Even facing restrictions in the pandemic, hands-on learning continues to take place year-round for participants in the Hoosier Energy Apprentice Training and Safety program. With altered schedules, masks and social distances, lineworkers are honing their troubleshooting skills so they can identify situations encountered in the field.
“Interacting with underground components is becoming more and more a greater part of a lineman’s everyday job,” said Brandon Gentry, Hoosier Energy safety and training specialist.
When an electric cooperative hires a line apprentice, that person goes through a four-year, 8,000-hour on-the-job training program that prepares them in skills necessary to do their jobs safely and efficiently. From learning how to climb and descend a pole to handling 7,200 volts of electricity, apprentices also receive classroom training on everything from the theory of electricity to how to use personal protection equipment.
According to Gentry, having apprentices learn at Hoosier Energy’s training center offers consistency across the membership regardless of co-op size or resources. “What it boils down to is safety,” he said. “It’s all about our members and providing a better training service for them to be more productive and go out and troubleshoot in a timely manner.”