PSNH: Crews on the job for 16 hours a day

Utility crews are working around the clock to restore electrical power to those still in the dark. But that doesn’t mean every utility worker is making repairs around the clock.

Some Public Service of New Hampshire crews work overnight, but the majority shut down by 10 p.m. for needed rest, company spokesman Martin Murray said.

Crews start their repair tasks at 6 a.m. and work about 16 hours, with an occasional break to eat and rest, he said. The majority of the daunting power restoration across the state occurs in daylight hours because it makes the most sense, Murray said.

“You can’t work people 2-4/7 and expect everyone will be safe and the job will be done all right,” he said.

Worker safety rules dictate that utility crews cannot work 24 hours, Murray said. The longest a worker can stay on the clock is about 18 hours, he said.

Undoubtedly, PSNH and other utility workers are currently the most observed employees in the public domain. People lacking electricity for five days now watch utility workers with bated breath, wondering when the truck will make it to their neighborhoods.

Some people without power complain when they see PSNH employees eating a meal at a restaurant, especially if they expect crews to be “working around the clock.”

Murray said crews need sleep and nourishment. Only a handful of crews work a later night shift, while the majority repair lines in daylight.

Murray stressed that utility crews are working under considerable stress. Aside from the demand to restore power as quickly as possible, the workers are in the same boat as customers in the dark, he said.

Many of them also don’t have electrical power at home, and many others – including those from other utility companies from other states – don’t have time to go home and are staying in hotels, Murray said.