Tag Archive for: power lineman safety

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.