16 Jul 2021

How Linemen Can Stay Safe on the Job

Utility work can be full of hazards. Linemen risk falls, electric shocks, burns, and other injuries while on the job every day. Minimizing these risks for workers is critical. That’s why electrical safety equipment like arc flash apparel is crucial.

What Are the Risks of Electrical Line Work?

Electrical line utility workers face some of the most dangerous tasks in the industry. Workers need to fully understand these hazards not only to ensure their own protection, but also the safety of those around them. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, risks include:

  • Electrocution
  • Falls
  • Confined spaces
  • Fires and explosions
  • Sprains, strains, and fractures
  • Environmental stress

Even linemen with decades of experience must remain cognizant of these risks to ensure they are taking appropriate safety measures — like using proper electrical safety equipment.

How Can Electrical Linemen Stay Safe on the Job?

While utility work is dangerous, there are ways to protect yourself and others from the injuries and hazards listed above. The following are just some of the safety best practices linemen can follow. For more information on linemen safety, review OSHA’s Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution Industry safety guidelines.

Wear proper electrical safety equipment.

The use of proper electrical safety equipment is one of the most important safety steps linemen can take. In the event of an incident, a helmet, gloves, shoes, and clothing will provide an extra layer of protection against falling objects or electrical shock.

Use tools appropriately.

Linemen should never use a tool they are not familiar with and should always practice proper tool safety, such as visually inspecting all equipment before use and replacing anything visibly damaged. Utility company managers might consider holding training sessions to keep workers up to date on these safety best practices.

Always work in teams.

Linemen often work in groups, but that doesn’t mean they are working as a team. Linemen should ensure that they and their fellow crew members communicate with each other and look out for one another’s safety.

Stay aware of surroundings.

When working on the line, even a slight movement can lead to an accident. Electricity can arc over to an object through the air. You don’t even have to touch a line with a conductive object — simply having it within inches of the line and then backing away can create an electrical arc several feet wide, which can cause significant injury. Therefore, linemen should move mindfully and be aware of the tools around them.

Take the time to do the job safely.

Accidents often occur when workers try to rush a job. Even experienced electrical line workers must work slowly and use proper technique, which will also ensure the job is done properly.

How Arc Flash Apparel Helps Linemen Stay Safe

Linemen must always wear insulative protective equipment to protect themselves against electrical shock. Some of the protective equipment available includes ground cables, grounding clusters, arc flash apparel, dielectric insulated boots, hard hats, and face shields. 

Manufacturers of arc flash apparel typically make boots, gloves, and sleeves from insulated rubber that protects against electrical shock. Rubber safety equipment keeps power lineman safe from electrical hazards on the job. This equipment should be inspected prior to each use for wear, damage, or contamination. They come in multiple classes determined by the level of protection they provide. Hard hats and face shields are also essential protection against falling objects and other debris.  

Linemen often perform tasks on de-energized equipment which is locked out and tagged out while remaining within the shock boundary and near to other live equipment. In this case, a worker could accidentally lose control of a tool that could then contact live parts. If the worker is using non-insulated hand tools, in addition to a shock hazard, a phase-over and an arc flash could happen. As a result, the worker could be exposed to injury, and the nearby equipment could take damage that results in expensive repairs, replacement, or downtime.

Tools with plastic coatings or plastic handles are not suitable when live circuits are close to the task at hand. Therefore, any work in close proximity to energized equipment should only be done using insulated tools with the double-triangle official international “Suitable for live working” symbol, a marking that identifies tools as safe for energized work. This symbol must be marked on all truly insulated hand tools. 

These insulated hand tools have a maximum use rating of 1,000VAC and are dielectrically tested at 10,000VAC, equating to a safety margin factor of 10. These tools should meet current ASTM F1505 and IEC 60903 standards for insulated hand tools and are useful for compliance with the CSA Z462-15 standard.

Arc Flash Apparel and Other Electrical Safety Equipment from Quest

At Quest Safety Products, we are always up-to-date with the latest requirements so we can provide you with electrical safety equipment that suits your unique needs. To help you keep your electrical linemen safe, Quest offers a full range of electrical safety equipment from all the major manufacturers:

If you are looking for assistance with electrical safety, Quest can help — contact us today.

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