Ohio motorists can now honor fallen linemen through a special license plate. (Photo Courtesy: Ohio EC)
As of March 14, Ohio motorists can purchase special license plates that memorialize fallen lineworkers.
Proceeds from the tags support the
Fallen Linemen Organization, a nonprofit that provides emotional and financial support to the families of electric linemen who have been killed or injured on the job.
Ohio's Electric Cooperatives pushed hard for a bill to authorize the special plates. The state legislature approved it during its 2016 session.
"Linemen are the unsung heroes who keep the lights on and the power flowing around the clock, often in hazardous conditions and in the most trying circumstances," said Marc Armstrong, Ohio's Electric Cooperatives' director of government affairs.
"On behalf of the 24 electric cooperatives across the Buckeye State that we represent, and the nearly 1 million members served by our network, Ohio's Electric Cooperatives is proud to have supported the effort of the Ohio General Assembly to bring the plate to fruition."
The plates contain a blackened image of a lineworker holding a hard hat at the base of a power pole, part of a logo used by the Fallen Linemen group. The plate also states "Honoring Fallen Linemen."
Tennessee is believed to be the only state with similar license plates on behalf of fallen linemen, though Kentucky has a lineman license plate.
According to the Fallen Linemen Organization, the electric utility line industry loses an average of 45 workers a year in the line of duty among the 200,000 men and women who work on the lines. Utility work is one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States, according to Labor Department data.
Ohio Rep. Scott Ryan, R-Granville, a sponsor of the plate legislation, cited the hazards that lineworkers encounter in restoring power amid storms and adverse conditions.
"When Mother Nature destroys what our linemen have built up, they are on call to build it back up again as quickly as possible," he told a legislative committee in explaining the need for the bill.
"We hope to be able to pay tribute to the men and women who have sacrificed their lives to keep our lights on with these license plates."