The nature of transmission and distribution (TD work is highly dangerous and leaves workers with a very small margin for error. The TD sector consistently records a high fatality rate, more dangerous than any other sector in the construction industry.
To work safely requires a high situational awareness — the ability not only to detect and classify hazards, assess risk, and project potential outcomes but also to consider the dynamic nature of the work environment when making safety-related decisions. Yet there is very little guidance provided on measuring the skills necessary to detect and manage hazards in the TD work environment.
To date, there has never been a systematic empirical study that validates a tool to measure situational awareness among TD workers. The extent to which work-related, psychological, and social factors have a statistically significant influence on situational awareness among TD workers remains unclear. Given the uniqueness of the TD sector, there is no evidence to conclude that factors identified within general industry safety research translate directly to the TD sector.
In July 2019, The ELECTRI Council selected Dr. Siddarth Bhandari, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Construction Engineering, Western Michigan University as the recipient of the Early Career Award, named in memory of Professor Tom Glavinich, an early advocate of ELECRI International’s research agenda. His project, Measuring Situational Awareness Among Electric T&D Line Workers, will include designing an app-based survey, specifically for the TD sector, to measure situational awareness efficiently and effectively. The new tool will then be validated via a pilot field test.
A key project goal is to provide guidance on developing targeted strategies to improve TD training programs. In his research, Dr. Bhandari will identify and describe factors responsible for low situational awareness among TD workers. In addition to a thorough literature review, the initiative will
- Identify work-related psychological and social factors that influence situational awareness.
- Describe identified factors within the context of the TC sector.
- Test the survey tool to check reliability of measures.
- Prepare the final validated survey tool as an open- source app for companies to use.
- Propose a pathway for improved safety maturity.
- Propose improvement to safety training programs in collaboration with industry professionals.
- Propose validation protocols that could lay the foundation for future studies to further improve worker performance and training programs.
The completed report will be available from ELECTRI International in January 2020.
For information about ELECTRI International’s research agenda, visit www.electri.org/research or contact the Foundation at 301-215-4538.