Managing Worker Fatigue on Transmission/Distribution (TD) Line Work

The 2012 Bureau of Labor Statistics report revealed that electrical power line installers had a fatality rate of 56.5 deaths per 100,000 employees, higher than any other trade in the construction industry. The most commonly cited causes of transmission and distribution (TD) line worker fatalities were

  • equipment operator error,
  • improper use of safety devices,
  • mistakes and temporary lapses in judgment, and
  • violations of safety protocol.


All of these causes are exacerbated by fatigue – a reduction in mental acuity and physical stamina during extended work shifts in remote locations. Despite important investments in training and equipment, the aforementioned situation seems not to have achieved noticeable improvements. For this reason, fatigue has been recognized as a possible important contributor to TD line operations accidents.

Evaluating this hypothesis and determining a way to mitigate fatigue effects at work have been the main purposes of this research. Results of this study confirm fatigue as a main leading cause of mistakes, incidents and accidents among other negative outcomes.

This report presents a comprehensive summary of the research project and its main findings. The second section of this document describes the available previous research on the topic, defining fatigue and describing the leading causes of fatigue, acute and chronic consequences of fatigue, available tools to measure fatigue, and approaches to fatigue risk management. The third section of this document explains the methods used to understand how fatigue specifically affects TD power line operations, how it can be recognized in peers, and how fatigue can be managed. Finally, results and recommendations are provided.



Matthew R. Hallowell
Ulises Techera


University of Colorado at Boulder

Publication Date:

February 2016

Format & Size:

.pdf; 63 pages

Index Number:


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