Safety Concerns Heard At Utility Board Meeting

BROKEN BOW— Safety was the topic of discussion at the Broken Bow Utilities Board of Public Works on Monday, September 9 as safety policies have been called into question by Mayor Jonathon Berghorst.

The concern stems from electrical workers being on call that are believed to be under qualified to do the job alone. Electrical Superintendent Jeremy Tarr quoted the safety book during the meeting, which lists the qualifications of linemen and some of the other safety requirements.

According to information relayed at the meeting, the City of Broken Bow uses four specific qualifications that each lineman must have before they are allowed to work as a lineman. The city only has one level of qualified electrical worker, where Custer Public Power has two, apprentice and journeyman.

According to Mayor Berghorst, CPPD requires that an electrical worker have at least 8,000 hours of work before they are classified as a journeyman and until that point are classified as an apprentice.

He noted that an apprentice is not allowed to be on call alone. He felt that some of the linemen working in the city are not qualified to be working alone and, for safety reasons, they should always be on call in pairs.

The board agreed that safety is the number one priority, but the current system has worked for years and is also in compliance with the safety book that was adopted by the Utility Board.

The current method for an on call lineman is to respond to the situation and determine if another person is needed or not. For example, a lineman who would need to do work on an above ground energized line could call for extra help if that lineman feels it be best for their safety.

The board, as well as Tarr, made it very clear that they would rather each lineman play it safe and ask for help or ask questions regardless of the situation.

The board did vote unanimously to continue the current practice of one lineman on call, with the possibility of looking at changing some of the safety policies with input from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and other municipalities.