Safety is a Team Sport
by Julie Jones
Last year I interviewed several linemen from across our service area and asked them four questions about safety. Last month I wrote about the question “What does safety mean to you.” This was answered universally as “Safety means going home at night.” The second question I asked them was “Is safety a team effort.” While the responses varied somewhat they basically all came down to this, “Yes, working safe requires everyone.”
Working as a team starts when everyone gets to work in the morning. Jamestown Area Manager Louie DeLorenzo said, “What we do is dangerous,” and he reminds them each day to “follow the rules.” Everybody has a responsibility to take care of themselves, according to DeLorenzo, but it’s easier with the whole team on the same page.
In addition to the Area Managers daily encouraging safe behavior, Safety Superintendent Ty Ratcliff texts each lineman every morning with a safety tip. “A good safety record doesn’t come by accident, stay safe,” was a recent text by Ratcliff.
A daily safety practice at all the service centers is the Job Briefing form each line crew fills out for every job and trouble call. This briefing has them note the location, the address, the weather conditions, the job type, the protective gear needed and potential assessed hazards. This form requires all crewmen to evaluate the job and sign indicating they understand the work procedures and their roles in that particular job. As Benton Service Area line foreman Scottie Peels stated, “This is a team effort. I am my brother’s keeper. Using the Job Briefing helps everyone work safer and on the same page.”
“Safety is a culture,” per John Selvidge Cleveland Service Area manager. It starts at the top, it includes those who work inside and outside, and the team drives the passion and enthusiasm for safe habits.
Cleveland Lineman Don McCoy stated, “We need everyone on the team to be involved and when you work with safe people you are encouraged to work even safer.”
To be safe means to go home at night. This is for everyone, the whole VEC team, all the time.