Power linemen face numerous workplace hazards every day. Falls from dangerous heights, electric shocks, burns, exposure to toxic substances, and motor vehicle accidents often cause electrical workers to become seriously injured. In some cases, these incidents can even be fatal. Recognizing the magnitude of the dangers they face and taking appropriate safety measures can help keep utility workers safe.
Common Workplace Hazards for Power Linemen
Some of the most common dangers electrical linemen face at work include:
Inadequate Safety Gear
Utility companies are required to equip their workers with appropriate personal protective equipment. If workers don’t have the gear they need or don’t properly use it, their risk of on-the-job injury significantly increases.
Working with high-voltage wiring is one of the most prominent dangers electrical workers face. If power lines are damaged or improperly handled, they could electrocute workers. In addition, power lines can cause fires and explosions that further increase the risk of injury or death.
Falls from High Elevations
Power linemen perform many work-related tasks like installs, repairs, and upgrades from high elevations. Working from heights puts them at risk of sustaining injuries from fall accidents.
Adverse Weather Conditions
Power linemen are often responsible for restoring power during or after major storms. Workers are often exposed to extreme temperatures, heavy winds, rain, snow, ice, and flooding. The falling debris, slippery surfaces, and heavy wind gusts that occur during significant weather events create additional dangers for linemen.
Exhaustion from Long Hours of Work
Utility workers often work long hours, particularly in the event of a storm that requires emergency power restoration services. The stress of working longer hours could affect the worker’s performance, which could increase the risk of injury.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Driving conditions are often hazardous while power linemen perform their duties, especially when required to work on power lines during busy times of the day, including rush hour. Subsequently, linemen may be at a greater risk of sustaining injuries in motor vehicle accidents during these times.
Exposure to Toxic Substances
Asbestos is a dangerous substance that utility workers often encountered up until the 1980s. Before then, electrical workers were often exposed to power lines containing asbestos, or they may have worn protective gear that was partially made with the toxic substance. While modern power lines no longer use asbestos, workers may still be exposed to asbestos when working with older lines predating the 1980s. Asbestos exposure can cause a number of long-term health issues including mesothelioma and asbestosis.
How Power Linemen Can Stay Safe in the Workplace
Although there are many safety hazards that put power linemen at risk of injury or death, there are ways utility workers can keep themselves and others safe on the job. The following best practices can help electrical crews maintain a safer work environment.
Remaining Aware of Surroundings
While working with power lines, even the slightest movement could cause an accident. Staying aware of tools, equipment, other workers, and hazards in the work area can help lineman stay safe.
Working in Teams
By working as a team, maintaining clear communication, and watching out for the safety of other crew members, linemen can reduce the risk of serious injuries or deaths.
Properly Utilizing Tools
Tools and other equipment can be dangerous when they are not used properly. By only using tools they are familiar with and handling tools and equipment safely, workers can help prevent injuries t themselves and other linemen. Utility companies can help ensure tools are used properly by implementing training programs.
Rushing a job can put an entire team at risk of injury. Accidents around power lines often occur because of a worker’s impatience. Practicing proper techniques and working slowly can help make sure the job is done right and workers are safe.
Wearing Protective Equipment
Workers handling dangerous equipment and lines should always wear appropriate safety equipment. High-voltage linemen’s gloves, conductive safety boots, helmets, and fire-resistant clothing provide an extra level of protection should an incident occur.
Apart from taking these steps, workers should also be on the lookout for any hazards and warn other employees and employers when they identify workplace dangers. With the proper safety measures in place and safe behavior among workers, power linemen can remain safer and more productive.
When electrical linemen are injured on the job, they may be able to recover compensation by filing a workers’ comp claim, a product liability claim if defective equipment contributed to the accident, or a third-party personal injury claim if a subcontractor or another entity caused the injury. When more than one factor contributes to a workplace accident, linemen may be able to file multiple injury claims to recover compensation for their losses.