ELECTRICAL LINEWORKER PROGRAM
SAFETY IN POWER DELIVERY Unlike today, when the electric utility industry began in the late 1800s, it was dangerous—tools and procedures were unsophisticated, insulated equipment was not available, and formalized training like the NLC Electrical Lineworker Program was nonexistent. Linemen did not understand the laws of electricity, so accidents were common. Over time, tools and protective equipment evolved, as did methodology. Training became more formalized in the late 1930s thanks to the National Apprenticeship Act (also known as the ”Fitzgerald Act”), which set minimum standards for apprenticeship programs; in response, companies began implementing safety rules and procedures. After World War II, manufacturers began replacing homemade, untested tools with properly manufactured, insulated protective gear. In 1970, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) formed, significantly improving linework safety. By this time, most power companies had founded training
centers, rotating lineworkers through a wide range of safety and educational offerings. They would advance through multi-year apprenticeship programs, eventually earning Department of Labor Certification—a recognition that exists to this day. Today, all the tools, procedures, and safety gear exist for lineworkers to enjoy a long and rewarding career. As one example, over the past several years equipment has been widely adopted by the trade that ensures linemen are attached to structures 100% of the time—in fact, NLC has been contracted to certify lineworkers in proper use of this equipment by several major utility companies. Like any trade, linework is not without risk; however, most accidents are related to unsafe behavior (e.g. taking shortcuts or unnecessary risks). It
is likened to driving on a congested freeway in poor weather conditions— safe drivers slow down and hold their lanes, while unsafe drivers weave in and out of traffic at high speed. Ensuring that lineworkers establish proper safety principles early is the key to working safely, and NLC’s Electrical Lineworker Program is focused on imparting these principles at every opportunity. Curriculum includes current OSHA regulations, as well as industry best practices and procedures. In the lab and field, students are taught to identify all components of electrical systems and the tools needed to safely work on them. When they complete their training, graduates can leverage the important safety values learned in the ELP.
WORKING SAFELY This student is attached to the pole with a special device called a SuperSqueeze®, which prevents him from falling in the event of a gaff-out. The SuperSqueeze is just one example of safety advancement in the industry. NLC mandates a 100% attachment policy for all students working in elevated positions.