During assembly or repair work, the overhead line workers ascend the lattice towers using climbing bolts or stirrups on the corner posts, or via central access ladders. Depending on the work assignment and local conditions, they might also use assembly platforms, attached between the pylon structures and special conductor ropes. For work on the sections between the poles, there are motorized cable trolleys suspended on the conductor cables. In each case, personal protection equipment (PPE) is used to secure the linesmen – including gear such as fall arrester devices, safety harnesses, safety ropes with snap hooks or rope clamps. To prevent the technicians from falling from extreme heights, similarly to mountain climbers, the general conditions have to be carefully planned out and ensured. Anyone working in the vicinity of 380,000-volt power lines needs to rely on the fact that the power lines they are working on, or that run close to the work site, are switched off. More importantly, they need to know exactly which lines on which side of the pylon this may not apply to.
Manufacturer Preising from Wipperfürth, for example, is a supplier of fall protection systems used to protect overhead line workers. Managing Director Paul-Eric Preising says: “As with all extreme professions, a single careless mistake can cost an employee their life. Personal fall protection equipment plays a key role in protecting yourself.” It is – almost literally – the final safety net to prevent the worst case. But the safety requirements in overhead line construction go even further: The companies involved are required to have special rescue concepts for each installation step. For example, if a technician has health problems or an accident, it must be ensured that they can be safely brought back to the ground at any given time. SPIE Germany & Central Europe, based in Ratingen near Düsseldorf, is one of Preising’s major customers. They employ overhead line workers, who in turn work for SPIE’s clients and train their employees regularly. Thomas Hartmann, Head of the “Health, Safety, Environment, Quality” (HSEQ) department at SPIE, emphasizes: “In addition to the actual activities and general safety guidelines, the proper use of personal protective equipment is a key topic in training courses and practical training.”