Safety comes first
Line work is done in a very hazardous environment every day, and workers perform a wide variety of tasks. Much of the work is in the vicinity of or directly on power lines energized at 7,200 volts. If one mistake is made or if equipment fails, the results could be limb- and life-threatening.
That is why safety must come first at Lorain-Medina Rural Electric Cooperative. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates that linemen complete a pole-top and bucket-rescue training course each year. “We make sure everyone is properly trained in case a mishap would occur for any reason,” said LMRE Operations Manager Kim Hinkle. “With this training, linemen are properly trained and have the knowledge and confidence to handle rescue situations.”
As part of the annual training course, each lineman must climb a pole and rescue a 150-pound training mannequin that hangs from the utility pole. The lineman must then secure the mannequin using ropes and clips and safely bring it back to the ground. The bucket rescue is very similar, with the lineworkers required to get the training mannequin out of the bucket safely by using lowering controls.
Because these rescue situations rarely happen, lineworkers don’t get frequent practice in the techniques. But when they do, there’s no time waste, and that’s why annual training is crucial.
“Pole-top and bucket rescue is one skill that is used typically only during emergencies,” explained Dwight Miller, director of safety and loss control for Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives, the statewide service organization that helps LMRE conduct its training. “This rescue practice must be conducted annually to not only satisfy OSHA requirements, but also to truly arm the employee with as much competence as possible if ever he would be faced with such an unfortunate event of a disabled co-worker on top of the pole who has just made contact with energized lines or equipment.
“He could also be faced with a situation such as a fellow employee suffering a heart attack, heat stroke, etc., while working atop a wooden pole,” Miller continued.
“The rescue practice helps the employee to be ready to perform an emergency rescue for his fellow employees. It keeps safety at the forefront of the job while providing a sober reminder of the consequences that could occur if a shortcut in safe work procedures is ever taken,” he said. “The goal is for the lineman to approach his job with professionalism, and to do the job right every time, coming safely back home to his family every night.”