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Whatever it Takes - Powering life from a lineworker’s perspective

April 1st, 2024

Lineworkers are ranked as having one of the 10 most dangerous jobs in the country. The lineworkers at Rich Mountain Electric Cooperative work rain or shine, in often challenging conditions, to ensure you have reliable electricity.

We’re celebrating Lineworker Appreciation Day on April 8.

The Danger

A lot of people know linework is dangerous because the work is near high-voltage electricity. Move just the wrong way or lose focus for a split second, and it could be deadly. You have to be aware of your surroundings and the safety of the person next to you. Lineworkers work with an element of danger that requires concentration, and there is no margin for error. The environment compounds the pressure, because when you need power most is usually when the weather is worst. Our crews often work in storms with rain, wind, extreme heat and cold, in the dark or on the side of the road next to fast-moving traffic. Yes, it’s dangerous, but that’s what lineworkers are trained to do.

Many may not realize it, but lineworkers undergo years of training before they can officially be called a lineworker. New employees typically start as a groundperson, helping crews with tools and keeping job sites safe, then transition to apprentice status, which typically spans four years. After an apprenticeship, with thousands of hours of training under their belts, they transition to journeyman lineworker status –– that’s when they’re considered officially trained. But the education is ongoing. Lineworkers continuously receive training to stay mindful of safety requirements and up to date on the latest equipment and procedures.

The Physical Demand

The daily expectations of lineworkers are physically demanding, but you won’t hear any of them complain about that. Loading heavy materials and climbing poles and in and out of buckets are just a few of the strenuous tasks. A lot of times, lineworkers go places the trucks can’t, so they might be hiking through the woods loaded down with 40 pounds of personal protective equipment.

The Sacrifices

There are some sacrifices to being lineworkers. They are often first on the scene of an emergency, seeing things that are devastating like car accidents, structure fires and damage from severe storms. They don’t know what type of situations they’re going to face or when they’re going to face them. They get outage calls all hours and in the middle of the night. Our lineworkers have missed a lot of school events, ballgames and family dinners. Our lineworkers make sure there is nothing standing in the way of helping our friends and neighbors get back to normal life.

It’s Worth It

Our crews take a lot of pride in their work. Even when it’s cold and wet, they know they’re working to keep people warm. There’s a lot of satisfaction in hearing someone yell, “Thank you” from the window after the lights come back on or seeing people flipping the light switches on their porches after an outage is restored. No matter how tired lineworkers are or how long they work, that feeling always makes it worth it.

Our employees are members of this community. We live in the same neighborhoods. We shop at the same stores. Our kids go to the same schools. If your lights are off, there is a good chance ours are off, too.

If you see our lineworkers out in the community, be sure to shake their hands and thank them for their hard work and dedication.

Rich Mountain Electric lineworkers do what it takes to serve our members with reliable power.

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