When employees are to perform work on a wood pole, it is important to determine the condition of the pole before employees climb it. The weight of the employee, the weight of equipment to be installed, and other working stresses (such as the removal or retensioning of conductors) can lead to the failure of a defective pole or a pole that is not designed to handle the additional stresses.1 For these reasons, it is essential that, before an employee climbs a wood pole, the employer ascertain that the pole is capable of sustaining the stresses of the work. The determination that the pole is capable of sustaining these stresses includes an inspection of the condition of the pole.
If the employer finds the pole to be unsafe to climb or to work from, the employer must secure the pole so that it does not fail while an employee is on it. The employer can secure the pole by a line truck boom, by ropes or guys, or by lashing a new pole alongside it. If a new one is lashed alongside the defective pole, employees should work from the new one.
II. Inspecting Wood Poles
A qualified employee should inspect wood poles for the following conditions: 2
A. General condition. Buckling at the ground line or an unusual angle with respect to the ground may indicate that the pole has rotted or is broken.
B. Cracks. Horizontal cracks perpendicular to the grain of the wood may weaken the pole. Vertical cracks, although not normally considered to be a sign of a defective pole, can pose a hazard to the climber, and the employee should keep his or her gaffs away from them while climbing.
C. Holes. Hollow spots and woodpecker holes can reduce the strength of a wood pole.
D. Shell rot and decay. Rotting and decay are cutout hazards and possible indications of the age and internal condition of the pole.
E. Knots. One large knot or several smaller ones at the same height on the pole may be evidence of a weak point on the pole.
F. Depth of setting....