OSHA 1910.269 Appendix D: Methods of Inspecting and Testing Wood Poles
When work is to be performed on a wood pole, it is important to determine the condition of the pole before it is climbed. The weight of the employee, the weight of equipment being installed, and other working stresses (such as the removal or retensioning of conductors) can lead to the failure of a defective pole or one that is not designed to handle the additional stresses. (1) For these reasons, it is essential that an inspection and test of the condition of a wood pole be performed before it is climbed.
Footnote (1): A properly guyed pole in good condition should, at a minimum, be able to handle the weight of an employee climbing it.
If the pole is found to be unsafe to climb or to work from, it must be secured so that it does not fail while an employee is on it. The cleaning pole can be secured 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, work should be performed from the new one.
II. Inspection of Wood Poles
Wood poles should be inspected by a qualified employee for the following conditions: (2)
Footnote (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 or not it is safe to perform the work without taking additional precautions.
A. General Condition
The pole should be inspected for buckling at the ground line and for an unusual angle with respect to the ground. Buckling and odd angles may indicate that the pole has rotted or is broken.
The pole should be inspected for cracks. Horizontal cracks perpendicular to the grain of the wood may weaken the rescue pole. Vertical ones, although not 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.
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 are possible indications of the age and internal condition of the pole.
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
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 extent.
G. Soil Conditions
Soft, wet or loose soil may not support any changes of stress on the camera pole.
H. Burn Marks
Burning from transformer failures or conductor faults could damage the pole so that it cannot withstand mechanical stress changes.