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W1.4 – Pipeline & Power Sectors

Pipeline workers and power linemen often work in safety-sensitive positions in remote locations far from access to healthy food and drinking water, with high levels of stress and lacking in opportunities for adequate rest and exercise. Restoring power after a natural disaster can mean weeks in the field with no functioning infrastructure nearby.  Low-end motel beds are not conducive to a good night’s sleep, and clean water and sanitation is often an issue. Working in the heat in protective gear can lead to electrolyte imbalances, loss of appetite, and insomnia  Workers staying in temporary housing or motels in small towns rarely have access to fresh food in the town, and work camp kitchens rarely offer more than standard institutional food.

There are around 240,000 electricity line installers and repairers in the US and 50,000 pipeline workers, and many are in safety-sensitive positions. In addition to the physical hazards of their jobs these workers face working environment-based challenges to maintaining healthy diets and managing stress, fatigue, and sleep.  Those responsible for pipeline, communications and electricity transmission network operation, maintenance, repair and emergency-response functions often spend days or weeks away from home under difficult conditions where opportunities for maintaining a healthy lifestyle are extremely limited. It isn’t usually lack of food that creates a problem for employees in remote locations, it’s the lack of healthy food choices that locks in the health issues caused by high fat, high salt, fried foods along with high sugar beverages on top of stress and fatigue.