A new safety program that would help co-op lineworkers avoid common injuries is being developed by Joe McElroy, MECA safety director, and Heather Johnson, an exercise physiologist from WMU. It focuses on offering a stretching program that would help lineworkers avoid muscle strains.

Currently, the program is being tested at Midwest Energy and Holland Board of Public Utilities. McElroy is working with Johnson to help her learn how the lineworkers are currently working and where. “The work we do is ergonomically incorrect, and even though there have been a lot of inventions in the trade, there are still lots of trouble areas for injuries that could be corrected.”

McElroy says Johnson is also watching the lineworker safety training videos and is developing stretches that will help alleviate strains and injuries.

“Last year there was an estimated $250,000 worth of strains and related injuries among both the state’s electric co-ops and municipal utilities – that’s why we’re trying to develop this new program,” McElroy says. At the national Safety Expo in Louisville, KY, a speaker asked about how many utilities had an ergonomics program and the response was that about 30 percent of munis and IOUs nationally are doing a stretching program. McElroy says he is giving Johnson information on what co-ops are doing in the field and where these competitive motion/chronic injuries are coming from.