Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Preparing for Field Duty

Location: Corporate Offices, Akron, Ohio

When I first started working for the company, I recall a line crew boss telling me about how much both the training and the equipment had improved over the years.

I doubt anyone in any area of this company could honestly tell you that they aren’t exposed to safety messages on a regular basis, particularly the folks who work on the lines and in the power plants. This hyper focus on safety at all levels of the organization has paid off, with a dramatic decrease over the years in the number of what we call “OSHA recordables” – incidents that must be reported to the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration. It’s remarkable what can be accomplished when the entire organization has the “one accident is too many” mindset.

Continuing to improve on this performance requires an almost fanatical dedication to safety, with regular discussions and safety reminders at every turn in a line worker’s day. This focus is why I find myself completing online training courses, meeting with our safety department, and acquiring appropriate gear before I can even ride along with a crew. Anyone who spends time in the field, around the wires, must know the safety basics – there is simply no other option. When brought down by a storm, power lines can become extremely and, more important, unpredictably dangerous. Live wires on the ground don’t always jump around and spark like you see on TV. Dead wires on the ground don’t always stay unpowered, either.