When working with and around utility lines, safety is the number one priority. The hazards linemen face begin well before they climb up a utility pole and continue through the job, paperwork, and clean up until they depart the jobsite for the day. So, how do electrical first responders stay safe? The best training and equipment available.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the primary hazards faced by linemen are:
- Confined Spaces
- Fires and Explosions
- Sprains, Strains, and Fractures
- Environmental Stress
However, industry safety experts put emphasis on the failure of personal responsibility, specifically:
- Not identifying job hazards
- Not protecting against currents in grounded systems
- Not using proper personal protective equipment
- Not using proper cover up equipment
- Not driving safely
Proper training is more than just how to do the job. It is about how to do the job safely. In fact, the Executive Director of Training at Southeast Lineman Training Center – SLTC in Georgia, Timothy Self, believes that, “You begin with attitude. You start to form the culture from the very beginning, letting them know that nothing is more important than the safety of themselves, the safety of others and the safety of the general public. It’s an extremely hazardous job, and if your focus isn’t on safety all of the time, people get hurt and killed.”
By creating a safe mindset from the beginning, safety becomes more than a step in the process. It becomes an unconscious habit – like breathing.
The right tools to do the job correctly are obviously a must in any industry. While many of the tools in a lineman’s truck and belt are reasonably standard, technology is starting to make advances in this realm. Hardhats, crimpers, grounding devices, harnesses, belts, and trailer organization are just a few of the tools that have all evolved significantly making the lineman’s job safer and more efficient. Meta Design & Manufacturing Inc (Meta) is dedicated to be a positive force in the industry to re-think key power line worker tools and equipment.
For example, Meta has developed an innovative solution to the grounding of overhead and underground distribution systems. In the case of overhead distribution system grounding, Meta has an ASTM certified duck-bill style grounding clamp called the "Overhead Raptor Clamp" which has a spring-assisted slider component which works with the hot-stick to reduce the ergonomic strain on the line worker. The Overhead Raptor Clamp is also CNC machined from the superior billet aluminum over the industry standard cast alumninum for better protection.
The grounding of some underground distribution systems are further complicated by having both loadbreak and deadbreak connections. This requires line crews to carry both grounding devices on their trucks. Meta has produced an innovative solution that combines both devices into the "Grounded Bushing Well." This new approach improves the installation of the ground as well as improved performance in a substantial CNC machined billet aluminum base.
Meta has also designed and fielded a new approach to the line crew pole trailer organization. This pole trailer accessory kit has enabled improved crew safety by organizing the gear to get the job done in an ergonomic package.
Training and Equipment Combined
Brought together, and regularly updated, proper training and quality equipment are what contributes to improved power line worker safety. Meta enthusiastically embraces and has brought forth innovative development of tools and equipment that is part of the industry effort to improve personnel safety and strain on the body.