Union Power recently received national recognition for its compliance with the Rural Electric Safety Accreditation Program (RESAP). RESAP is one of the few programs in the country that provides electric cooperatives a management tool for continuous safety and loss control assessment.
Taking the importance of safety even further, the Cooperative recently introduced the “Commit to Zero Contacts” initiative. Whether by failing to test a ground wire, or defective personal protective equipment, each year line workers are killed or injured in the line of duty by making contact with power lines. The Zero Contact initiative encourages senior leaders and employees to put their commitment into practice by using tools and resources to be safe. While the Commit to Zero program is geared towards line workers, every employee at Union Power is encouraged to “commit to safety.”
Safety is a concern for electric cooperatives nationwide. A recent survey conducted by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) found an average of 23 serious injuries and fatalities have occurred at electric cooperatives each year for the past 10 years. At Union Power, we are especially thankful for a history free from workplace fatalities and electrical contacts.
Director of Corporate Safety Jamie Taylor says of the Cooperative’s safety culture, “Union Power has made great strides in recent years to improve the safety of our employees. We have implemented new procedures for our linemen in grounding and cover-up that reduce their exposure to electrical contacts. Our hazard recognition program is the best in the state, in my opinion. Our employees frequently report near misses that have shown to prevent future incidents. Supervisors have taken more responsibility for training their employees by conducting department safety meetings and toolbox talks. Union Power employees hold themselves to a higher safety standard every day, and that buy-in is what makes a successful safety program.”
Union Power has achieved this record only by putting safety first. Whether using a stepladder in the office, or ensuring gloves and sleeves are defective free, the Co-op is committed to implementing and sustaining programs that increase safety awareness, and put in place best practices for all employees, at work and in the home.