We have already given you Five Reasons to Take Control of your Inventory Audit Cycle, but numbers two and three on the list—safety and equipment repair—are so important, they are worth a deeper discussion. Equipment in the field can quickly turn into a liability if repairs are not consistently made. It all depends on how diligent a pole owner is in keeping the myriad of parts and pieces in good working order.
Beyond simply getting the most out of your company’s physical assets, safety is the most pressing reason for ensuring all equipment is up to code and performing effectively. Seemingly small things have a tendency to turn into big problems if left unattended. Those small things are also the items that are often overlooked. As a reminder and a call to maintain best practices when it comes to your equipment in the field, we present six common repairs that pole owners should consider before small issues turn into complex problems or liabilities.
1. Dangling Devices
Damaged or broken equipment hanging on poles as a result of accidents or mechanical failure may cause clearance issues for cars or present dangerous situations for pedestrians. Removal of broken or unused equipment is key to public safety. While the majority of the time the offending object belongs to an attaching company or pole owner, occasionally a “natural” obstruction will find its way onto wires. If you conduct a field audit, you NEVER want to find something like this on your poles.
2. Cast-off EquipmentThere is a long list of reasons why reducing abandoned equipment is a good idea, but one further reason is that items left behind may be stored incorrectly. From equipment tied to a fence to wires wrapped loosely at the base of a pole, piled up, cast-off items can cause pedestrian hazards, trip walkers and runners, snag bicycle parts and obstruct sidewalks for parents pushing strollers or individuals in wheelchairs.
3. Loose LashingIn San Diego in 2013, loose fiber-optic cable lashing came in contact with a power line, sparking a fire that caused millions of dollars of damage to the city and spawned a $27 million dollar payout from the utility. As such, loose lashing is the loose cannon of the utility pole world and should be paid special attention on repair rounds
4. Ungrounded WireUtility poles are required to have a ground wire attached and driven into the surrounding earth to direct excess electricity in the event of a lightening strike. Unfortunately, ground wires are often broken or damaged, which poses a potential threat to the public. Theft can also be an issue, as these wires may be made of desirable copper. In a field audit, one rural Indiana utility found that 62 of its poles had copper grounding wire stolen—cut right off the poles—a tally that eventually added up to 100 poles with stolen grounds in four years.
5. Un-bonded Guy ReinforcementBonding and grounding go hand-in-hand to create a safe outlet for live current. Improperly bonded guy reinforcement puts dangerous electrical energy right at street level, and can create an energized strand that poses a serious threat to the passing public.
6. Missing Guy GuardsGuy wires that reach into sidewalks and streets are difficult to detect from a moving vehicle, while walking or riding a bicycle, and thus should feature visible, reflective guy guards. Pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists have been seriously injured and in some cases killed due to guy wires not being protected, and accidents have created a few dangerous and dramatic situations, such as the 1986 Mercury that “climbed” a guy wire in Macon, Georgia earlier this year. 
Fix it, but Do Not Forget it
Once safety and equipment issues are detected, pole owners should remedy the situation as soon as possible, but continual survey, recording and remediation of broken equipment, hanging devices, unguarded guys and other dangers must be made a part your ongoing maintenance process. Conducting field audits of all poles, attachments and equipment and then entering vital information, including repair attempts and timetables, into a robust joint use management program can keep the process of find and fix going strong year round.