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May 2018

ConnectWith: SYEMC's Culture of Safety

Safety is a cooperative effort

When employees and members put safety first, reliability and affordability win.

Attitudes, beliefs and actions help shape a culture of safety. Your co-op employees are engaged in one of the top-10 most dangerous jobs. At one time, years ago, the fatality rate of linemen was at 25 percent. Today, that number is about .002 percent with thanks to enhanced training and advancements in technology. 

    At Surry-Yadkin EMC, safety is a core value and is always top of mind. As a participant in the National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association’s Rural Electric Safety Achievement Program (RESAP), SYEMC strives to promote and ensure employee and public safety.

    Creating a culture of safety requires the commitment of every co-op employee. All must be willing to be held accountable for their safety performance. “No job is so important to risk the safety of employees or the public,” says SYEMC Safety Coordinator Randy White.

    One action recently taken was the enhancement of tailgate meetings. These informal safety meetings occur at the job site prior to beginning work. The crew foreman will draw attention to hazards, processes, equipment, tools, environment and materials to inform all workers of the risks in their surroundings. They also review the physical address of the job site, in case communication must be made with dispatch. All crew members must now sign a form confirming their participation in the meeting and provide a reason, in writing, describing why they are working safely that day. White explains that workers pledge to be accountable for themselves and others during each tailgate meeting.  

    One thing you, as a member, can do to help ensure safety is to slow down when you see an orange, diamond-shaped sign alongside the road. Utility workers are now protected by law in the same way as police and other first responders. One mistake by a driver can lead to a costly fine or even jail time. Please acknowledge these signs and slow down. Move over when possible.

    In addition to the obvious dangers of working with high voltage several feet up in all types of weather, crews are faced with other risks. SYEMC vehicles were driven more than half a million miles in 2017. Driving large trucks down narrow rural highways, often late at night in less-than-ideal weather conditions, can be challenging. Your cooperative recorded no vehicle-related injuries last year. White attributes this achievement to safe driving speeds, seatbelt use and minimizing distractions.

    Our constant pursuit of a culture of safety coincides with our mission to provide safe, reliable and affordable electricity to our members. A safe environment leads to lower costs and has a positive effect on electric service and rates. As part of our co-op team, we encourage you, our member, to adopt these attitudes, beliefs and actions and help shape our culture of safety.


(Above left) SYEMC lineman Chris Tolbert signs a tailgate meeting confirmation form prior to a pole replacement job.
Click below to read the full May 2018 Carolina Country.
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