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Skills You'll Need

Line workers encounter serious hazards on their jobs and must follow safety procedures to minimize danger. For example, workers must wear safety equipment when entering underground manholes and test for the presence of gas before going underground.

Specifically, electric power-line workers have hazardous jobs. A worker can be electrocuted if he or she comes in contact with a live cable on a high-voltage power line. When workers engage live wires, they use electrically insulated protective devices and tools to minimize their risk.

Power lines are typically higher than telephone lines, increasing the risk of severe injury from a fall. To prevent injuries, line installers use fall-protection equipment when working on poles or towers. Safety procedures and training have significantly reduced the danger for line workers. However, the occupation is still among the most dangerous. As a result, telecommunications and electrical line workers have a rate of injuries and illnesses that is higher than the national average.

Besides caution, line workers should also have the following qualities to allow them to conduct their jobs:

  • Color vision. Workers who handle electrical wires and cables must be able to distinguish colors because the wires and cables are often color coded.
  • Mechanical skills. Line installers and repairers must have the knowledge and skills to repair or replace complex electrical and telecommunications lines and equipment.
  • Physical stamina. Line installers and repairers often must climb poles and work at great heights with heavy tools and equipment. Therefore, installers and repairers should be able to work for long periods without tiring easily.
  • Physical strength. Line installers and repairers must be strong enough to lift heavy tools, cables, and equipment on a regular basis.
  • Teamwork. Because workers often rely on their fellow crew members for their safety, teamwork is critical.
  • Technical skills. Line installers use sophisticated diagnostic equipment on circuit breakers, switches, and transformers. They must be familiar with electrical systems and the appropriate tools needed to fix and maintain them.
  • Troubleshooting skills. Line installers and repairers must be able to diagnose problems in increasingly complex electrical systems and telecommunication lines.
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