PET Lab team helps thousands work safely

​​​​​​More than 50 years ago, LCRA started the important job of testing safety equipment used by its utility line workers to make sure it kept employees safe. Today, LCRA’s Protective Equipment Testing (PET) Lab still tests high-voltage safety tools and gear for employees, but it also provides services to external customers like electric cooperatives, municipalities, Dow Chemical Co., Exxon Mobil Corp. and NASA.

Tyson Avis, Protective Equipment Testing Lab supervisor, performs dielectric tests on high-voltage rubber insulated gloves to ensure they stand up to the maximum possible voltage on which they could be used.​

Alan Moreno, a tester for LCRA’s Protective Equipment Testing Lab, checks a high-voltage rubber insulated glove for damage. The lab tested more than 16,000 gloves last year.​

​”The items we test are used by electrical workers near energized lines, substations or other high-voltage equipment to protect against electric shock – mostly hot sticks, protective grounds, and rubber insulated gloves, sleeves and blankets,” said LCRA PET Lab Supervisor Tyson Avis. “Our lab is one of only four in Texas accredited by North American Independent Laboratories.”

Last year, the PET Lab team of five employees tested 27,445 items. Making up the bulk of those items were rubber insulated gloves – more than 16,000 of them. The gloves go through a process that includes washing, dielectric testing and a thorough visual inspection.

The PET Lab is in the process of taking its services on the road to provide on-site testing for faster and more convenient service for both LCRA crews and external customers. The team plans to finish outfitting a trailer with a dielectric testing machine, washer and dryer this spring.

These employees make safety a top priority every day – for themselves and countless other Texans.

“When you are driving down the road and see crews in bucket trucks working on utility lines using equipment that you tested, it gives you a sense of pride,” said Tyson, a 15-year LCRA employee. “You can connect a person’s safety directly to the piece of equipment you inspected, and it brings home the importance of making sure we have done a thorough check to ensure each item will provide the personal protection needed.”

He said the testers mentally put themselves in the shoes of the people who will be using the equipment.

“If there is ever a doubt in any technician’s mind questioning whether a piece of equipment should pass or fail, we always ask ourselves if we would feel safe wearing it,” said Tyson. “We put safety first every single day.”​

Source: LCRA Business News

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