Power Lineman & Cold Weather – Staying Safe

When average citizens are advised to stay inside due to extreme cold conditions, power linemen will be called out in the harshest elements to restore electricity. As one of the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the United States, this is hazardous work in any weather. But, when the conditions are treacherous, extra precautions are necessary.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this industry has a fatality rate of 2.2 deaths per every 100,000 workers. Winter conditions increase the probability of accidents, injuries, and fatalities for people in this job. Here are some of the strategies power linemen can use to stay safe in cold weather.

1. Dress Appropriately

The winter months can be full of wild temperature swings from day to day. Some of these extreme weather changes can catch linemen unprepared for changing conditions. When dressing for work, check the forecast and dress in multiple loose layers. Clothing that is too tight can restrict blood flow and reduce your body temperature.

Choose a jacket with goose or duck down that is warm but also loose enough to allow full range of motion. Protect your feet with warm socks and insulated boots. Gloves should be water-resistant and fleece-lined. Finally, wear head and neck protection to lock in body heat.

2. Beware of Winter Dehydration

It’s a common misconception that dehydration isn’t a big issue in cold weather. But it’s something you need to watch for because your body’s thirst response is reduced by up to 40% in the winter.

When you wear heavy winter clothing, the weight of that gear can make your body work up to 40% harder. This increases the need to focus on hydration. You are also losing fluids as you breathe in cold air, even if you don’t notice it.

3. Eat the Right Food

Foods that take longer to digest can make you feel warmer because they help raise your body temperature thanks to a process called thermogenesis. As your body metabolizes the food, it produces heat. You can facilitate the process and stay a bit warmer by eating foods high in carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats because they are more complex and take longer to digest.

4. Watch for Cold Stress

One of the biggest safety challenges power linemen face during the winter is called cold stress. This happens when outdoor conditions cause a drop in internal body and skin temperature. This can lead to a variety of serious conditions like frostbite, hypothermia, and trench foot.

According to OSHA, employers can prevent cold stress by training workers on recognizing the signs, monitoring worker’s physical conditions, and scheduling more frequent breaks during cold weather.

5. Have the Proper Safety Equipment

A cold-weather accident can happen quickly if you don’t have the proper safety equipment on hand. But going without these items in the wintertime could be a costly decision. Every time a power lineman climbs a line, they should have the following equipment:

  • Hardhat
  • Work boots
  • Safety glasses
  • Hearing protection
  • Safety harness
  • Rubber sleeves
  • Rubber gloves
  • Rubber glove protectors
  • Flame resistant shirt
  • Hotstick

Every time you have to go back down to get a forgotten piece of equipment, you increase the risk of an accident.

6. Know First Aid

Even with the strictest guidelines in place, weather-related injuries can still happen. Utility companies should equip their workers with the basic first aid knowledge necessary to assist employees who sustain serious injuries in the field. Power linemen should be certified in CPR and First Aid and have well-equipped first aid kits in their trucks.

7. Focus on Vehicle Safety

Another vital consideration for power linemen is winter road conditions. When cold weather hits, already dangerous roads become even more treacherous due to ice and fog. Make sure your vehicle is in top working condition and has safety measures in place like all-weather tires or chains. Vehicles should also come equipped with emergency supplies for snow removal and winter survival. Finally, slow down and operate your vehicle according to the current conditions.

8. Understand Your Limits

Power linemen understandably take a lot of pride in braving harsh conditions to get their work done. But the human body can only take so much. Fortunately, OSHA has set limitations for workers in harsh conditions. Specifically, if the air temperature drops to between -15 and -19 degrees F and there are at least 10 mile-per-hour winds, OSHA requires that employers implement a 75-minute work limit with at least two breaks.

Learn More About Power Lineman Safety in the Workplace

If you are a power lineman and have suffered an injury, it’s vital to understand that employers have a duty to provide a safe work environment that protects workers from these types of accidents. Having appropriate cold weather protection, training, and guidelines in place is an essential part of workplace safety and accident prevention. To learn more about protecting yourself from accidents in the workplace, contact you Power Lineman Injury Attorney directly.


Staying Safe After Weather Events – OSHA Safety Standards for Power Linemen

Power linemen face numerous occupational hazards and risks, including the risk of electrocution, the risk of fall, the risk of injury from machinery and equipment, and the risk of harm due to weather events or exposure. Standards set forth by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) are designed to mitigate risk and keep workers safe. Consider the following safety standards for power linemen, and OSHA’s guidance for staying safe in the elements and after weather events.

OSHA’s Guidelines for Avoiding Lightning-Related Injuries

Nature is a powerful force, and one of the most dangerous natural phenomena is lightning. When workers are outside during a lightning storm, there is a risk of a lightning strike severely injuring or killing workers, either as a result of a direct strike and electrocution, or as an indirect consequence of a lightning strike, such as a fire. As such, employers are required to consider lightning as an occupational hazard for outdoor workers such as power linemen, and to implement lightning safety recommendations.  OSHA recommendations for mitigating the risk of lightning-related injuries include:

  • Understanding lightning risks and characteristics. The first part of implementing a workplace safety plan regarding lightning is to ensure that everyone on a worksite understands lightning risks and characteristics. Lightning is a highly unpredictable natural event and can strike outside of rainfall areas. Also, all thunderstorms include lightning—the sound of thunder is caused by lightning. 
  • Taking cover. If thunder is heard or if lightning is seen, taking cover immediately should be the top priority of all power linemen and others at an outdoor worksite. If going indoors is a possibility, this should be prioritized. However, for workers at a job site, taking cover in hard-topped metal vehicles with rolled-up windows is a good option. Workers should remain indoors/in vehicles for at least half an hour from the time the last rumble of thunder is heard. 
  • Implementing an emergency action plan. To help prevent lightning injuries and other injuries that can occur as a result of weather events, employers must draft and implement an emergency action plan. This plan should include a lightning safety protocol that directs workers to take cover when thunder is heard, identify requirements for safe areas in which workers can take shelter, and specify guidelines for how to determine when outdoor work activities should be suspended. 

OSHA’s Guidance for Working Outside in the Heat

Heat is another type of weather event that can endanger the health and safety of outdoor workers, including power linemen. OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention campaign focuses on three primary pillars of safety: water, rest, and shade. 

Under the law, employers are required to provide outdoor workers with protection from extreme heat. A heat illness prevention program should include guidance regarding access to water and frequent water breaks, access to shade and guidance for resting in the shade, and a plan for monitoring heat-related illness and responding to signs of heat exhaustion. OSHA also recommends that workers stay hydrated and drink cool water throughout the workday (even when not thirsty), wear hats and dress for the heat, slowly build a tolerance to heat by increasing intensity by no more than 20 percent each day, and take breaks in cool, shady areas. 

OSHA Rain-Related Guidance

For power linemen, rain can be dangerous. Not only is rain often accompanied by lightning, but rain can also lead to slick conditions that increase the risk of power tool-related injuries and fall injuries. When heavy rain is combined with wind, equipment can be difficult to control, increasing the risk of a safety incident. What’s more, rain can also increase cold stress, which can lead to injuries such as trench foot and hypothermia. To mitigate injuries related to rain, employers should encourage workers to:

  • Wear protective clothing, such as waterproof boots and raincoats;
  • Implement an emergency response plan that indicates how workers should respond to heavy rains, wind, flash flood warnings, lightning, and other weather-related hazards; and
  • Temporarily stop working when conditions are dangerous and the risk of injury is increased. 

Safety plans should also include guidance for when returning to the worksite and resuming work is safe. 

Learn More About Staying Safety Before, During, and After Weather Events

Power linemen face numerous threats on the job site, including weather-related threats like lightning, heat, and rain. Having an appropriate safety plan in place that addresses these hazards is a critical part of responsible management and workplace preparedness. To learn more about staying safe before, during, and after weather events, call OSHA Injury Attorney directly today or send us a message online at your convenience and we will connect you with an experienced Power Lineman Injury Law Firm.

Hurricane Season is Fast Approaching – Power Lineman and Safety

The Atlantic Hurricane Seasons lasts from the beginning of June until the end of November, with the greatest intensity in storms generally happening from August through October. When they make landfall, these storms can bring untold destruction, requiring tremendous cleanup and recovery efforts.

The 2020 hurricane season broke an all-time record for the most named storms. The 29 named storms last year carved a path of devastating destruction in the Gulf and East coast states. Economic losses totaled an estimated $36 billion, where storms hit many communities in Louisiana before they had a chance to recover from the last one.

When hurricanes, tropical storms, and other disasters strike, many power linemen travel to these impacted areas to help restore electrical power. In addition to the property damage, injuries, and tragic loss of lives that the storms leave in their wake, the clean-up efforts can be just as dangerous.

Hazards Faced by Power Lineman After a Hurricane

The aftermath of a storm often brings more strong winds and rain, heavy flooding, piles of debris, and tons of confusion. But communities can’t get back to normal without the hard work and dedication of the people who repair the damage, such as power linemen.

Even in the best conditions, a power lineman’s job is incredibly dangerous. When you add flooding, debris, and downed lines to the mix, those hazards become even more serious. When dealing with hurricanes and other disasters, power linemen must face a long list of extreme hazards:

  • Falling Objects

It would be a mistake to think that all the blowing around is finished once a storm passes through. Debris will continue to settle and lie in wait for days, weeks, and months, creating additional hazards for power linemen that work in the area. A gust of wind can turn a loose branch or block of wood into a projectile, hitting a worker and/or causing them to fall from a high place.

  • Slip and Falls

Power linemen often work at high elevations, making them susceptible to serious injuries from falls. When you add in slippery and wet conditions, the dangers of this type of accident increase significantly. There is also an increased danger of tripping over debris and slipping on wet surfaces after a storm.

  • Burns and Explosions

When high voltage power lines are downed, severed, or otherwise damaged, there is a serious danger of fires, explosions, and electrocution to those who must work near those materials. Having the appropriate safety equipment on hand is vital to keeping power linemen safe in these conditions.

  • Poor Driving Conditions

Utility workers must often deal with severe road conditions, such as downed trees, flooding, and severed power lines, in the aftermath of a storm. There is even ice at higher elevations in some areas of the country, making road conditions even more treacherous. There may also be pressure from an employer to get to a worksite quickly, which can lead to motor vehicle accidents.

  • Stress from Long Hours

When a major storm hits an area, it can leave thousands of people without power. Since these storms happen during the hottest months of the year, that lack of electricity can be equally deadly for consumers. Power linemen are often expected to dedicate long hours to the task of getting the electrical system in communities back up and running. While a noble job, it can lead to severe stress and take its toll on a body quickly, leaving workers more susceptible to workplace injuries and illnesses.

Power Linemen and Safety After a Hurricane

Even when things are a bit chaotic, the power companies and disaster relief organizations that employ power lineman must take every precaution possible to keep workers safe during cleanup activities. Unfortunately, safety isn’t always a priority, and workers are either seriously hurt or killed.

When a power lineman is injured on the job, there are several options available. The first is to file a workers’ compensation claim to collect available benefits. In some states, an employee can also sue a negligent employer if their actions intentionally placed them in harm’s way or violated federal safety guidelines. An injured worker also has the right to sue a third party if a dangerous or defective product was involved.

Workplace accidents and injuries can be complex, particularly ones that involve storm recovery and cleanup. At OSHA Injury Attorney, our partner firms have extensive experience with these types of cases. We take tremendous pride in protecting the rights of workers who do dangerous jobs and are ready to pursue the compensation you deserve after an injury. If you need a power lineman injury lawyer in Atlanta, visit Bailey Javins, and Carter.

OSHA Safety Guidelines for Power Linemen

Working with electricity can be incredibly dangerous. For power linemen who are exposed to high-voltage power lines, safety guidelines established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are designed to prevent injuries and keep everyone safe on the job. At OSHA Injury Attorney, our goal is to provide workers with the vital information they need to stay safe at work, as well as help workers navigate their options if they are injured on the job. To learn more about OSHA safety guidelines for power linemen, as well as what your rights are if safety guidelines are breached and an accident occurs, call our experienced legal team directly. 

OSHA Safety Guidelines: How to Keep Power Linemen Safe on the Job

In addition to the precautions and guidelines established by OSHA, best practices and recommendations are also established by organizations such as the National Electric Contractors Association. Together, these organizations have developed standards and recommendations regarding the following:

  • Fall protections. Power linemen must use certain fall protection equipment when performing certain types of work. The specific type of fall protection equipment that must be used varies, in part, on the job being performed. To be sure, there are different standards for fall protection on aerial lifts and fall protection for work on towers. For the former, one such requirement is that fall arrest systems “must be rigged such that an employee can neither free fall more than six feet, nor contact any lower level,” as found in a memorandum to OSHA field offices. Another rule is that employees in elevated locations more than four feet above the ground use a personal fall arrest system.  
  • Minimum distances from insulated power lines. Per OSHA regulations, minimum distances must be maintained between scaffolds and exposed energized power lines. For insulated lines of less than 300 volts, the minimum distance is three feet. For uninsulated lines, the minimum distance is 10 feet. 
  • Hazard identification. One important part of staying safe on the job site is ensuring that all workers on a job site have information about potential hazards and are briefed on how to identify hazards. Hazard identification is one administrative control that is recommended, and includes identifying risks such as overhead and buried power lines, damaged electrical equipment, scaffolding risks, and more. In addition to hazard identification, a certain minimum number of workers are required for some power line jobs. For example, when workers are exposed to certain voltages, crews of at least two or more are required so that should one employee be injured, the other can render first aid/CPR. 
  • Use of rubber protective equipment. Ensuring that all power linemen have access to proper protective equipment is absolutely essential. Examples of protective equipment that is necessary for these types of jobs include rubber insulating blankets, rubber gloves, rubber insulating sleeves, rubber insulating matting, and more. 

Your Rights if You Are Injured on the Job

Being injured as a power lineman can have devastating consequences. Incidents involving electricity can be fatal and, when not fatal, could lead to long-term and disabling and disfiguring injuries, including severe burn injuries, loss of use of limb injuries, amputation injuries, and more. If you are injured on the job, it’s important to know that you have rights, including the right to bring forth a claim for workers’ compensation. Depending on the details of your case and the cause of the accident, you may also have grounds to file a third-party lawsuit. Filing a third-party lawsuit allows you to seek compensation for the value of your noneconomic damages, such as pain, suffering, and emotional distress. 

Additionally, if you suspect that your employer is breaching OSHA safety regulations, you have the right to bring forth a complaint. Your employer cannot retaliate against you for filing a complaint, and doing so could be a life-saving action. 

Call OSHA Injury Attorney Today to Learn More

Working around electricity is incredibly dangerous and, as a power lineman, it’s important to understand that your occupation is inherently risky. Fortunately, by strictly adhering to OSHA guidelines related to working around electricity, injury can be prevented. Sometimes, however, workers are not properly trained, are not provided the right equipment, or are not properly briefed on a site’s hazards. If you have questions about OSHA safety guidelines for power linemen, if you believe that your right to a safe work environment has been breached, or if you have suffered an on-the-job injury, please complete our contact form and we will forward your information to a qualified power lineman injury attorney.