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Commitment to Zero Contacts 

Nationwide program expands to Phase 2

SAFETY IS A PRIORITY for Kentucky’s electric cooperatives. Many cooperatives begin each meeting with a safety moment—a reminder or tip to keep their employees safe. 

This effort was reenergized in 2018 after a study by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and Federated Rural Electric Insurance Exchange, with support of statewide safety professionals, revealed that while co-op safety programs had greatly reduced days lost to workplace injuries, the record of serious on-the job-injuries has not improved. The majority of these serious accidents involve human contact with an energized power line or equipment. 

The two organizations worked together to start the Commitment to Zero Contacts campaign. 

Phase 1 of the campaign invited cooperatives to sign a pledge committing themselves to safety and emphasizing practices like wearing necessary personal protective equipment and slowing down to perform effective job planning. 

Kentucky’s electric cooperatives had a 100% participation rate in Phase 1. 

Phase 2 is a newer effort. During this part of the campaign, co-op employees complete an anonymous survey regarding their cooperative’s safety program. 

Jackson Energy Cooperative recently completed the survey. 

“The Commitment to Zero Contacts Phase 2.0 allowed our working foremen and service technicians an opportunity to speak openly, candidly and honestly with a third-party facilitator regarding the safety practices and work culture here at Jackson Energy,” says Jackson Energy CEO Carol Wright, former chairperson of the safety committee of the Kentucky Electric Cooperatives Board. “The end results provided management the reassurance and solidification that our field personnel are committed to safe work practices and proper use of their personal protective equipment that is not only necessary, but vital to them.” 

The Phase 2 program is administered by the statewide association’s safety team, led by Director of Safety and Training Randy Meredith. It’s an honor, Meredith says, to be trusted to manage the program at the state level. 

So far, eight co-ops have completed Phase 2 and more are being scheduled throughout the year.

Safety tips for all 

  • Whether you’re a lineworker, a member service representative or a consumer-member, some safety tips apply to everyone. 
  • Remember, water and electricity do not mix. Keep appliances away from water when they are plugged in. 
  • Always assume a downed line is energized and stay away. Call your co-op and report the location. 
  • If the charging cord for your smartphone, for instance, becomes frayed, get a new one. Using a damaged cord is not worth the risk. 

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