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Mock powerlines help train heavy equipment operators

A local company is hoping others will take advantage of its new safe training facility. Located at Northern Mat & Bridge in Clairmont, de-energized powerlines have been set up to give heavy equipment operators experience working close to full scale transmission and distribution lines.

Health, Safety and Environment Manager Kelley Winter says they were inspired by the “mock powerlines” at Safety City in Grande Prairie.

“We use excavators to move our matting. We do a lot of work for transmission and distribution in congested work sites; we just want to make sure our operators’ skills are honed perfectly and they are prepared in case of an emergency.”

There were nearly 900 electrical incidents in the province in 2014. With five poles spaced roughly 25 feet apart, Winter believes they give a realistic and controlled environment in which to train.

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“We’ve actually hooked up a solar powered alarm system, so if any operator’s boom gets close to the overhead power line, it sets off an alarm which gives the worker an ability to recognize how close he is to the line.”

If the alarm goes off, an emergency response would also be practiced. Winter says they’d be willing to team up with other companies to make sure people get de-energized powerline training.

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