Being a utility line worker is one of the most dangerous jobs out there, as there are many things that can go wrong up on an electrical pole. That means that line worker safety is the priority, and Michael Scanlon, a St. Petersburg College Student and Work Methods Specialist for Duke Energy, has come up with a new way to keep line workers safe.
Line workers are tethered to the electrical pole with a safety belt that wraps around the pole and clips to the worker’s harness. Workers also have a secondary safety line, but it is vulnerable and could be cut. After hearing about an electrical worker who fell to his death when he accidentally cut his safety line with a chainsaw, Scanlon began exploring ways to eliminate that possibility altogether.
“I started looking at the chainsaw chaps that arborists wear as a possibility for the material,” he said, “and I wanted to use that to make a sleeve to go over the safety line.”
Scanlon, who is working on his Associate in Science Degree in Engineering Technology in SPC’s Engineering, Manufacturing and Building Arts department, brought the idea to a group project in Dr. Brian Bell’s Manufacturing Processes and Materials class.
“I already had the basic design in mind,” Scanlon said. “Dr. Bell and two other guys in my group worked with me to figure out the materials needed. It was a great opportunity to make it in class and see if it worked.”
What they came up with was a cover that zips over the safety belt and protects the line, but can be easily moved out of the way, if necessary.
“We made it and tested it and it worked,” Scanlon said. “It stopped the chainsaw and had maneuverability for climbing.”
Scanlon’s idea was adopted by Duke Energy, and is being employed by line workers now. He says he’s not motivated by potential income from the idea.
“I’m really just driven to make sure people are safe while they’re doing their jobs so that they can go home to their families,” he said.