Supporting fallen linemen

Supporting fallen linemen

Chris Landers, top right, and his mother, Mary, bottom center, with his siblings and father last May. Landers, a lineman from Oklahoma, was killed on the job in 2017. (Photo courtesy of Mary Allison)

Chris Landers, top right, and his mother, Mary, bottom center, with his siblings and father last May. Landers, a lineman from Oklahoma, was killed on the job in 2017. (Photo courtesy of Mary Allison)

“I’m just waiting for him to come in the door going, ‘Got ya, mom.’ He was good at playing jokes on us all — but I know he’s not actually coming. It’s like a nightmare.”

Mary Allison speaks through teary eyes about her son, Chris Landers. She was on vacation with her daughter last September when she got the call that Chris, a 41-year-old lineman from Cordell, Oklahoma, had been killed on the job — electrocuted after leaning into a power line he thought had been disconnected for repair.

He left behind five children, ages 10 to 22. “We’re still taking it one day at a time,” Mary says. “I stay strong for the rest. I listen and do what I can. We’ve been told that we have to sell his house and truck, which is very hard.”

It’s situations like this that show the need for the Fallen Linemen Organization (FLO), a nonprofit entity created to memorialize lineworkers killed or injured on the job and to support those family members affected by such loss. Beyond sending flowers, providing meals, and lending a shoulder to cry on, FLO also can help with more practical matters, such as setting up and sharing GoFundMe websites to help families raise money for medical bills.

“What they don’t do is simply write you a check and then go away,” says Dwight Miller, director of safety and loss control at Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives, the statewide service organization for the 24 electric cooperatives serving Ohio. “They have volunteers who will spend time with the families to help them through an extremely difficult period. They understand the nature of the industry and can relate emotionally with these families.”

The electric line industry employs about 200,000 workers, and electric power-line installers have traditionally ranked among the most dangerous jobs for decades. Fortunately, families of Ohio electric cooperative linemen have not had to call on assistance from FLO, and that’s in part because they prioritize a culture of safety, Miller says. Rates of lost work time and serious injuries among Ohio co-op lineworkers have been below national averages for the last decade. But the organization remains a well-respected entity — here and everywhere that electric lines run.

Showing support

There are many ways to support the Fallen Linemen Organization, including by direct donation, but now there’s a specialized license plate in Ohio that can help as well. The “Honoring Fallen Linemen” plate was approved by the Ohio General Assembly in 2016, with strong support from Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives.

The plate can be purchased at Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles offices or on www.oplates.com. Proceeds go to the Fallen Linemen Organization.