Cass County Electric Co-Op Teaches Workers New Safety Skills

The training is part of Electrical Safety Month

FARGO, N.D. — For several hours, line workers rose up in a bucket truck, scaled an electrical pole in tree–climbing spikes, and tried to save an 180–pound dummy from possible disaster.

“They’re learning proper rigging, proper lifting skills, proper, you know, being able to bring them down safely, are just some of the main skills that they’re learning, and then also, just having the practice of utilizing the belting climbing poles is important as well,” said Jodi Bullinger, the Vice President of Engineering and Operations for the Cass County Electric Cooperative.

The Cass County Electric Co–Op puts their workers through this drill every year as part of a requirement from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

But even the simulation doesn’t capture the true emotion of a pole–top emergency.

“This is perfect conditions. This is not the way it is. I mean if this is a real–life situation, they have to deal with, you know, the adrenaline running through them, make sure they call in the mayday call, get 911 coming,” said Bullinger.

One of the line workers, Gary Will, has worked for Cass County Electric Cooperative for the last 32 years and he says the training has changed ever since he started.

“Oh there’s a lot less climbing we used to do, and when I got here, we didn’t have as many bucket trucks so we got a lot better equipment,” said Will.

Will says new technology has made it easier to do his job.

“Now with our new belts and stuff, we used to, they call it now ‘buck squeeze’ where you can’t, you don’t really, they let you fall. The old way you had belts you could just unhook and go. You’d free-hand down,” said Will.

But in the midst of Electrical Safety Month, Will says that safety is always the top priority.

Bullinger says there hasn’t been a pole–top rescue for the Cass County Co–Op since she started working there 24 years ago, but she says the training falls in line with the organization’s goal of having safety first.

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