In mountainous terrain inhabited by bears and moose, and sparsely populated by humans, electric utilities of varying sizes operate with a patchwork of hydropower, natural gas and diesel-powered generation. Extreme weather conditions, months of darkness, animal interference and barriers to professional training create extreme hazards for lineworkers.
For those reasons, Alaska Power Association, Anchorage, will be partnering once again with NECA/IBEW Local 1547 to host 2022 Alaska Lineman Safety Week, May 2–6. Up to 20 lineworkers will participate.
Just as they did last year, the NECA/IBEW partnership will kick in $5,000 for the workshop, which will cost an estimated $15,000. Sponsors also will support the event at the NECA/IBEW Alaska Joint Electrical Apprenticeship and Training Trust’s Tom Cashen Training Center in Anchorage.
Don Maynor, loss control and safety specialist for ARECA Insurance Exchange and Alaska Power Association, plans to invite Mark Federico, a lineman who sustained life-altering injuries from an accident, to offer testament to the perils of working in the region and urge participants to heed best safety practices.
“It went well last year,” Maynor said. “I think his story impacted the attendees.”
The workshop will cover Equal Potential Zone bonding and grounding, test instruments and troubleshooting, advanced tree-clearing techniques, advanced aerial rescue and more.
“The biggest benefit last year came with bringing everybody together in a forum, sharing scenarios of what went wrong and talking it over,” said Cecil Colley, an instructor at the NECA/IBEW training center. “That allowed for a better understanding of how electricity works and how to stay out of harm’s way.”
Brady Hansen, owner and trainer at Written in Red Training, also will serve again as an instructor at the center. “Education, training and retraining are key to helping these linemen be safe but also for achieving dependable electrical power,” he said. “Society’s advancement hinges upon dependable electricity. We need it to maintain water quality, food safety and overall health. We need it to conduct business and for education to progress.”
Hansen trains lineworkers in other remote areas of the world.
“Participants also get to see what it’s like to belong to a brotherhood, where others have your back and can keep you safe,” he said.