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!