Lack of Test and Treat Maintenance Programs for Poles

May 26, 2017 - Is this what the inside of your pole looks like?

Recently, a safety incident occurred wherein a telephone pole fell across a major street and into traffic in the greater Edmonton area. USW Local 1944 members were performing work on this pole at the time the incident occurred. While no injuries were reported, it was established that the members involved were not trained to perform the work assigned by their supervisor and undertaken by themselves.

USW Local 1944 would like to remind members that not all employers are legislated the same. Your local power authority is typically provincially regulated and generally has prescriptive language regarding maintenance of their power poles. The application of this language is usually implemented in the form of a maintenance ‘test and treat’ program.    

Telecommunications providers however, are covered under federal regulations and the language is less prescriptive when compared directly to provincial regulations. Subsequently, this has led to some of Canada’s federally regulated telecom providers taking the position that there is no requirement for a ‘test and treat’ maintenance program for their aerial plant service poles. Specifically that “maintenance is subjective” because the relevant legislation and related regulations are not as prescriptive. The USW Local 1944’s Health and Safety Committee feels that while the term “maintenance” may validly be subjective under the Code, that concept does not reasonably extend to the idea of that maintenance being completely non-existent.   

The National Health and Safety Committee advises all USW Local 1944 members to engage their “Right to Know” and inquire with their immediate supervisors as to whether or not there is a ‘test and treat’ pole maintenance program in their area.

Remember: “The demands of the service or the importance of the job are never so great that we cannot do the job safely.” Stay safe at work.

The USW Local 1944 National Health and Safety Committee