Powerline Technician Red Seal Occupational Standard (RSOS)

The Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA) recognizes this Red Seal Occupational Standard (RSOS) as the Red Seal standard for the Powerline Technician trade.

Red Seal Occupational Standard Series

Disponible en français sous le titre : Monteur/monteuse de lignes sous tension

NOC: 7244

Designation Year: 1976

RSOS Products for Download

The Powerline Technician Red Seal Occupational Standard is developed by Canadian trade representatives. It collects information about the trade as it is practiced across Canada.

This RSOS information is combined in several ways to generate several RSOS Products, each of these is based on information contained in the complete RSOS, and is geared to user needs:

Product Purpose
Red Seal Occupational Standard - Powerline Technician A complete description of all trade activities, skills and knowledge. The Standard defines the trade by collecting and organizing elements together.
Trade Profile - Powerline Technician A quick snapshot of all trade activities in the standard. It can be used to self-assess experience. It can be used to introduce a concise summary of all trade activities to those wanting to learn about the trade. It can also be used for gap analysis.
Red Seal Exam Self-Assessment Guide – Powerline Technician (PDF, 1.0 MB) Use this self-assessment tool to rate your own understanding and experience with the tasks of the trade that are on the Red Seal examination.

General Information

Description of the Powerline Technician Trade

“Powerline Technician” is this trade’s official Red Seal occupational title approved by the CCDA. This standard covers tasks performed by powerline technicians in Canada.

Powerline technicians construct, operate, maintain and repair overhead, underground and underwater electrical transmission and distribution systems. They install, maintain and repair overhead, underground and underwater powerlines and cables, and other associated equipment such as insulators, conductors, lightning arrestors, switches, metering systems, transformers and lighting systems. They erect and maintain steel, wood, fibreglass, laminate and concrete poles, structures and other related hardware. They splice and terminate conductors and related wiring to connect power distribution and transmission networks. In some jurisdictions, powerline technicians may also install and transfer communication devices such as cellular antennas and communication lines.

Powerline technicians are employed by electric power generation, transmission or distribution companies, powerline contractors and public utility commissions. Powerline technicians may also specialize in one of the following areas: transmission lines, overhead or underground distribution systems, communication networks and electrical power stations. They may also be employed in the mining, construction or oilfield sector.

Powerline technicians require good communication skills to coordinate and facilitate work with customers, co-workers and other trades. They also require strong analytical skills in order to read and interpret diagrams, drawings and specifications. They need to be able to plan their work; including making considerations to prevent damage during construction to local wildlife habitats. They must have good mechanical aptitude to install, troubleshoot and repair equipment. They must also have good vision and the ability to distinguish colours. The ability to adapt to change and a willingness to keep up with new developments is important to this trade.

Powerline technicians work outdoors at various worksites, at any hour and in any weather. The work always involves travel to and from the worksite, which is often in remote areas, necessitating the use of a variety of access equipment such as all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, aircrafts and watercrafts.

Occupational hazards in this trade are working with high voltage equipment, working in confined spaces, working at heights, and in extreme weather and environmental conditions. This also could include exposure to asbestos, silica dust, mercury, lead and PCBs.

The work may be strenuous and requires frequent heavy lifting, working in awkward positions, carrying and reaching. Getting to powerlines requires climbing poles and structures, working from aerial work platforms and entering maintenance holes and underground vaults.

This standard recognizes similarities or overlaps with the work of construction electricians and industrial electricians. Powerline technicians work with a wide variety of tradespersons, engineers and inspectors.

With experience, powerline technicians may act as mentors and trainers to apprentices in the trade. They may advance to senior journeyperson, foreperson, supervisory or managerial positions. They can also transfer their skills to related occupations in areas such as design, planning, safety, technical support services and system control.

Essential Skills Summary

Essential skills are needed for work, learning and life. They provide the foundation for learning all other skills and enable people to evolve with their jobs and adapt to workplace change.

Through extensive research, the Government of Canada and other national and international agencies have identified and validated nine essential skills. These skills are used in nearly every occupation and throughout daily life in different ways.

A series of CCDA-endorsed tools have been developed to support apprentices in their training and to be better prepared for a career in the trades. The tools can be used independently or with the assistance of a tradesperson, trainer, employer, teacher or mentor to:

  • understand how essential skills are used in the trades;
  • learn about individual essential skills strengths and areas for improvement; and
  • improve essential skills and increase success in an apprenticeship program.

The tools are available online or for order at: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/programs/essential-skills/profiles.html.

The application of these skills may be described throughout this document within the skills and knowledge which support each sub-task of the trade. The most important essential skills for each sub-task have also been identified. The following are summaries of the requirements in each of the essential skills, taken from the essential skills profile.

  • Reading

    Powerline technicians read code books, standards and regulations to ensure work is done in compliance with industry standards. They read drawings and forms that contain technical information related to construction standards or specifications. They also read emails and other correspondence to stay informed on issues. They consult textbooks to determine steps to take when encountering new or infrequent tasks.

  • Document Use

    Powerline technicians interpret information on lists, logbooks and timesheets, and they scan work orders for information about current projects such as job location, job description, timelines, scheduling, contractor requirements, project hazards and project contacts. They use area maps and equipment identification codes to identify their work location. They complete a variety of forms and checklists. They interpret symbols and codes on construction drawings, and use schematic drawings to assemble a piece of equipment or to isolate a circuit. Powerline technicians use information taken from tables and charts to perform calculations such as voltage drop or appropriate conductor sag.

  • Writing

    Powerline technicians keep a daily logbook containing reminders and notes about job progress, deliveries, weather conditions and unusual occurrences. They may prepare training evaluations, switching authorizations and work protection documents. They document safety hazards and precautions or measures taken to implement barriers and controls to manage risks.

  • Oral Communication

    Powerline technicians communicate with dispatchers to exchange information about work in progress or to obtain new assignments, and with supervisors and other crew members several times a day to share crucial information about tasks that need to be completed and unforeseen problems. They maintain constant contact with all crew members during operations to ensure the safety of all workers. Powerline technicians interact with property owners, the general public and various contractors. They also explain and demonstrate safe working techniques to new employees.

  • Numeracy

    Powerline technicians estimate time and verify or determine materials and equipment required for a job. They calculate to what depth to bury poles, the weight of a load to be rigged, fuse size, the tension and angle of guy wires, and average kilo-voltage-amperes (kVA). Powerline technicians work in both metric and imperial systems of measurement and must be able to convert between the two systems.

  • Thinking

    Powerline technicians use problem solving skills to determine how to proceed with an installation when safety hazards or unforeseen obstructions present themselves. They identify the people such as fire fighters, police, city representatives, customers and dispatchers, who need to be consulted to determine course of action when faced with emergencies such as downed wires or traffic lights, and storms. Powerline technicians use decision making skills to decide alternate work activities to be completed when weather prevents planned work. They decide on the suitability of materials and proper procedures to follow to accomplish tasks in a safe and efficient manner. Powerline technicians establish critical timelines for assigned projects keeping in mind that electrical power must be restored as quickly and safely as possible.

  • Working with Others

    Powerline technicians work as part of a crew to perform critical and often highly hazardous work; therefore, collaboration is crucial. They participate in formal and informal discussions with co-workers, supervisors and other work groups about work processes. They monitor the work of others and may assign tasks to them or inform them of how to perform a task.

  • Digital Technology

    Powerline technicians use communications software such as email and texting to communicate. They may access the Internet to obtain information, or to review electrical schematics or construction drawings. They also use other computer applications such as global information system (GIS) software to locate or place powerline devices or components. They may also use remote monitoring devices such as drones and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) technology.

  • Continuous Learning

    Powerline technicians need to maintain and upgrade their skills and knowledge of industry standards and regulations by attending educational sessions or courses offered by provincial or federal associations, and employers. Powerline technicians must also maintain their safety certifications such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), automated external defibrillator (AED) and First Aid. They also learn from experienced co workers.

Trends in the Powerline Technician Trade

Communication within the trade is crucial. Evolutions in technology, such as mobile information systems and global positioning systems (GPS), allow all parties to keep in touch, helping to improve safety, responsiveness in emergencies, and effectiveness in following work procedures.

There is an increase in safety and environmental regulations across jurisdictions, which requires more administrative controls, preparation time and training for powerline technicians. Safety concerns have also led to an increase in the use of aerial work platforms (AWP).

Transmission systems are being constructed with direct current (DC) lines in some parts of the country due to greater efficiency and energy savings.

Metering devices are moving towards digital and smart meters. Radio frequency meters and cellular chip meters are being installed to aid in reading meters and troubleshooting.

New technology in auxiliary equipment is creating much smaller components with greater fault interrupting capabilities.

An increase in the development of the renewable energy sectors (solar, wind, tidal) will require powerline technicians to facilitate the distribution and transmission of electricity generated by these systems.

More and more, utilities are sharing infrastructure with digital and wireless communication companies. As a result, cellular antennas are being installed on electrical structures. Because of the proximity to energized conductors they can only be accessed and installed by qualified powerline technicians.

There is an increase in the use of technology-based equipment such as digital reclosers, robotic devices, drones, computers and tablets to facilitate more reliable and efficient operation, maintenance and repair of systems. Devices used for system protection and control are increasingly remotely controlled rather than manually controlled.

More environmentally friendly materials (such as plant-based oils in transformers) are always being introduced in distribution and transmission systems.

Industry Expected Performance

All tasks must be performed according to the applicable jurisdictional codes and standards. All health and safety standards must be respected and observed. Work should be done efficiently and at a high quality without material waste or environmental damage. All requirements of the manufacturer, client specifications, the Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Acts, and WHMIS regulations must be met. At a journeyperson level of performance, all tasks must be done with minimal direction and supervision. As a journeyperson progresses in their career, there is an expectation they continue to upgrade their skills and knowledge to keep pace with industry and promote continuous learning in their trade through mentoring of apprentices.

Language Requirements

It is expected that journeypersons are able to understand and communicate in either English or French, which are Canada’s official languages. English or French are the common languages of business as well as languages of instruction in apprenticeship programs.

Acknowledgements

The CCDA and ESDC wish to express sincere appreciation for the contribution of the many tradespersons, industrial establishments, professional associations, labour organizations, provincial and territorial government departments and agencies, and all others who contributed to this publication.

Special thanks are offered to the following representatives who contributed greatly to the original draft of the standard and provided expert advice throughout its development:

  • Larry Arthur - Nova Scotia
  • Ben Berkelaar - British Columbia/ NETCO
  • Ryan Bousfield - Saskatchewan
  • Gord Christensen - Alberta
  • Tim Francis - Ontario
  • Brett Fleming - Alberta
  • George Harrison - Electricity Human Resources Canada
  • David Fossa - British Columbia
  • Chris Goertzen - Saskatchewan
  • Mark Keough - Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Chris Lea - Prince Edward Island
  • Alain Melanson - Nova Scotia
  • Matt Nicholson - New Brunswick
  • Ryan Reay - Ontario
  • Tyler Smart - New Brunswick

This standard was prepared by the Apprenticeship and Sectoral Initiatives Directorate of ESDC. The coordinating, facilitating and processing of this standard were undertaken by employees of the standards development team of the Trades and Apprenticeship Division and the Government of Alberta, the host jurisdiction for this trade.

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