Cooperative Living April 2024 - 19

CLOSER LOOK
Laying it
on the Line
Fast facts about lineworkers
by Scott Flood, Contributing Columnist
ou probably don't think about
them until your power goes
out, but electric lineworkers
protect our homes and communities 24
hours a day. Like other fi rst responders
who keep us safe, lineworkers endure
all kinds of weather and challenging
conditions.
Th is month, we celebrate National
Lineworker Appreciation Day to honor
the men and women who power life.
Here are some quick facts about lineworkers
and the work they do.
LINEWORKER HISTORY
Lineworkers fi rst appeared during
the 1840s rush to spread telegraph
service across the U.S., stringing wires
between trees and other natural objects.
It didn't take long for everyone to realize
tall poles were safer and more practical.
Lineworkers are responsible for
maintaining and upgrading the nation's
electric grid that connects more than
7,300 power plants to 145 million
consumers through 60,000 miles of
high-voltage lines, millions of miles
of distribution lines, and more than
50 million transformers.
Y
Roughly 6,300 of the more than
122,000 U.S. lineworkers are women.
Electric cooperatives are actively seeking
women for a variety of career paths.
Whether climbing poles or the offi ce
ladder, women have an important role
to play in the energy industry.
GEARED FOR SAFETY
Lineworkers climb with up to 40
pounds of safety gear and tools. One
essential tool for lineworkers is the hot
stick, an insulated fi berglass pole used
to safely move energized wires and
other equipment. Hot sticks vary in
size depending on the job.
THE WILD SIDE OF WORK
Squirrels and snakes are a major
cause of power outages, and lineworkers
encounter plenty of both while working.
Th ey've also been known to rescue
kittens that climbed too high in a tree
and curious bears on top of utility poles.
When your offi ce is the great outdoors,
these encounters are part of the job.
Many lineworkers enjoy showing
Lineworkers climb utility poles
with up to 40 pounds of safety
gear and tools.
co-opliving.com
off their skills at " rodeo " competitions.
Th ese events provide the public the
opportunity to see lineworkers in all
their glory and a fi rsthand look at
what it takes to get the job done.
For lineworkers, rodeo competitions
inspire camaraderie and strengthen
passion for the trade.
ON-THE-JOB TRAINING
Described by the Energy
Department as one of the nation's
highest-paid professions that doesn't
demand postsecondary education,
becoming a journeyman lineworker
typically requires a high school diploma
or equivalent, training and a paid
apprenticeship, which typically spans
four years. Apprentice lineworkers
receive hands-on training and experience
in the fi eld before advancing to
journeyman status. Lineworker
salaries range anywhere from $40,000
to $144,000, depending on location,
skillset and experience.
INSPIRING SAFETY
Roughly 60,000 lineworkers hit
the road annually to respond to
devastating storms and the damage
they leave behind. In addition to
extreme weather exposure, lineworkers
face a variety of dangers, including
electric shock, falls from elevated
work locations and roadside traffi c
accidents. High injury rates among
early lineworkers led to the creation
of apprenticeship programs and
organized labor throughout industry.
Safety is always the No. 1 priority,
which is why lineworkers continuously
receive training to stay mindful of safety
requirements and up to date on the
latest equipment and procedures.
Lineworkers power our lives.
Th e next time you see one, remember
to thank them for the essential work
they do.
*
Scott Flood writes for the National Rural
Electric Cooperative Association.
April 2024 * Cooperative Living * 17
http://www.co-opliving.com

Cooperative Living April 2024

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