Moving with the times: what it means to be a lineman in 2022

9th January, 2022

In the US, linemen have been working to keep us connected for almost two hundred years – and in that time, as the world has changed, the role of lineman has changed too. In fact, many would say that there’s never been a better time to be a lineman.

When the term ‘lineman’ was first coined back in the 19th century, it referred to those working on telegraph lines, setting the poles and stringing the wires between them. Back then, it was an incredibly hazardous job – in fact, approximately one in three linemen were killed on the job. Fortunately, the job looks very different today, and with electrification set to increase as adoption of electric vehicles rises, there’s likely to be a growing demand for linemen over the coming years.

So, what does it mean to be a lineman in 2022? In recent years, working as a lineman has become…


As they work with high-powered electricity cables high above the ground, being a power lineman is an inherently dangerous job, but health and safety standards have improved significantly over the past few decades. Twenty years ago, US linemen weren’t required to wear flame-resistant clothing, for example, whereas today linemen rarely work without flame-resistant clothing to protect them from arcs

Utilities companies have also recognised the importance of ensuring their linemen’s gear equips them to work safely. While linemen were once expected to free climb up a pole with just a belt around the pole and foot spikes, over time overhead linemen have adopted new gear, like wood pole fall restrictive devices, to prevent them from falling from a height. Linemen’s tools have also evolved to improve their safety. They no longer need to rely on unwieldy, potentially dangerous utility knives to prepare cables, for example, as our cable prep tools are designed with safety in mind. With shielded blades and ergonomic handles, it’s never been easier for linemen to get the job done safely and efficiently.

…less physically taxing

Working as a lineman has also always been a physically demanding career, but understandably, over the years linemen have developed ways to make their roles less physically taxing. Data has shown that linemen in states like Texas and Florida are increasingly choosing to work for municipal and district electrical cooperatives, for example, to reduce the amount of travel they’re required to do as part of their jobs

There’s also a growing number of tools designed to make it easier for linemen to carry out their work – and some of them have even been designed by linemen themselves! Andy Selacek had been a lineman for twenty years when he developed a prototype for Ripley’s US16 Drill Operated Jacket Removal Tool, for example. After years of tackling the difficult job of jacket removal, which required him to make the same repetitive motions and was incredibly taxing, Andy decided to create a tool that would take the strain of jacket removal off linemen. The US16 has therefore been designed with handy features such as an open-ended, feed-through design and is easy to operate with one hand. It’s tools like the US16 that are helping journeymen to become more efficient on the job and reduce the physical impact of the work on their bodies. 

…a more varied & interesting job

Those working as linemen today will know that no two days are the same – every job presents new challenges, and requires them to use different skills and tools. And as cables evolve, the growing number of cable sizes can also pose challenges for the job. This means that one of the key traits any electrical lineman needs is adaptability. Those who have the flexibility to adapt to the different equipment and cable sizes involved in their work will be best suited to thrive in the complex world of power utilities. 

However, personal flexibility can only take linemen so far – they also need flexible tools in their kit to enable them to get the job done right first time, every time. At Ripley Labs, our specialist engineers understand that electrical linemen need adaptable tools, so they design all of our tools for use in as many applications as possible. Our US15 Cable Slitter, for example, is compatible not only large diameter power cables, it also works well with telecom and fiber optic cables, and it can be quickly adjusted to suit a range of sizes. 

Whether you’ve just finished lineschool or you’ve been a lineman for a long time, having UtilityTool’s tools in your kit can help to make your job easier and more enjoyable. Discover our full range of tools for power linemen in our UtilityTool range


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