How CoServ linemen stay safe during emergencies
In those rare times when Members experience an outage they might be wondering, “What is CoServ doing to restore power?” and “How long will the power be out?”
CoServ Members can rest assured that our linemen are responding as safely and quickly as possible because reliability is a critical part of CoServ’s mission statement.
But there’s a reason we mention safety first and foremost; we want all our linemen to get home to their families every day – especially when working near high voltage electricity.
Brian Read, CoServ’s Job Training and Safety Specialist, explains all the precautions our linemen take to protect themselves and the public before they work:
The first step is to assess the situation. Though CoServ does have smart grid technology, sometimes the boots on the ground must troubleshoot to find the problem. They are provided an address or general location and work quickly to find the source of the outage.
They have a job briefing (called a tailboard meeting) where they discuss the scope of the work, hazards involved and protection they will need.
Next, the crews coordinate with System Operations in the dispatch center. If one of the lines on the utility pole is energized, System Operations will put that feeder line on Hot Line Tag, which makes it safer for crews to work near it. System operators always double verify to make sure the correct line is put on hot line tag to further ensure the workers’ safety.
The linemen gear up with the proper personal protective equipment, including insulated sleeves, insulated gloves and hard hat. In cases where they climb a pole, they use double-fall protection harnesses and gaffs.
Once they are at the top of the pole – either climbing or in a bucket truck – they place rubber line hoses on top of the lines. The insulated sheaths cover the lines to reduce the likelihood of any contact.
Then, they are able to work safely to restore power for our Members.
WHAT IS A HOT LINE TAG?
Under normal conditions, if there’s a fault on a power line, it could take several seconds for it to trip, creating a safety hazard for the linemen. Seconds later, the line will power back up again, which poses an even greater risk if the lineman has already come into contact with it.
When a line is placed on hot line tag, the line trips within milliseconds and doesn’t come back on, which minimizes the danger for linemen. While the outage may cause an inconvenience for Members, please remember that our Employees’ lives are literally on the line and their safety is our top priority.