Linemen often ask about the life expectancy of a hotstick. While there is no exact answer to this question, it can range anywhere from hours or days for a hotstick that is abused and damaged, to years or decades for a hot stick that is well cared for and maintained. While the hours or days is hopefully the exception, on occasion a hotstick does come back to the factory with tire tread marks on it or with damage that clearly indicates it was dropped from some height, probably around the height of the primary on a wood pole. While an “accident” can cut the life of a hot stick short, there are a number of steps in the care and maintenance of a hot stick that can result in many years or even decades of service and protection for the linemen using them.
In the event of a fault current, milliohms can make the difference between a lineman going home for the day or being seriously injured or killed. With fault currents in the tens of thousands of amps or more, the parallel path to the lineman needs a resistance so low that milliohms do make a difference.
Recent updates to OSHA 1910.269(n) and 1926.962 have emphasized the responsibility of the employer to ensure their personal protective grounding equipment and practices are adequate to protect employees from hazardous differences in electrical potential. One important aspect that is often overlooked is the care and maintenance of the grounding equipment.
“We have been searching for better ways to implement our policy for substation grounding almost since we adopted it. While the grounding equipment we’ve been using is the widely-accepted standard for this application, it has always had room for improvement in practice,” shared a utility.