Larrry’s typical day as an electric cooperative lineworker actually started the night before. He was getting ready for bed when a member reported her power was out. It was Larry’s weekly overnight to be on call, so the co-op truck was already in his driveway. He drove it to the woman’s house, identified a problem in the base of the meter, installed a temporary fix until an electrician could get out the next day and returned home two hours later. He would report for work at the co-op office by 7:30 the next morning.
Larry and his fellow lineworkers like hunting down problems because they know the members depend on them.
Larry is like a lot of electric utility lineworkers. The job takes specific skills, intestinal fortitude and a “get it done” personality.
Larry starts his day in a room with the rest of the lineworkers, leafing through stacks of paper—checklists, maps, work orders—planning the day’s work. They compare notes and find out who is familiar with the area where they’re headed.
In addition to taking time to coordinate the plans and paperwork, the lineworkers need to keep track of a lot of equipment.
Neatly organized shelves in the warehouse hold saws, drills, climbing hooks, insulated work poles, trash cans and binoculars. They always wear safety gear or have it close at hand—hard hats, safety glasses, fire-retardant uniforms, steel-toe shoes, regular work gloves and hot-line safety gloves.
One more task keeps the crews from driving off to their first jobs, and it’s probably the most important of all: the weekly safety meeting.
While catastrophic contact with electric current is always the top concern, training is also provided on a variety of safety topics. Larry doesn’t see his job as dangerous. He knows it is hazardous and unforgiving, but it doesn’t have to be dangerous if he follows the right procedures. Lineworkers have the tools, the rules and the knowledge to keep their work from being dangerous.
By midmorning, the convoy is ready. Three lineworkers drive three trucks: a service truck, a bucket truck pulling a trailer with a large spool of wire, and a digger truck with a huge auger on top and pulling a trailer carrying a backhoe. They head across the county for the day’s job.
We Don’t Say ‘Hurry Up’
When the caravan arrives at the work site, the three lineworkers gather near the front of one of the trucks for what a lot of co-ops call a “tailgate meeting.” They read through forms, noting the address, cross street, job and account number. All three men sign the form.
They break their huddle and de-energize the lines they’re working on, complete the task at hand and reenergize the line.
Back at the co-op, they check the paperwork for the next day’s jobs and then stock the trucks with the equipment they will need for an early start. Larry will be heading to a local school to help elementary students understand the importance of being safe around electricity.
To an outsider, taking time to follow all the procedures of a lineworker’s workday may seem tedious or even unnecessary, but Larry and his fellow lineworkers disagree. They know how the work should be done and do it—never rushing through or skipping steps. They look out for each other and the co-op’s members. It’s the co-op way.