Powerline technicians construct, maintain and repair overhead and underground electrical power transmission and distribution systems. In some jurisdictions, powerline technicians also construct, maintain and repair communication networks. In larger utilities, powerline technicians may also specialize in one of the following areas: transmission lines, overhead and underground distribution, communication networks, and electrical power stations.
Powerline technicians erect and maintain steel, wood or concrete poles, towers and guy wires. They install, maintain and repair overhead and underground power lines and cables, and other associated equipment such as insulators, conductors, lightning arrestors, switches, transformers and lighting systems.
They splice, solder and terminate conductors and related wiring to connect power distribution and transmission networks. Powerline technicians may also be called upon to perform stringing operations encompassing electrical/data and telephone systems incorporated into an outdoor transmission distribution system.
Powerline technicians work outside in all weathers. The work always involves travel to and from the work site, which is often in remote areas necessitating the use of a variety of access equipment such as all-terrain vehicles, helicopters, aircraft, and watercraft. They climb and maintain their balance while working overhead on poles and towers. They also work in confined spaces such as trenches and tunnels. The work often requires considerable standing, bending, crawling, lifting, climbing, pulling, and reaching and may be conducted in cramped, confined spaces or on poles and towers at great heights. Hazards include electric shocks, burns, and falls. Powerline technicians may work a 40-hour week; however, emergencies may require long hours in inclement weather.
Powerline technicians are required to have good mechanical aptitude, the ability to lift heavy objects, the ability to work at heights in varying extreme climates, a thorough knowledge of the principles of electricity, power transmission and distribution systems, and communication systems, and familiarity with the materials and techniques of construction. All powerline technicians are required to be competent in the use and care of a variety of vehicles and equipment such as articulated bucket trucks, digger derricks, mobile cranes, and trenchers as well as a variety of hand, power, electrical testing, and "hot line" tools and equipment.
All electrical wiring and installations must conform to the Canadian Standard Association (CSA) standards and codes or to the provincial or territorial power supply utility standards. Therefore, powerline technicians must be thoroughly familiar with the applicable sections of those documents. For safety, permits and other regulations they follow local electrical, building and safety codes.
Powerline technicians may work alone with minimal supervision, and they may supervise others.
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