Lineman's injury highlights danger in working to keep lights on

Blake Stevens # State

LENOIR CITY, Tenn. (WATE) - The work required to keep our lights on isn't easy. Tuesday, Michael Bavousett was proof.

Clinton Police Department said a call came in around noon Tuesday about an employee with the Clinton Utilities Board was "likely electrocuted". He was taken to UT Medical Center.

His daughter, Micha wrote Tuesday:

"Some of his body was burned from the electricity. It went through his stomach and out of his shoulder. BUT they said he is alert, and going to be okay. Thank you to everyone who prayed for us. It's a miracle the electricity missed his heart. I'm sure the recovery won't be too easy so please still keep praying for him!! Thank you all!"

Daniel Mashburn is the Safety and Security Director at Lenoir City Utilities Board (LCUB).

He's responsible for audits, crew safety, and building security. Basically, he makes sure everyone is doing what they should be doing.

In total, LCUB has four crews and 35 linemen to serve nearly 80,000 customers in Lenoir City, West Knoxville, and Cedar Bluff.

While he works for another utility, he's thankful the CUB lineman injured is going to be okay.

"It's never good when somebody gets hurt on the job, especially when it's an electrocution accident. Those can be very serious, very severe. So, my first thought goes out to the family, the utility and the whole line community,"
he said.

He said his crew goes through a four-year apprenticeship program, involving different tiers and coursework coupled with on-the-job training. Workers are allowed to work in a bucket with hot or energized, conductors on their fourth year, he said.

All the training helps, but he explained there is no way to completely avoid injury.

"No matter what safety precautions you put in place, accidents can still happen in this job; however, with the right precautions in place, those accidents can greatly be reduced."

To further preparedness, he says every job comes with a pre-job briefing to identify potential hazards.

He says a hidden concern for utility workers is traffic. He asked drivers to be vigilant for signs for utility work or construction ahead. He said it could save someone's life.

While it's risky, he says his brothers and sisters in the lineman and utility community take pride in their work.

"It's not a pretty job, but at the end of the day, people are thankful. we all like our electricity, our air conditioner, our wifi..."