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Safety in the numbers

Kentucky co-ops have dramatically improved their safety record—the plan is to keep improving


Kentucky’s electric cooperatives have made safety among the highest of priorities.

In particular over the last 10 years, Kentucky electric co-ops have invested significant resources to protect the safety of our line workers and employees. We have created workshops, hired additional safety professionals, created a world-class annual lineman “safety rodeo,” and performed self-assessments and benchmarking against other states and utilities.

Safety is a job that is never complete and we must be committed to an ongoing improvement process.

I want to single out one of the Kentucky co-op initiatives that I am especially proud of. In 2008, our cooperatives felt that it was necessary to survey and collect opinions, workplace culture, and standard operating procedures relating to safety. This was done by performing a weeklong Safety Lab in conjunction with the national group Federated Rural Electric Insurance Exchange. This lab would highlight how employees at the cooperative viewed safety, including line workers, safety professionals, and leaders within the cooperative. Upon completion of the lab and analysis of safety-related metrics, the Kentucky cooperatives enhanced efforts to improve statewide safety.

In August 2014, Kentucky cooperative leaders decided it was important to see if any improvements had been made since that 2008 program. The decision to conduct a second Safety Strategy Lab was made and performed. The results were eye-opening and demonstrated that the hard work was paying off. Some of the key metrics indicate much better performance. The Recordable Incident Rate had a 40.4 percent decrease from 2008 to 2014. The metric for lost time due to accidents showed a reduction of nearly 20 percent. Nearly all respondents from the lab indicated that the safety awareness in the state was significantly higher. That is the good news.

Electric co-ops celebrate that improvement. And pledge to do even better. There are still cases where line workers get injured, in a world where even one injury is too many. Our goal as cooperatives is to protect our members and our employees, and the job is not done until there are zero safety incidents.

For a deeper look at some of the newest safety practices, turn to The Future of Electricity in the February 2015 issue.

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