The Dangerous Lives of Lineworkers
Every day, lineworkers face extreme conditions and high-voltage hazards in order to keep electricity flowing into our homes and businesses.
These highly-skilled men and women are trained to work efficiently, safely and collaboratively. As the jobs get more complex and dangerous, the equipment required to work safely changes.
Before utilities began performing live line barehand work (maintaining overhead power lines while electricity is flowing), the only way to conduct maintenance work on the electricity system was to schedule an outage. Working with energized lines allows utilities to reliably provide power to customers who depend on uninterrupted service in Alberta but extra protection and training are needed to keep lineworkers safe.
Lineworkers use specialized equipment and gear that plays a key role in keeping workers safe. Non-conductive live line ropes and other tools are tested to ensure that there’s been no contamination and that they won’t conduct electricity.
Trucks, which use non-conductive fibreglass arms and buckets, are put through the "Soak Test". The truck makes contact with the line. Then, the electrical current travelling to the truck is measured for three minutes. During the test, the current is so minor that it is measured in micro-amps. The acceptable amount of current that can run through equipment on a 500-kilovolt (500,000 volts) transmission line is 289 micro-amps — that's less than half of one percent!
Lineworkers are trained to work in close proximity to power lines. If you're working around overhead power lines, always remain at least 7 metres away at all times. If your work requires you to be within 7 metres of an overhead power line, please contact your local utility company.