed about safety. Substations are not meant for visitor access and anyone who does have to enter must be thoroughly cautioned. Personnel must be accompanied by someone and have all the prescribed PPE. If vehicles are gaining access to the substation then the authorities must ensure that the vehicle is below all lines and equipment in the building. The vehicle must have clearance before it can proceed. Vehicle drivers must have someone from the station accompanying them inside.
Substation equipment is unique to substations and it may find its way into substations for storage. Even though this sounds practical, it’s not and poses quite a few risks to the people inside. It increases footfall into the facility as the equipment will be shifted around. It also increases the risk of thieves looking out for expensive equipment and parts. Besides this, not everyone is aware of the intricate hazards and dangers in substations. It is advisable not to use substations for storage because it is too dangerous.
All battery stores must be cordoned off to everyone except just a few even in the pool of workers. Chemical hazard is great in battery stores and only very specialized personnel must enter. Ensure that these areas are well ventilated, and have regular maintenance. This helps to replace batteries that are out of order and replace faulty fittings. Any gas, acid and caustic leaks will come to attention in due time.
A substation is one of the most dangerous facilities in the world. The high energy and chemical hazards and dangers make it fatal if there is even a little breach of security. Even a shred of carelessness can spiral out of control. In such a controlled environment it is extremely important that supervisory staff is present at all times.