Keeping Experienced Linemen Safe

The changing workforce presents several challenges when it comes to keeping linemen safe on the job. Among the most prevalent is keeping your experienced workers safe. With age comes valuable experience, but it can also come with a loss of dexterity and other physical changes that can present a true danger on the line.

Keeping Experienced Linemen Safe

Consider These Statistics

It is estimated that musculoskeletal disorders like arthritis account for approximately one-third of injury and illness costs for U.S. businesses. By the year 2030, working adults ages 45 to 64 will account for almost one-third of arthritis cases.1

In most cases, older workers are less likely to be injured on the job. However, when it comes to slips, trips and falls, workers 65 and older are injured at double the rate of workers younger than 45. 

Even without physical challenges, experience can surprisingly spell disaster. Many incidents occur during routine tasks as a result of workers becoming too comfortable and complacent. “[Experienced climbers too often] tune out safety talks because they think they will be fine or they are under tight deadline pressure to do more with less,” Twana McFann, safety program technician with the City of Columbus Department of Public Utilities, said in an interview with Safety+Health.2

Keeping experienced linemen on the job is critically important. Many utilities are taking a proactive approach to curtailing these age-related causes of injuries by strengthening workplace wellness, fall protection, and ongoing training.

Workplace Wellness

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, workplace programs in the areas of safety, ergonomics, wellness and disability management can all play a role in preventing joint pain and preserving joint health in working individuals of all ages.1

Fall Protection

It’s imperative that body belts, positioning straps and pole climbers are maintained and inspected regularly per OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910. It’s also important to note that, when fall protection equipment is rigged to arrest falls, it’s considered a fall arrest system. When fall protection equipment is rigged for work positioning, it is considered work-positioning equipment. The design and use of that equipment must meet the applicable requirements for the purpose in which it is being used.3

Ongoing Training

Safety briefings are a fact of life for utility workers. So how can new life be infused into these briefings so that experienced linemen find value? Get them involved. Ask veteran linemen to help lead the meetings and to share what they’ve learned out in the field. Involve them in hazard analyses and other important safety functions that will reinforce what they know and introduce them to new rules and regulations they may not know.

Experienced linemen are valuable for their skills and knowledge. New workers can benefit greatly by working alongside these veterans. By strengthening your support in certain areas, you can help keep linemen safely on the line.


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Sources

1. http://blogs.cdc.gov/niosh-science-blog/2012/10/29/joint-pain

2. http://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/11628-keeping-linemen-safe

3. https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=9868