Electricity has become such an ingrained part of our daily lives, and yet it is still incredibly dangerous when not treated with respect and proper safety procedures.
When a storm or disaster hits, we praise our first responders, the police, fire and rescue crews, health care workers and emergency management professionals who help keep us safe.
However, there is one team of heroes, who are often overlooked, the electrical and cable linemen who work to restore vital services like electricity and internet to homes and businesses.
IN THE LINE OF FIRE
These unsung heroes are called out after (and sometimes during) a major storm. Because of the need to restore power, they must quickly go out to make repairs, often in dangerous conditions while working on high towers, in crane buckets, on poles, or in confined spaces. Then consider that they’re working with power lines carrying an average of up to 345,000 volts or more of electricity on a daily basis. This has consistently made electrical linemen one of the highest risk professions in the U.S.
Need proof? In past years, electrical line workers have had an annual fatality rate of roughly 20 per 100,000, often putting them on the list of the ten most dangerous jobs in America. While the industry has worked to improve its safety record over the past few years the 2016 fatality rate was still hovering at 14.6 per 100,000. That’s the same rate as Police and sheriff’s patrol officers.
More than that, non-fatal injuries average around 2,500 each year, and almost 45% of those injuries keep them off the job for 31 days or more.
PUTTING SAFETY ON THE LINE
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, these fatalities and injuries are due to:
- Confined spaces
- Fires and explosions
- Sprains, strains, and fractures
- Environmental Stress
Linemen take safety seriously. The problem is that often the steps required to stay safe are often at odds with the conditions they work under.
Linemen are instructed to always be aware of their surroundings, to work in teams and take their time. These simple steps can often mean the difference between coming home safely and getting injured or worse on the job.
The problem is that when crews are stretched thin, need to work long hours in difficult conditions and face demands from their supervisors and the public to restore power as quickly as possible, basic safety protocols can fall by the wayside.
For this reason, having the right safety gear is critical. Gear should always include:
- Insulated gloves
- Boots with insulation and good treads
- Insulated tools
- Climbing and fall prevention gear
Even something as simple as having a drink that replenishes electrolytes in hot weather can make all the difference.
So, the next time you face a power outage, remember the brave linemen who are out there working hard so that you can get your power back.
Arbill is a safety solutions company. We are proud to serve as a supplier to America’s linemen and strive to provide them with the right equipment, when they need it. Our mission is to keep workers safe and return them home safely at the end of the day. Visit arbill.com for more information about being safe and subscribe to Safer Every Day, the definitive digital magazine for workplace safety.
Have a safe day!
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) about 76,000 office workers nationwide have disabling injuries every year. Although the most frequent types of incidents are falls (either from height, tripping or slippery surfaces), many injuries also occur as the result of contact with electrical equipment or appliances.
Almost everything in an office setting today operates on electricity. Electrical equipment used in an office, is potentially hazardous and can cause serious shock and burn injuries if improperly used or maintained. If a part of the body comes in contact with the electrical circuit, a shock will occur. The current will enter the body at one point and leave at another and this passage of electricity, can cause great pain, burns, and even death.
Every year in the United States, workplace electrical incidents result in more than 300 deaths and 3,500 injuries. While electrical hazards are not the leading cause of on-the-job injuries and fatalities, they are disproportionately fatal and costly with 1 in 13 electrical injuries resulting in death.
According to OSHA, electrical incidents cause an average of 13 days away from work and nearly one fatality every day. Electrical incidents rank 6th among all causes of work related deaths in the U.S. Over the past decade, 46,000 workers were injured from on the job electrical hazards and a worker is severely hurt every 30 minutes from electricity.
Electrocution is not the only injury employees can get from electrical hazards. Additional injuries include burns, hearing loss, lacerations and other health issues. An especially dangerous event is what’s called an Arc Flash. An arc flash is the light and heat produced by an electric arc supplied with sufficient electrical energy to cause substantial damage, harm, fire, or injury. Electrical arcs experience negative resistance, which causes the electrical resistance to decrease as the arc temperature increases.
Last week, I used this space to touch on reasons for being thankful. I also took the opportunity to promise to share in upcoming blogs impactful life changing stories about making positive changes in the workplace to keep workers safe. These stories inspire our own employees because we know first-hand that we are impacting lives in a positive way. I hope you will find value in the stories and the lessons that we share.
Every year in the United States, workplace electrical incidents result in more than 300 deaths and 3,500 injuries. While electrical hazards are not the leading cause of on-the-job injuries and fatalities, they are disproportionately fatal and costly. For every 13 electrical injuries – a worker dies. Most of these electrical related fatalities and injuries could be prevented. Awareness of workplace electrical hazards and knowledge of best practices are critical to reducing these staggering statistics.
As we look ahead to May, which is National Electrical Safety Month, I’d like to share some information that may spark some reaction.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics - For the last decade, electrical injury has been responsible for an average of 320 deaths and more than 4,000 injuries including days away from work annually in the U.S.