Day two in Suriname began with a safety meeting of 22 linemen and supervisors. Despite the language barrier, it was clear that EBS (the Suriname utility company) has labor/management issues not unlike most American utilities. Finger-pointing and accusing tones do not require a translator.
From there, it was out to the field at the EBS climbing facility that Brady Hansen and the SABI team helped build last year. The day’s training covered a wide range of topics, included grounding, tie wires, knots and connections. The Surinamese linemen were like sponges, wanting to soak up every bit of knowledge that was offered by the SABI trainers from another continent.
After lunch, it was on to practice hand setting a pole. There are very few digger derricks in Suriname, and as a result most poles are dug by hand. The spades and spoons donated by PG&E were a huge hit with the crews, who had never seen these tools before. The American trainers had a rude awakening while attempting to hand set the new pole with 4″ blocks. Poles in Suriname come from rainforest trees and the wood is much denser, which makes each pole 50% heavier than the poles the Americans are accustomed to working with, even though the poles are roughly the same size.
The day closed with a review, emphasizing regular safety meetings, tail boards and good communications. To reinforce these concepts, each lineman left with a new pair of boots, gloves and safety glasses.
After just one day of training, it’s clear that the knowledge, skills and satisfaction the EBS linemen are leaving with isn’t coming close to the experience each Local 1245 trainer is realizing in Suriname.
Report compiled by Bob Gerstle
Photos by John Storey