While most people think of this as a season for vacation and relaxation, N.C. co-op linemen have worked hard throughout the summer months to continue their year-round emphasis on job training and safety by attending cooperative-sponsored Technical Training Schools.
Based at Nash Community College in Rocky Mount, the program includes courses held in the classroom and outdoors on a special training field. The classes cover a wide range of topics including line construction, the National Electrical Safety Code, and leadership and team building. Linemen can work toward a Third Class Certificate, Advanced Certificate, Diploma or an Associate’s degree.
During the week of June 3, 30 students from 12 cooperatives attended the Advanced Line Construction Training School, which covers Work Zone Safety, the National Electric Safety Code, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 10-Hour Training, Competent Person Training for Trenching and Excavation, and Supervising Safety.
Twenty students from nine cooperatives also attended Underground Line Construction II the week of June 17. Students learned about underground troubleshooting, including fault location (primary and secondary), underground circuit protection, the makeup of 600 amp equipment, and the makeup of three phase enclosures with a review of the proper Underground Residential Distribution (URD) grounding procedures.
Thirty-four participants from 13 co-ops attended Advanced Leadership I Training the week of July 29-August 2. During the week, participants learned about leadership styles, time management skills, how to communicate with different audiences, team building and how to keep pace with the changes at their cooperative. Leadership is essential in training and the basis for creating a safety culture at every level.
The week of August 5, 13 participants from six cooperatives attended Overhead Line Construction IV, Session 2. The participants learned about Safety, Fuse and Breaker Operation, Meters and Meter Applications, Fault Indicators, Technology and GIS Management, and Primary and Secondary Troubleshooting, with a strong emphasis on Transformer Banking. This class was the test pilot for the Learning Management System “Moodle” coming in 2020.
Finally, the National Electric Safety Code (NESC), Module 2 training class was conducted the week of August 12 for 33 participants from 13 co-ops and Sandhills Utility Services Inc. Students learned about construction of overhead and underground distribution, the materials used, staking applications and maintenance procedures. The students also participated in a court trial to see how the code applies when a lawsuit is filed.
In 2018, approximately 400 co-op employees attended the training schools. Since the program began in 1998, 22 co-op linemen have graduated with their Associate’s Degree.