Davey helps a Midwest electric utility improve its focus on safe operations through the use of a safety mentor

Midwest U.S. Based Utility

When a prominent utility needed help increasing the safety culture of one of their divisions, they called on the experts at Davey to educate and empower crews.

The Challenge

A prominent electric utility operates several regulated distribution companies, serving 6 million customers in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. The company has invested billions in environmental efforts since the 70s, focusing on cleaner energy and smarter technology.

The utility remains committed to improving its transmission lines through forward-focusing programs. Since 2014, the company has upgraded or replaced existing power lines, used smarter technology, improved substation equipment, and heightened security measures.

In 2017, the company also attained top-quartile safety performance in the industry, according to its annual report. They planned to improve their safety numbers further by enhancing safety awareness and encouraging safe practices on the job. The line clearance vendors in one particular division, which serves 600,000 customers, was notorious for their virtually nonexistent safety culture. The company asked Davey for help.

The Solution

Davey assessed the safety shortfalls of the line clearing vendors in the division’s region and put together a safety program. They have a safety mentor on each crew – a position that rotates among crewmembers – and he or she becomes responsible for monitoring and enforcing safe work habits throughout the day. This crewmember wears a special beanie over his or her hard hat to become easily identifiable among crewmembers. This serves as a visual reminder to crewmembers that they must follow safe practices at all times. If mentors see an unsafe practice happening, such as not wearing eye protection or a hard hat, they stop work and address it as a group to ensure the act is a learning experience for everyone.

Mentors also greet visitors outside work zones, educating them about the day’s work plans, making them aware of any hazards and assuring they are wearing proper personal protective equipment before they enter work zones.

The Results

Davey launched the pilot program in a targeted area. Line clearance vendor crews embraced the program and mentors took great pride in being assigned the task of upholding safety. The program ensures there’s greater buy-in to following safety protocols among all crew members.

The utility’s forester took notice of the program, commending crews for taking safety to the next level. As a result, the utility’s safety mentor program has reduced the number of incidents by half since the program was implemented, ensuring safety is top of mind across the company.

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