While falling from the top of an electrical power pole is a constant danger to our nation’s linemen and power workers, suffering from a burn or being electrocuted is a more likely hazard.

Nearly all linemen work on live “hot” distribution lines carrying electricity to businesses or residential homes from the power plant. In many incidents, the worker wears insulated gloves and other appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to safeguard against contact with electrical power lines.

Were you or a family member injured while working as a lineman? If so, you are likely entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Contact our Chicago personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC for more information and discuss your legal rights and options during a free consultation.

Linemen Power Workers Installing High Voltage Power Line

In the early years of electricity, nearly 33% of all power linemen were killed in job-related accidents at the turn of the twentieth century.

However, the contributing factors to their deaths were typically tied to a lack of training, lack of experience, congested poles, and non-standardized equipment and tools.

Today, working on a live electric line is significantly safer than in years past. The electrical industry has developed effective standards and established safety protocols to minimize the major hazards of serious injuries and death.

There is a calculated risk to maintaining safety on the job where effective supervision is crucial to saving the lives of the electrical workers and ensuring the job is done quickly and correctly. Training is essential for always keeping the lineman safe.

However, the safety procedures practiced by one company might not be enforced by another.

Power Worker Job Duties

Power linemen, journeyman lineman, and utility line workers oversee the building and maintaining the nation’s electrical power systems.

These utility line workers perform duties on the system from the power plant (generation point) to the meter on the commercial property or residential home.

Their common duties include:

  • Installing electrical poles and towers
  • Maintaining all existing wire or stringing new electrical wire
  • Assembling and erecting electrical lines and transformers at substations
  • Maintaining heavy equipment

Much of the work done by power linemen and utility workers are performed outdoors during inclement weather, working on electrical poles and towers when the system fails due to bad storms.

In addition, many utility line workers operate heavy equipment, including cranes, pullers, tension equipment, dump trucks, aerial lifts, digger derricks, and backhoes.

Common Worker Hazards on Power Lines

While homes and businesses depend on continuous electrical power, nearly every utility work is extremely dangerous to the men and women in charge of moving and managing electricity along the electrical grid.

Power linemen and workers have an elevated risk of suffering burns, electrical shock, falling, and electrocution while working on the job each day. Even a minor accident can lead to a fatality.

Power linemen and utility workers understand the magnitude of the dangers of their workplace environment and the need to follow safety measures when working around electric lines.

Every power worker must understand OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) safety regulations and become familiar with established safety protocols for handling tools, safety equipment, and supplies.

Statistics maintained by the US Department of Labor reveal the potential risks common to power linemen and utility workers, especially when not using protective gear.

These risks include:

  • Electrocution
  • Falling from significant heights
  • Environmental stress
  • Internal injuries
  • Electrical burns
  • Fractures, broken bones, strains, and sprains
  • Traumatic brain injury from falls from bucket trucks
  • Explosions and fire
  • Severe injuries from motor vehicle accidents and dangerous equipment
  • Confined spaces
  • Wrongful death

Any failure to identify an on-the-job hazard and take appropriate measures could cause the power worker their life or the lives of other workers at the job site. Additionally, the workplace’s failure to use PPE properly is significant.

Electrical workers who wear proper gloves are less likely to suffer severe hand burns should the employee touch a live electrical power line. Also, failing to protect against electrical currents using an effective ground system could make the workplace instantly dangerous.

Power Linemen and Power Line Workers’ Wages

Annual Wages

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016, data concerning the employment statistics of the previous year, 1360 linemen and utility line workers were working in the Chicago, Naperville, and Arlington Heights metropolitan areas.

On average, linemen and utility line workers in northeastern Illinois earn $63,670 every year (mean wage), $30.61 per hour. The wage is slightly lower than the national average. See Chart

Power Linemen Fatalities

Even linemen and electrical line workers doing their jobs for decades remain at serious risk of being severely hurt or killed in job-related incidents.

Some stories involving recent fatalities of utility workers in linemen throughout the United States include:

  • West Jordan, Utah – A Rocky Mountain power lineman working long hours died of electrocution while out in the field with another worker attempting to identify the cause of a power outage in West Jordan, Utah, in October 2017.
  • Moultrie, Georgia – A veteran 48-year-old Georgia Power lineman was killed in a job-related accident by electrocution while working on a power pole to restore electricity by the Tift-Berrien County line. The power lineman injury occurred while repairing a downed power line. The first responders repeated attempts of cardiopulmonary resuscitation were not enough to keep the man alive.
  • Fairmont, North Carolina – In August 2017, a 24-year-old Robeson County lineman working for East Coast Electric of Pembroke died while changing a pole with company employees. The late morning incident occurred while co-workers were exchanging a pole. The accident happened when an electrical arc passed through the pole, and the victim was standing by the pole before entering the ground.

According to OSHA, the facility rate for electrical power linemen and workers is 20.3 for every 100,000 employees. Many accidents occur when repairing or maintaining power lines at dangerous heights during severe weather.

Utility companies offer these dangerous jobs to expert workers with knowledge of high-voltage wiring complex electrical work, who can remain alert while working long hours in dangerous conditions. Unfortunately, the high burden of following proper techniques in dangerous conditions can result in negligent actions that lead to serious injury.

Compared to all other occupations, this statistic of workers on power lines remains significantly higher than many other hazardous jobs.

Staying Safe and Alive: Personal Protective Equipment & Appropriate Safety Equipment

Staying safe on the job requires full attention, no matter what happens in the lineman’s daily life. Following the best safety practices listed below can help workers minimize the potential risk of being severely injured or killed in their work environment.

These practices include:

  • Remain aware and alert of your surroundings: When performing any work on or around live electrical lines, be mindful of who and what is around to avoid equipment and dangerous scenarios and injuries.
  • Work in teams. Performing duties alongside coworkers can build an effective safety team that looks out from one another through ongoing communication until the job is completed and all workers are removed from a hazardous working environment to avoid preventable accidents and injuries.
  • Wear proper safety equipment. Utilizing proper safety gear and other protective equipment is a crucial safety step that electrical linemen or utility workers can take to follow safety precautions that avoid injuries.

Workers must recognize that they have control over their safety and the safety of all coworkers on the job as long as they follow the established safety protocols. Staying safe requires remaining diligent and speaking aloud any time a hazard is identified.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Power linemen and utility workers working for any utility company have a legal right to file for worker’s compensation benefits if injured on the job. Surviving family members can also seek wrongful death benefits paid by utility companies to pay for all damages, typically lump-sum settlements.

In some cases, other third parties may also be involved in causing the accident with injuries. In these cases, the victim or surviving family members can file a third-party lawsuit to recover compensation for medical care, lost wages, and other damages.

Third parties may include the company selling a defective product (product liability claim), other contractors, or drivers in motor vehicle accidents who can be responsible for damages, injuries, or wrongful death.

Are You Ready to Get Started on Your Compensation Claim? Contact a Chicago Law Firm Who Understands the Dangers Power Workers & Linemen Face

Our personal injury law firm helps injured linemen and power workers obtain monetary recovery under the IL Workers’ Compensation Act and through civil lawsuits. Call us today for a free case evaluation.

Many occupational injuries are severe and, at times, life-threatening. If you have been injured, hiring a power lineman injury attorney could benefit your financial future.

Under most circumstances, your personal injury attorneys will ensure you receive monetary compensation from multiple sources to recover your accident injuries financially.

Contact A Reputable Chicago Linemen and Utility Workers’ Compensation & Injury Law Firm

Our injury law firm will issue a complaint on your behalf, file your compensation claim, gather evidence, build your case, and negotiate an out-of-court settlement or take your lawsuit to trial.

Our personal injury law firm accepts every compensation claim on a contingency fee basis, meaning you owe us nothing if we do not win!

To contact our Chicago personal injury attorneys to discuss your legal issues during a free consultation, fill out our law firm website’s contact form or call us at (888) 424-5757.


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