Common Causes of Power Lineman Injuries and OSHA Compliance

Every year, thousands of power linemen get hurt, and hundreds lose their lives from on-the-job accidents. What’s tragic and frustrating about this is that nearly all of these accidents are preventable. This is an incredibly dangerous industry, which is why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has created compliance measures to keep workers safe. Here are some of the most common causes of power lineman injuries and how OSHA compliance could prevent these tragedies.


Working around live electricity is one of the most serious dangers power linemen face. Electrocution dangers can come from a variety of sources, such as overhead and underground power lines, generators, extension cords, and electrical equipment used on the job.

  • Power Lines — These lines can carry thousands of volts of electricity, and making direct contact with them can be deadly. OSHA recommends that workers know where all lines are located, always assume lines are energized, remain at least 10 feet away from overhead lines, and de-energize lines properly before working on them.
  • Generators — Workers should ensure the circuit breaker is off and locked out prior to starting to prevent electrocution.
  • Equipment — Use only undamaged and approved equipment and use GFCIs to prevent short circuits and electrocution.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 700 workers died in falls to lower levels in 2022, accounting for roughly 80% of all fatal workplace injuries for the entire year. Power linemen are particularly exposed to these types of accidents because they are tasked with installing and repairing systems at significant heights.

OSHA recommends that employers prioritize fall protection to safeguard workers from serious injury or death. Specifically, employers offer adequate training, provide personal protective equipment, and ensure working conditions are free of known dangers. For example, guardrails and toeboards should be provided if there is a danger that a worker could fall from an elevated platform. Workers should wear harnesses when working from heights, even while inside bucket trucks.

Confined Spaces

It might seem like power linemen work in confined spaces, but they definitely do. A confined space is any area with limited access and exit, which may also have poor ventilation or other hazards. Confined spaces can include places like turbines, boilers, cooling towers, vaults, and transformers. Working with electricity in confined spaces can be particularly hazardous for workers, who may be harmed by electrocution, fires, or asphyxiation.

Workers must be trained on how to safely operate in confined spaces to avoid serious injury. Before entering a confined space, a qualified individual should assess the situation to identify and address any hazards. Finally, workers should wear proper safety equipment while working in these environments.

Fires and Explosions

Working with high-voltage electricity creates a significant risk of explosions and fires, which can cause a wide variety of workplace injuries and even death. Additionally, many power linemen are called out to work during wildfires, which creates another serious risk of injury from fires.

Severe burns can take place from an electrical current as well as from fires. Powerlines can cause fires due to equipment failure, contact with vegetation, and downed lines. Any public or private utility company should have procedures and strategies in place to keep linemen safe from fires and explosions.

Workers should be given regular job briefings to ensure they understand the hazards present at a job site and the protective measures they should use. Power linemen should be provided with rubber protective equipment to keep them safe from electrical hazards.

Environmental Stress

Power linemen face multiple environmental hazards on the job. They are often asked to perform work in the harshest conditions, such as in the middle of snow, ice, or rainstorms or in extreme cold or heat. This can make regular tasks, such as working from heights, even more dangerous and stressful.

Employers must ensure that there is enough coverage so that workers are asked to perform dangerous work while exhausted. Workers should also be provided with adequate safety gear and protective clothing to protect against exposure to extreme temperatures, precipitation, and wind. Adequate hydration and breaks are essential when working under these conditions. Finally, safety equipment like harnesses can provide stability on slippery surfaces when working from heights.

If you are a power lineman who has been hurt on the job, it’s important to understand that your employer has a responsibility to provide a safe workplace. Lineman Injury Attorney’s mission is to offer knowledgeable and authoritative information to workers regarding OSHA’s guidelines. We want to help workers to understand their rights before and after a workplace injury.

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