Falls and electrocutions are the main causes of fatal injuries for power linemen, who often have to work in storms and cold to restore power.
Surprisingly, however, bad weather is not as much of a risk factor as one might think, according to Jim Tomaseski, director of safety and health for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
After high winds or ice storms cut power, the lines are de-energized, he said, making them much safer to work with. On jobs in regular weather, linemen may be dealing with thousands of volts.
Fatalities have dropped due to better training, tools and work practices. The emphasis, according to Tomaseski, has shifted a bit to safety from productivity.
"We're trying to perfect our work practices so we're not killing people trying to keep the lights on," he said.