Providing accurate, effective training to workers is one of the electric utility industry’s most pressing challenges. From my perspective, there are not enough appropriately qualified trainers to fill the open jobs available. As our industry’s attrition rate continues to increase, will we be able to provide the right training to new and existing employees? Each day, there are lineworkers being given work to do for which they are not adequately trained, endangering them and their co-workers. We need trainers to help correct this problem so that fewer lineworkers are hurt on the job.
I mentioned that our industry has a shortage of “appropriately qualified” trainers. There certainly are a number of individuals working for utilities and contractors who hold positions that have the word “training” or “trainer” in the title. But some of those individuals are newer lineworkers with limited experience working with crews. That can be a problem for their trainees, who need and rely on the guidance of trainers with real-life experience about how to plan and execute specific job tasks. Too many of these trainers lack a basic understanding of system grounding, distribution cover-up, and switching and tagging for employee protection. OSHA’s 29 CFR 1910.269 standard was updated in 2014, and our industry’s trainers must know and train students in accordance with those regulations.