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What Is a Pole-Top Rescue?

Pole-top rescue is an important safety procedure in the electrical industry and a vital skill for linemen to know. When a lineman has become unconscious or unresponsive and they are not able to climb down the pole on their own, a pole-top rescue will be necessary.

Why Is Pole-Top Rescue Important?

It just takes a mere fraction of a second for workers to become distracted and electrocuted, which would make it difficult for them to descend alone. Due to the hazards that are associated with a lineman work, a safely executed pole-top rescue could end up saving the victims life.

Who Should Receive Pole-Top Rescue Training?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that in the event of a rescue, only line workers are qualified to safely climb the pole and lower the injured worker.

They also advise that anybody who will be operating in close proximity to electrical equipment or exposed, electrified parts on a pole receive the necessary training to perform a pole-top rescue. This will guarantee that someone will always be on hand who can safely execute the rescue.

Every linesman team must conduct an annual pole-top rescue training exercise, per OSHA requirements.

What Are the Four Steps for a Pole-Top Rescue?

A pole-top rescue is a four step process that focuses on keeping both the rescuer and the victim as safe as possible during the rescue. These four steps are:

  1. Evaluate the situation
  2. Use personal protective equipment (PPE)
  3. Climb to rescue position
  4. Lower the victim to the ground

Throughout the following sections we will be going into detail about each step as if you were the rescuer and how each step impacts the outcome of the rescue.

Evaluate the Situation

When evaluating the situation, you will want to call out to the person on the pole and ask if they are okay or if they need any help. If they do not respond, go to their aid. Time is vital when performing a rescue. Evaluate the surrounding areas. Determine if the pole is split, cracked, or on fire.

You must also determine if the victim is in contact with a live conductor or other energized equipment and if you will need rubber gloves. It is important to look at everything, not just the victim so that you don’t fall victim to the same hazard.

Use Proper PPE

Your safety is just as important as the victim’s in regard to the rescue because without you there would be no rescue. Which is why ensuring you have the proper PPE to carry out the rescue is crucial. Do not take any chances where your safety is concerned.

Climb To Rescue Position

Once you have evaluated the citation and are properly equipped, carefully climb to the rescue position. If necessary, clear the injured person of any hazards and then evaluate the victim’s condition.

Once you have assessed the condition of the victim you will want to tie the rescue rope around them. The tying of the rope itself is dependent on the position of the victim and your position in relation to the victim.

Lower the Victim to the Ground

This part of the rescue is where the victim’s life lays in your hands and depends on your skills and ability. You will want to remove any slack from the line that is attached to the victim. Slowly begin to lower the victim and control his descent in the rope with one hand. Use the other hand to guide the victim through any lower obstructions or hazards.

Hazards That Necessitate Pole-Top Rescues

There are many factors that may cause the need for a pole-top rescue. It is important to know what the most common causes are in order to avoid or prevent injury and fatality. Some of the most common factors that necessitate a pole-top rescue are:

Are There Risks to the Rescuers Safety?

There are just as many hazards that put the rescuers at risk as they do the victim. However, for the sake of this article, we will only be talking about the four most common hazards which are falls, loose objects, electrical hazards, and entanglements.

Falls From Height

Inexperienced linemen or equipment failure are typically to blame for falls that occur during a rescue. When equipment is not maintained appropriately, it will malfunction. Safety equipment must be fixed-up or replaced if it is broken, worn out, or damaged.

Linemen should always receive proper safety training when it comes to working at heights and with electrical equipment.

Loose Objects

Loose objects like clothing, tools, or other equipment can be dangerous to the rescuer as they attempt to reach the victim. If these objects have a charge, they can present a risk of shock. These objects could also catch on the rescuers clothes or equipment, making it challenging and dangerous for them to complete the rescue.

Live Electrical Hazards

Live lines are frequently the cause for a lineman to be rendered unconscious and unresponsive. They frequently lead to the failure of many rescue efforts as well. Always avoid coming into close proximity of live lines and energized equipment. Always be aware of where each electrical hazard is at your worksite.


The most prominent dangers when lowering the victim to the ground are snags and entanglements. Although it poses less of a threat to the rescuer, it may delay the victim in receiving the assistance they require. Be sure to always follow the necessary precautions when rescuing a victim.

Our Pole-Top Rescue Safety Training

We have over 200 courses available here at Hard Hat Training, covering a variety of training subjects. Everyone should find the process of safety training to be simple, insightful, and reasonably-priced. Because of this, every one of our courses is completely narrated and created to keep end-users engaged throughout the entire process.

Our Pole-Top Rescue Safety Training Course complies with OSHA regulations and fulfills their requirements for classroom education. There is a written exam included in each of our courses that you can take as soon as you are finished. For further details, get in touch with our customer service department!

For more information check out our How Many Steps Are In Pole Top Rescue