At ELTI students learn the proper handling of dozens of tools. From pop tools and chain hoists, to bracing bits and wire grips. However, there are four tools that a graduating apprentice must have on their body at all times once they join a line crew. Those are: Klein’s, channel locks, electrical tape, and a skinning knife.
When on storm in Rome earlier in 2021, I helped my lineman splice in new #2 triplex into a span that had fallen across a road (de-energized, by the way). I had the right length of triplex, and the correct pop tool, but I forgot a roll of 2″ tape in the truck.
This displeased my lineman and he sent me off at a sprint to go get tape. I returned and expected to get to work on the splice, but was told to drop and bang out twenty pushups for the crime of not having tape. He started on the splice while I got some extra bodyweight training.
The lesson was clear – ALWAYS have tape!
After that moment I vowed to be as prepared as possible. There aren’t many expectations for a new groundman, and an easy one to consistently hit is having the necessary tools to perform the most common jobs.
I keep my Klein’s and channel locks in my right back pocket, my knife slipped into my front right pocket, and a roll of tape in each side pocket of my safety vest.
I’ve lost count of the number of times my lineman or foreman has yelled at me for a roll of tape or to borrow my channel locks. Since that lesson I never leave the truck without my must-have tools, and I’m never wasting valuable time, which means I’m helping my crew do our work more efficiently. Even though I’m “just a groundman,” I can have a positive impact on my crew by staying prepared with the tools I learned to use at the Elite Lineman Training Institute.