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Incident Prevention Magazine

David Spooner

Confessions of a Complacent Lineman

If you have been working in the same role for a while, you know your job. People look up to you because you know what you’re doing. They count on you to get the job done the right way. You have confidence in what you do, too. But have you noticed yourself taking a few shortcuts lately, telling yourself, “I’ve done this work every day for years – I know what I’m doing”? If so, it may be time to rethink things. It’s exactly that kind of complacency that got me in trouble.

In early 2005, I was a lineman on a one-man service truck. I had been a journeyman for 20 years, so I was pretty comfortable with my skills. My main responsibilities were to catch all trouble, run temporary and permanent services, and work on streetlights. The district I worked in was very large; it took about 90 minutes to drive from one end to the other. One day, I had an order to tap up a service and set 10 meters on a condominium complex in Edisto Beach, South Carolina, which was at the far end of our service territory. The UG service was a parallel 300-MCM single-phase service. The line crew out of my base yard had been there the day before to run the service, make up the gang can and put the lugs on the transformer side of the service. Since there was no city approval when they ran the service, they did not heat it up. My job was to tap it up and set the meters. The approval had come in during the late afternoon the day before.

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