The job of working with high-voltage power lines will always come with inherent danger. Thankfully, overall workplace injury rates in the electrical industry have been declining. One exception to that decline has been a slight increase in accidents causing major injuries, which are often the result of contact with energized lines.
To raise awareness and bring the issue to the thousands of lineworkers at co-ops around the country, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association created the “Commitment to Zero Contacts” campaign, encouraging personal commitment to safety where safe practices are already in place.
“This program will help us recognize hazards and potential problems that we could miss because we can get so accustomed to the ordinary, simple jobs,” said Rodney Wesley, TVEC manager of operations. “We already have a strong safety culture. Adding the zero-contacts commitment is one more thing that will ultimately benefit these guys and their families.”
“This is more individually-targeted and based on individual rather than cultural behavior,” said Steve Estes, TVEC’s manager of safety and loss control. “As a national initiative, this gives us resources to reinforce the good practices we know and train on, and goes one step further to empower each worker to go one step further and consider their own reasons to work safely.”
TVEC operations personnel gathered in early October to participate in safety training and learn about the Commitment to Zero Contacts program. And while signing onto the program may have been an individual commitment, the organization as a whole will see the benefits.
“Our senior linemen have already instilled most of these traits into their work habits and personal behavior. They see how it directly impacts them on a personal level for them and their families,” Estes said. “The younger guys may not have that mindset yet, so it is good to collect everyone together and reinforce that ultimate goal, which is for everyone to get home safe every day.”