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Why Old Guys Should Tell Stories

When I was young and starting my apprenticeship, I was told that I would know three linemen that died, statistically speaking, before I retired.

I thought how could that be, if everyone preaches safety and follows the rules. Everybody I know listens, pays attention and is keen to learn everything that keeps them safe. Increase your knowledge about everything you put your hands on, work practices, limits of approach, rigging, weights and safe handling methods. 

I can tell you the rules of thumbs that I use for the safe work loads of all the ropes, slings, live line tools, wire sizes and ampacities, guy wires tensile strengths, pole shear strengths and machinery and safe work loads of jibs, cranes, or artesian booms. 

Armed with live line procedures, safety practices and OSHA and NIOSH and IEEE standards

my arsenal of the way things should be done is powerful. 

Okay, my confidence in the trade is strong and yes, I would discuss pretty well any subject from UHV to underground and cable procedures. 

After working, both internationally and at home, at everything from hole digging by hand to sitting at the vice precedents table with fellow line managers, I think my opinions matter! 

Well, my father told me once that last year's batting average doesn’t matter this year, unless you prove you are as good as your reputation says you are! Prove it today. 

The prediction was true. After working all my life as a lineman, I knew three linemen that were killed. Friends of mine. In my different roles, I dealt with at least six accidents, personally, that were fatalities, which are hard to forget! PTSD wasn’t named in those years. 

Linemen, whom I totally looked up to and trusted with my life, have been injured and recovered to be incredible examples of good husbands, safety guys or trainers. 

Telling stories to apprentices, school classes, trainers, engineers, designers, hole diggers, flaggers, machine operators, crane people, construction people working in proximity, hell, anyone, who should listen. It is our job! 

When it comes to safety around electricity, we owe it to people, both young and old, to shoot our mouths off!  If just one person acts a bit safer because we reminded them to, then maybe the predictions or safety statistics would be lower.

I say spill the knowledge before you take it to the grave! To the younger people I say, listen before there are no more people telling stories. Knowledge and rules were built in blood! 

Bruce Masse – Trouble Technician


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