Hurricane Sandy knocked utility work crews for a loop, for a bit

On Behalf of | Nov 16, 2012 | Workplace Injuries

To hear the national news coverage of the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy, one would think that the only places that suffered damage were the states on the coast. The damage suffered here in Pennsylvania could go down as one of the bigger untold stories of this massive natural disaster.

Pennsylvania may have escaped the brunt of the storm’s fury, but utilities confirmed that more than 1 million customers in the state lost electricity. It took nine days for work crews to restore service to all those people. Fortunately, there were no glaring instances of workplace injury among the work crews who were likely pressed to the limits of their capabilities.

As most everyone likely knows, electric utility workers face some of the most dangerous threats to life and limb in the best of times. When they are thrust into a disaster situation and are scrambling to get things back to normal, the risk of a mistake or a safety precaution being overlooked is only made worse. Any worker injured in the performance of such a task should be sure to seek out the information they need to be sure their rights and benefits are fully protected.

According to the state Public Utility Commission, 1.2 million customers in the eastern half of Pennsylvania were without power at the peak of the outages after Sandy. That was on Oct. 30. Top officials with the major electric companies recently told regulators that while Sandy did more damage in other states, it was still caused more damage to poles, wires and transformers in the Keystone State than any of the major weather emergencies of 2011.

But officials say those weather challenges helped this time. They say that by Nov. 8, nearly all service had been restored. They credit better planning, cooperation with government and communications as the reasons. They say social media outreach with customers proved to be a significant help.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Hurricane Sandy: Pennsylvania Damage Tops 2011 Storms, Executives Say,” Peter Jackson, The Associated Press, Nov. 14, 2012