As all of you know by now, the CECA joins with us in bringing you interesting slices of our rich Texas heritage; however, here in the real world (as the old song says), men from the CECA recently participated in a safety demonstration that we thought you would enjoy. We asked marketing director Shirley Dukes to tell us all about it.
When the power goes out and you call your local electric power provider, how much thought do you give to the process of restoring that power? Not much, right?
You pay for that power and you want it back on, and rightly so. Very few of us give a lot of thought to the dangers that lie in wait for our local linemen when they head out into the storm to restore power. In fact, during the first years of line construction approximately one out of every two linemen were expected to die on the job.
A lot has changed in the last 75-100 years to make line work safer, but the dangers are still there. To alleviate some of that danger, electric providers take extreme caution and provide extensive training to our linemen.
Once per month, employees of CECA are required to attend a safety meeting where any safety ideas are discussed and/or practiced. This week, all CECA linemen from the Comanche and Brownwood offices participated in a “Pole Top Rescue” training.
Pole-top rescue falls under an Occupational Safety & Health Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor (OSHA) regulation that states employees must be trained in emergency procedures related to their work and necessary for their safety. Injury or other medical emergencies might result in a lineman needing to be lowered from a pole.
Other members of the crew could be his only hope of survival, so this skill is very important.
As part of the annual training course, each lineman must climb a pole and rescue a 150 pound training mannequin that is hanging from the utility pole. The lineman must then secure the mannequin using ropes and clips and safely bring him back to the ground.
The rescue procedure begins when the lineman calls from the ground to the injured man on the pole. The lineman then places a MAYDAY call using the truck radio, puts on his gear and climbs the pole. When he reaches the top, he attaches a hand line (rope) to the cross-arm and secures it around the injured man.
After releasing the injured man from the pole by cutting his safety strap, the lineman lowers him to the ground using the hand-line. He then climbs back down the pole and performs the necessary CPR or First Aid. Each lineman is timed during this procedure. Optimum time for the rescue is less than four minutes.
Larry “Shorty” Hatley, Safety Coordinator for CECA says “There is no way for the linemen to know what might happen when they are in the field. It is important that they all know the proper training because they may be the only person available if their partner is faced with a life or death situation.”
The bucket rescue is very similar, and the requirement is to get the training mannequin out of the bucket safely by using the lower controls. Older buckets must use block and tackle ropes for rescuing the injured worker. Newer units will allow the basket to touch the ground for quicker rescue.
Monthly training continues throughout a lineman’s career. Pole Top Rescue is only one of the many safety techniques practiced on a regular basis. CECA always places safety first, and by performing these training sessions, the cooperative and its members can rest assured that the linemen are properly trained to handle almost any situation.