When a storm is raging outside and your lights go out, the first thing you hope for is that the utility line workers will show up soon to take care of the problem. One of the things that you forget is that there are potentially thousands of other people hoping for the same thing. According to PennLive.com, the inclement weather is just one of the work dangers that utility line workers face.
Unlike most other professions where workers wait until the weather has calmed down to do their jobs, utility line workers are out in that storm fixing the lines and getting the hospitals, sewage treatment stations, police stations, and your home powered up. The line workers are forgotten until they are needed, and rarely thanked when they do their jobs.
Utility Line Workers Putting Their Lives At Risk
According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, approximately 150 utility line workers died in 2010. While that number is representative of a downward trend, it still accents how much of a dangerous job line work can be. There was a point in the 1990s where work fatalities in the utility line field reached as much as 350 per year, but advanced technology and protective gear have helped to bring that number down.
Transmission and Distribution World Magazine estimates that between 30 and 50 utility line workers out of every 100,000 die on the job every year. In 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that there were 236,600 line workers in the United States, and there is a strong need for more line workers in the future. These numbers represent more fatalities in the line of duty for utility line workers than police officers or firemen. These are the types of work dangers that are rarely seen on the news, and not the kind of work fatalities that get a lot of attention.
In a world where everything appears to be wireless, finding new utility line workers is difficult. The average age of a line worker is 50 years old, and the line waiting to take over for the workers who are fortunate enough to retire is not getting longer.
The problems with hiring more line workers are many. They include:
- Long hours – Almost all utility line workers in the United States are on-call 24-hours a day.
- Rough working conditions – On top of working in the worst weather conditions, workers also have to wear layers of protective rubber clothing that can become dangerously hot during the summer months.
- Dangerous future – As already noted, being a utility line worker is considered to be one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.
A generation that was raised believing that everything people need comes from satellites and towers does not see the need to get involved in such a dangerous job. The equipment used today to transmit electricity has not changed very much from the first day Thomas Edison introduced it to the world. While the software and processes at the substations have advanced incredibly, the lines are still old technology that remains extremely dangerous.
An Appreciation For This Type Of Work
Most people do not understand how repairing an electrical system works. When they see the line truck passing their blacked out homes, they wonder why the truck is not stopping to help. An electrical system works like a bicycle wheel in that there are main sections of the system that have to operate for the rest of the system to work. Without a central hub, fixing the spokes is pointless. So workers have to fix the main sections of each circuit before they can get to the residential streets.
The work is difficult and dangerous, but just as many people rely on utility line workers as they do fireman, soldiers, doctors, and even police officers. However, when the line workers are done getting the lights back on, there are no keys to the city or international news stories for them. Utility line workers know the dangers they face and when injuries occur, legal help can be sought to help them recoup their damages.