Lines staff trained on safety

'There's no room for error'

ANNA WILLIAMS
Last updated 13:28 21/05/2014
Marlborough lines staff
DEREK FLYNN/Fairfax NZ
NO ROOM FOR ERRORL Mike Field is "rescued" by colleagues Ian Forbes (left) and Hamish Stevenson during a simulated electrocution incident.

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A Marlborough Lines linesman was rescued at the top of a power pole by two colleagues yesterday as part of an annual safety training course.

The electricity provider employs 34 linesmen and delivers electricity to more than 24,000 customers in Marlborough.

Marlborough Lines resource manager Rex Lawrence said safety day was all about going through different procedures and making sure staff knew what to do in an emergency.

About 100 staff from both the Marlborough Lines base at Taylor Pass Rd in Blenheim and the network division on Alfred St attended the course.

A man hanging from a power pole after simulating an electric shock was one of the activities used to teach staff how to get an injured person down from a pole.

Lawrence, who has worked for Marlborough Lines for 35 years, said the rescue technique had never been put into practice while he had been there.

A man was electrocuted in the 1970s, but he said he didn't know of any other serious incidents.

Linesmen, inspectors, arborists, cablers, and anyone with an electrical registration was required to participate in the pole top and bucket rescue training.

Lawrence, who started as a surveyor before becoming a line mechanic trainee was one of the first two people in Marlborough to train in "glove and barrier", which sees linesmen dressed in a rubber suit, using their hands to work on lines from an insulated bucket.

Ten Marlborough Lines staff were now trained in glove and barrier, he said.

The training was extensive.

"It's drummed into everyone. There's no room for error. If they make a mistake, it's not good."

As well as rescues, staff practiced climbing a wooden pole using climbing irons and rope, a common technique about 20 or 30 years ago, but rarely used today.

In remote areas such as the Marlborough Sounds, men would climb the poles using metal spikes attached to their boots instead of using a ladder, which was how the lines were built in the Sounds in the 1970s.

Lines foreman Nigel Schultz, who has clocked up 6500 hours of live line work, said climbing the poles without a ladder was something the guys would probably never do again, but they still needed to know how.

Staff also had a six month first aid and CPR refresher course, as well as learning about new networks in the control room and experts sharing their knowledge on how the system works.

Marlborough Lines services about 3300 kilometres of lines, stretching from Waipapa Point on the east coast to 5km north of Rai Valley, to Wash Bridge, about 60 kilometres from Renwick.

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- The Marlborough Express

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