Electrical Hazards: How Power Linemen Face Dangers on the Job

Being a power lineman is not a job for the faint of heart. It is a dangerous occupation that requires workers to brave inclement weather, heights, and other hazards so ordinary citizens and businesses can maintain access to the power grid. One of the main dangers of this job is being exposed to live electrical currents. Here is what you need to know about the electrical hazards power linemen face each day.

Power Linemen and Electrical Hazards — A Dangerous Occupation

While being a power lineman is an important job, it’s also a dangerous one. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), electrical power installers and repairers are among the deadliest occupations in the United States.

Linemen are tasked with working on electrically energized power lines, often at great heights and in extreme conditions. These are serious hazards that can cause severe injuries or even death. Fortunately, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that employers identify and address these risks to keep workers safe.

Electrical Hazards Power Linemen Face

Here are the four most common electrical safety hazards power linemen face on the job:

1. Electrocution

Working with overhead and buried power lines creates a serious safety hazard for workers. These lines can carry up to 138 kV of electricity, which can be deadly when a person comes into direct contact with them. Even contact with a low-voltage line can send current through the body, cause burns, and have devastating consequences.


An electrocution injury is the most serious type of injury a power lineman can suffer. When direct contact is made with electrical currents, it interrupts the signals going to the brain. The heart can stop beating, leading to instant death.

2. Electric Shock

An electric shock is a non-fatal electrical injury. When a power lineman accidentally comes into contact with low to medium-voltage electrical currents, it can cause muscles to seize or twinge. A severe shock can make it difficult to let go of the source.

If an electric shock is strong enough, It can damage internal organs and even lead to broken or fractured bones. The effects of an electric shock can be temporary or permanent, depending on the severity of the accident.

3. Falls

Many power line workers climb utility poles or work from bucket trucks to get close to equipment for installation or repair. When electricity arcs, it can create small or large “explosions,” which can easily result in a worker falling from a height. This can lead to catastrophic injuries such as broken bones, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), and internal injuries.

4. Burns

When electricity comes in contact with the body, it can result in severe burns. Three types of burns are possible:

  • Contact burns — These happen when an electrical shock injures the outer layer of the skin or internal tissues.
  • Thermal burns — These burns result from heat generated by an electric arc.
  • Flame burns — These are burns resulting from an electric arc flash or resulting fire.

Burn injuries can happen at any time and place when doing electrical work, so workers need proper preparation and safeguards to prevent electrical accidents.

Staying Safe from Electrical Hazards

Here are several power lineman safety tips to reduce or eliminate electrical hazards.

1. Carefully Assess Job Sites

While a power lineman might perform similar tasks day after day, each job site will have different hazards. A qualified person should carefully assess a job site before work can start each day. If any hazards are present, those risks should be identified and addressed properly.

2. Use Personal Protective Equipment

Workers must wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when working around electricity. PPE, such as rubber gloves, hard hats, boots, and harnesses, should fit properly and be made from durable materials.

3. Use Cover-Up Equipment

Cover-up equipment is essential when working with electricity. This equipment prevents a worker from accidentally making contact with an energized line or prevents an energized line from accidentally contacting another structure.

4. Always Assume Power Lines Are Charged

Even when there are reports of power outages, workers should always assume that power lines are energized or that systems are unsafe. Using proper work procedures, wearing PPE, and using the correct safety equipment, such as double-insulated tools, can prevent serious accidents.

If you are a power lineman who has been injured on the job, it’s important to understand that your employer has a responsibility to provide a safe workplace free from electrical hazards. Lineman Injury Attorney is dedicated to offering workers up-to-date and helpful information regarding OSHA guidelines. This information can help workers avoid serious accidents or assist injured workers in asserting their rights after a workplace injury.

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