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OSHA Methods of Inspecting and Testing Wood Poles

The OSHA Methods of Inspecting and Testing Wood Poles is a checklist that will help in ensuring that the pole is safe to climb or to work from. The employee performing the inspection must be qualified to make a determination as to whether it is safe to perform the work without taking additional precautions.
MaintainX
04/26/2021

OSHA Methods of Inspecting and Testing Wood Poles

12 steps
The OSHA Methods of Inspecting and Testing Wood Poles is a checklist that will help in ensuring that the pole is safe to climb or to work from. The employee performing the inspection must be qualified to make a determination as to whether it is safe to perform the work without taking additional precautions.
  • 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.

    • Pass
    • Flag
    • Fail
  • 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.

  • B.

    • Pass
    • Flag
    • Fail
  • C. Holes. Hollow spots and woodpecker holes can reduce the strength of a wood pole.

    • Pass
    • Flag
    • Fail
  • D. Shell rot and decay. Rotting and decay are cutout hazards and possible indications of the age and internal condition of the pole.

    • Pass
    • Flag
    • Fail
  • 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.

    • Pass
    • Flag
    • Fail
  • F. Depth of setting. Evidence of the existence of a former ground line substantially above the existing ground level may be an indication that the pole is no longer buried to a sufficient depth.

    • Pass
    • Flag
    • Fail
  • G. Soil conditions. Soft, wet, or loose soil around the base of the pole may indicate that the pole will not support any change in stress.

    • Pass
    • Flag
    • Fail
  • H. Burn marks. Burning from transformer failures or conductor faults could damage the pole so that it cannot withstand changes in mechanical stress.

    • Pass
    • Flag
    • Fail
  • Testing Wood Poles

  • The following tests, which are from § 1910.268(n)(3), are acceptable methods of testing wood poles:

  • A. Hammer test. Rap the pole sharply with a hammer weighing about 1.4 kg (3 pounds), starting near the ground line and continuing upwards circumferentially around the pole to a height of approximately 1.8 meters (6 feet).

  • The hammer will produce a clear sound and rebound sharply when striking sound wood. Decay pockets will be indicated by a dull sound or a less pronounced hammer rebound.

  • Also, prod the pole as near the ground line as possible using a pole prod or a screwdriver with a blade at least 127 millimeters (5 inches) long. If substantial decay is present, the pole is unsafe.

  • A

    • Pass
    • Flag
    • Fail
  • B. Rocking test. Apply a horizontal force to the pole and attempt to rock it back and forth in a direction perpendicular to the line. Exercise caution to avoid causing power lines to swing together.

  • Apply the force to the pole either by pushing it with a pike pole or pulling the pole with a rope. If the pole cracks during the test, it is unsafe.

  • B

    • Pass
    • Flag
    • Fail
  • 1 A properly guyed pole in good condition should, at a minimum, be able to handle the weight of an employee climbing it.

    • Pass
    • Flag
    • Fail
  • 2 The presence of any of these conditions is an indication that the pole may not be safe to climb or to work from. The employee performing the inspection must be qualified to make a determination as to whether it is safe to perform the work without taking

    • Pass
    • Flag
    • Fail

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