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Supplement to “Learning the Lines”


Dean Rhodes, coordinator of the Lineman Tech Center, had a knack for spotting strong linemen candidates when he helped hire linemen for Kentucky Utilities as a line supervisor there.

He’d look for candidates who liked working outdoors and didn’t mind challenging physical labor. After all those years in the business, he’s come to identify a few things that all successful linemen must know. Here they are, in his own words:

Safety, safety, safety
A good lineman has to be safe. No company will put up with it if he’s not. No one will want to work with him if he’s not. No one will respect or depend on him if he’s not. It has to be second nature to you.

Construction standards
You have to know the standard construction procedures, as outlined by the company that you’re working for, because they do differ from company to company. That way everyone stays safe.

Proper work procedures
You have to follow the order of how work should be done, as outlined in the safety work procedures of your crew. That helps you work safely and productively.

How to work well with others
Line work is not a one-person job. It’s always been a job that requires teamwork. It takes a joint effort to provide customers with the level of service they’re accustomed to, whether it’s in storm damage or everyday work. This is an industry in which you bond together as a family. You have to trust each other. You have to know what that lineman across the pole from you is going to do and he has to know what you’re going to do. Because you’re working with something that, if you make a mistake, could cost you your life. You have to work as a team.

How to stay calm
A lineman has to step out of the truck calm and collected, even in the wake of stressful situations. He has to stay focused on what he has to do. He can’t let the level of excitement around him—whether that’s sirens, police officers, emergency workers, or customers asking when the electric will be back on—bleed over into his work. You cannot do line work in an excited state of mind. The process of restoring electricity is a calm, thoughtful, and collected one.

To read the Kentucky Living July 2009 feature that goes along with this supplement, go to Learning the Lines

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