To lower the risk of injury and worker fatigue, many hand tools such as scissor-type cable cutters have been replaced with hydraulic battery-powered or cartridge-actuated cutting tools. More importantly, utilities have migrated away from manually operated hand tools in many situations to keep workers out of harm's way. Power-actuated tools can be operated remotely via a lanyard trigger mechanism, distancing the worker from the cutting activity.

Hydraulic-powered cable cutters typically consist of a pair of cutter jaws driven by a hydraulic piston-cylinder assembly that opens and closes when the operator presses the finger lever. Power is delivered to the tool via hosing from the lineman's auxiliary circuit on the truck or a portable hydraulic power generator. In vault enclosures, the linemen secure the tool to the cable and operate the tool from outside the enclosure using a small rope and trigger assemble. The cutting action takes only a few seconds to complete. These hydraulic power tools also have been adapted to spike underground cable.

Some linemen prefer the hydraulic tool over the cartridge-activated tool, even though it requires extra hosing and auxiliary hydraulic equipment, because it is quick and easy-to-use. In the top, the hydraulic cable cutter has been clamped around a 1000CLP-size cable with a (yellow) lanyard attached to the trigger. The 12-kV circuit is located in a vault in the Huntington Beach service district feed by the Shawnee substation in Westminster, California. The circuit also feeds the Santa Ana and Fullerton districts.

As required, workers operate the cutter tool standing outside the vault and out of the line of a potential arc-flash when a cable is cut or spiked. In the bottom photo, SCE E-Crew foreman Ralph Curatola and lineman Rick Austin also wear “Nomex” fire-retardant PPE coveralls when working around energized circuits as added protection from the risks of arcs and flash fires.