Michelle Martychenko, supervisor of electric operations at Ameren Illinois’ Belleville operating center, and Laverne Etheridge, lineman and electric system coordination foreman, review some of the substation areas where copper thieves have struck in the Belleville operating center’s territory.
Sidebar: Five Ways to Keep You and Your Crew Safe Out in the Field
Greg Fernandez, a security investigator for Ameren Corp., offers these tips for keeping linemen safe on the job:
- Report suspicious activity. If you see someone loitering around a substation who doesn’t look like he or she should be there, call security. Always be aware of your surroundings.
- Park to exit. Back into a driveway or park in a location where you can easily drive off if you are in a dangerous situation. Also, make sure you drive with the windows up and your doors locked for your safety.
- Identify your location. Make sure others in your company know where you are working. You also should know exactly where you are stationed in case you need to ask for help.
- Don’t fight over the copper. While copper and other materials on your truck can be replaced, your personal safety is the top priority.
- Always check for copper grounds. If your utility is experiencing a rash of copper thefts, make sure you check the pole grounds on power poles and at substations before beginning work to avoid electrocution.