The United States’ electrical grid is one of humanity’s most complex inventions. Maintaining the grid takes a lot of effort, which falls to professional lineworkers.
Many dangers in the profession can put individuals at risk. Here are the most common hazards lineworkers should know about.
Falls From Heights
Lineworkers are often tasked with climbing up tall structures to perform complicated procedures. A fall from that great height can leave the worker injured or worse—broken bones, head trauma, and death are all possibilities. Individuals must be adequately equipped to ensure they don’t fall while working.
Fall arrest systems are often employed to keep lineworkers safe while performing maintenance tasks. A safety strap attached to the equipment belt ensures workers have a fail-safe in case they slip.
Another common hazard lineworkers must be careful to avoid is electric shock. Working around live high-voltage currents can be dangerous if a worker isn’t adequately prepared. Sparks and arc flashes can occur, making it essential for workers to be equipped with the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times.
Insulated clothing should be worn in addition to helmets, gloves, and goggles, and specialized boots can protect the worker’s entire body against electrocution. It’s crucial for lineworkers to understand the differences between arc- and fire-resistant clothes to ensure they choose the proper gear to reduce the chances of physical harm.
Lineworkers must be willing to go out into all sorts of weather conditions in order to make repairs. When people lose power during a heavy storm or other significant event, they expect it to come back on as soon as possible. For lineworkers, this means putting themselves in harm’s way for the sake of their communities.
While a lot is expected of lineworkers, it’s still important for individuals to stay vigilant and be aware of any inclement weather changes. Strong winds, downpours, and lightning pose a significant risk to those working at heights. They should pay attention to the local forecasts and make their decisions to go out accordingly to stay safe.
One of the most significant risks that lineworkers face is from individuals on the road who aren’t paying attention. In many cases, workers operate in high-traffic areas where they risk getting struck or run over by a vehicle.
Repairing lines, fixing conductors, and replacing poles can take a lot of time and attention. Professional lineworkers need to have adequate control measures in place before starting work—this can be as simple as having someone on the ground directing the flow of traffic.
The role of lineworkers seems simple, but it couldn’t be more complicated. Working high-up on live electrical lines in dangerous weather or surrounded by traffic can be exceedingly dangerous. For lineworkers, knowing about these common hazards will help them prepare for any scenario.