A Day in the Life of a Lineworker

NLI lineworkers, from left, Dusten Hongslo, Nick Durrant, and Bill Murray prepare a line to install a regulator bank. Photo by Kristin Mettke

Every day is a different day at work for a lineworker. When a lineworker arrives in the morning, work for the day gets assigned to crews. In Sagle, this is usually 4 to 5 crews comprised of 2 to 5 lineworkers. Assigned work may include replacing a pole, installing a member’s electric service, checking meters, inspecting a substation or replacing underground cable.

There’s a bit of organized chaos in the morning as the line superintendent assigns out all the daily work among numerous crews. Some considerations for the daily assignments are road restrictions, equipment availability, whether traffic control is needed and if a planned outage has been coordinated with members.

Once the lineworkers receive assignments for the day, they determine what equipment is required and if there is anything special needed for the job, such as a pole trailer or rope pulling trailer. This is an important step since many of the job sites are far away from the office. A crew might be going to multiple locations to do several small projects and will need the materials for all those projects. Then vehicles and equipment are loaded.

Once on the job site, the lineworkers have a tailboard discussion that covers what needs to be done, the hazards and protection against the hazards. Tasks are then assigned to each crew member. If there is an apprentice on the crew, tasks will be assigned based on the apprentice’s training level, and new skills will be taught alongside a journeyman lineworker.

If additional line protection is needed for the job, one of the crew members will coordinate with NLI’s dispatch at the main office. Coordination with dispatch is also needed if there are outages planned for the work.

Then the construction work happens. At any point during the day, a crew or members of the crew may need to be redirected for an unplanned outage or other task that takes priority over the work being done at the job site.

After the work at a jobsite is complete, one of the lineworkers will communicate with NLI’s dispatch.

Once the crews return to the main office, trucks are cleaned up and restocked.

At the end of the workday, a lineworker’s job is not done. They might get calls for outages after work hours. This could be at 5:30 p.m. right as they sit down for dinner at home or 2 a.m. when they are asleep.

NLI appreciates the hard work and dedication of our lineworkers.

Kristin MettkeNorthern Lights Engineering & Operations Manager Kristin Mettke is an electrical engineer and has worked in the electric utility industry most of her career.