Celebrate those who keep the lights on

You may not think about them until the power goes out, but electric lineworkers protect our homes and communities 24 hours a day. In April, we celebrate Lineworker Appreciation Day to honor those who power our lives. Here are some quick facts about lineworkers and the work they do.

Lineworker history. Lineworkers first appeared during the 1840s to spread telegraph service across the U.S., stringing wires between trees and other natural objects. It didn’t take long to realize tall poles were more practical.

What lineworkers do. Restoring electricity after a power outage is just one of their duties. Lineworkers also install and connect new power lines to homes and businesses, maintain and perform upgrades to improve the electric grid, diagnose and pinpoint power delivery issues, plan and manage large-scale projects, and ensure safe work practices.

Lineworkers are responsible for maintaining and upgrading the nation’s electric grid, which connects more than 7,300 power plants to 145 million consumers through 60,000 miles of high-voltage lines, millions of miles of distribution lines and more than 50 million transformers.

Geared for safety. Lineworkers climb with up to 40 pounds of safety gear and tools. To stay safe while working, they typically wear hard hats, safety glasses, flame-resistant clothing, arc flash protective clothes, rubber gloves and sleeves, climbing belts and fall-protection harnesses.

The wild side. Squirrels, snakes and birds are major causes of power outages, and lineworkers see plenty of them while working. When your office is outdoors, these encounters are part of the job.

On-the-job training. Becoming a journeyman lineworker typically requires a high school diploma or equivalent, training and a paid apprenticeship, which typically spans four years. Apprentice lineworkers receive hands-on training in the field before advancing to journeyman status.

Inspiring safety. Each year, roughly 60,000 lineworkers respond to devastating storms and the damage left behind. In addition to extreme weather, lineworkers face many dangers, including electric shock, falls from elevated work locations and roadside traffic accidents. High injury rates among early lineworkers led to the creation of apprenticeship programs and organized labor throughout the industry.

Safety is always the No. 1 priority, which is why lineworkers continuously receive training to stay mindful of safety requirements and up to date on the latest equipment and procedures. Lineworkers power our lives. The next time you see one, remember to thank them for the essential work they do.