The Institute for Safety in Powerline Construction (ISPC) was formed in 2004 as a non-profit, 501(c)(3) Louisiana Association to focus exclusively on safety, health and training for powerline workers throughout the United States and potentially other nations, as well.
Our genesis however, goes farther back in time. Ron Schenk, ISPC’s Executive Director, became part of the Industry in 1990, being named Director of Training for a medium sized powerline contractor in Texas. In ’94 that firm became part of a larger contractor based in Alexandria, LA. Ron was asked to bring the training program developed earlier on to the new Company. By 2004, with 2,000 Lineworkers on staff, Ron’s four year Apprenticeship Program had surpassed 500 enrolled students in 18 Company training centers throughout 13 southeastern states. By then, as well, Ron recognized the weaknesses Industry-wide in Lineworker training and the lack of up-to-date, good training material to support the many programs that would be needed. Linemen were dying in increasing numbers and accident statistics were dismal for this group, everywhere. Ron felt that the lack of safety enforcement and the poor training practices used in the Industry were to blame.
It was on a visit to OSHA in Washington, DC, in August 2002 that Ron saw the vision that would become the Institute for Safety in Powerline Construction. Ron was part of a group visiting OSHA that included the Safety Directors of two major investor-owned utilities as well as officials from the Company Ron represented and a national Insurance underwriter. All were there to discuss the OSHA Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) and how it might be expanded to include those in a ‘mobile workforce,’ such as those crews used by electric utilities and powerline contractors. This small group did its best to represent the interests of Lineworkers everywhere, before OSHA in this important matter. No other Industry-wide group had Lineworkers as their only focus.
Enter ISPC. Now the Industry does have an Association that can fully represent the safety and health of Lineworkers everywhere and focus on the critical issues of good safety and training practices that can make a difference in the lives of the nearly 150,000 skilled professionals in this trade.