Cooperatives celebrate safety achievements
Every year the ALEC Awards and Safety banquet culminates with our recognition of our Louisiana electric cooperatives and their safety achievements. ALEC provides many services to our member cooperatives, but one of the most touted services we offer are our safety and training programs. Our cooperative employees work in a very dangerous environment everyday sometimes in extreme weather conditions. Therefore, ALEC’s goal is to train them to do their jobs safely. “These procedures we teach effect each cooperative’s bottom line and ultimately each member’s rates,” said ALEC Director of Loss Control Aarron Graham. “But most importantly it guarantees our employees will go home to their families at the end of each day.” Safety is paramount for all electric cooperative employees.
ALEC member cooperatives can participate in the Rural Electric Safety Achievement Program (RESAP). Participation requires a rigorous safety inspection every three years by a certified team of Loss Control professionals. This team inspects everything from plant and equipment to employee procedures. Cooperatives that complete the inspection
are scored and given a list of areas they can work to improve. “We consider these inspections a great opportunity,” said DEMCO General Manager Randy Pierce. “The inspection team provides us with a review of what we are doing really well, as well as the areas we need to improve, and that’s important when the real achievement is keeping everyone safe every day.” This year DEMCO completed the RESAP inspection and received a flag to display at their headquarters.
ALEC member cooperatives that have worked without a loss time accident are given a plaque to recognize their achievement. This year’s recipients were:
- Claiborne Electric: 239,657 hours without lost time since June 2019
- Jeff Davis Electric Cooperative (JDEC): 441,952 hours without lost time since January 2017
- Washington-St. Tammany Electric Cooperative (WSTE): 705,726 hours without lost time since May 2018
- Beauregard Electric Cooperative (BECi): 1,321,000 hours without lost time since August 2016
- South Louisiana Electric Cooperative Association (SLECA): 4,062,033 hours without lost time since December 1996
SLECA General Manager Joe Ticheli admitted, “It takes a lot of safety training and a little bit of good luck to have this record.” In a fast-paced world where time is money, electric cooperatives must constantly emphasize slow down, take your time, and don’t take shortcuts. “Shortcuts can be a life-or-death decision,” warned Charles Hill General Manager/CEO at WSTE. “Cutting corners is never worth someone’s life or wellbeing.” Mark Brown General Manager at Claiborne Electric added, “Our primary goal is to make sure our employees go home to their families each and every day.”
While Louisiana electric cooperatives faced an unprecedented year of multiple hurricanes, they never faltered in their commitment to safety. Both hardest hit cooperatives managed to maintain a perfect safety record during an incredibly challenging year. Since this occurred for the first time in recent history an additional award was added to the roster. The Superior Safety Award was given to JDEC for working an entire year without any accidents. JDEC General Manager Mike Heinen was taken aback by the new award. He expressed his pride in the staff’s achievements, “This is what it is all about. We leave our families and homes in some of the worst conditions, but we maintain a focus to work safely every day so we can return home to those loved ones.”
The traveling statewide safety award is always the last presentation of the evening. A special formula is used to determine the winner of the statewide trophy using the incidence plus severity rate. This rate incorporates employees’ incidents, incident severity, man-hours worked, and vehicle accidents.
Receiving the prestigious statewide safety award for the third year in a row with a perfect safety record is Beauregard Electric Cooperative, Inc. BECi General Manager Kevin Turner said, “This award is a testament to our employees and directors. It takes a commitment from the top-down starting with the cooperatives board of directors to the employees looking out for one another daily. I’m incredibly proud of our staff especially after the challenging year we had with a world-wide pandemic and severe hurricane season.”
ALEC would like to commend all our Louisiana electric cooperatives on their achievements and continued commitment to safety.