Lineman (occupation)

Lineman (Occupation)

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Lineman (occupation)

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A lineman (American English) or linesman (English), also occasionally called a lineworker or a powerline technician (PLT), is a tradesman who constructs and maintains electric power transmission and distribution facilities. The term is also used for those who install and maintain telephone, telegraph, cable TV and more recent fibre optic lines.

The term refers to those who work in generally outdoor installation and maintenance jobs. Those who install and maintain electrical wiring inside buildings are electricians.


The occupation began with the widespread use of the telegraph in the 1840s. Telegraph lines could be strung on trees, but wooden poles were quickly adopted as the method of choice. The term 'lineman' was used for those who set wooden poles and strung the wire. The term continued in use with the invention of the telephone in the 1870s and the beginnings of electrification in the 1890s.

This new electrical power work proved to be much more hazardous than telegraph or telephone work because of the risk of electrocution. Between the 1890s and the 1930s, line work was considered one of the most hazardous jobs in existence. Approximately 1 in 3 linemen were killed on the job, mostly from electrocution. This led to the formation of labor organizations to represent the workers and advocate for their safety. The most important of these labor organizations in the United States, still in existence today, is the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. This...
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