Safety Above All Else

OEC strives for a culture of safety for its workers

“Safety” is a universal word that is mentioned often and used loosely. Communities, large and small, and companies across all industries are committed to safety. Sports leagues, Sports leagues, at every level, tout their safety protocols, but when it really counts, steps to keep the public, workers, athletes and loved ones safe are often ignored in the interest of expediency or convenience. 

However, safety is a serious issue, especially regarding electrical safety. For Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, it’s the number one priority. This is not empty talk. Over time, OEC has created a culture of safety by putting our employees’ safety and that of the community above all else. At its essence, OEC’s mission is to provide safe, affordable and reliable electricity to its member-owners. To do this requires ongoing focus, dedication and vigilance.

We established and follow safety protocols based on leading national safety practices for the utility industry. We require our lineworkers to wear specialized equipment when working next to or with power lines. There are specific protocols that our lineworkers follow when dealing with energized power lines. Our safety team has regular meetings to discuss upcoming projects from a safety perspective. They monitor and track near-misses of accidents in order to understand them, share “lessons learned” and improve in the future. 

Consequently, accidents can happen, which is why our linemen complete safety training monthly, including pole-top rescue training. Pole-top training simulates an electrical contact injury and the lineman becoming unconscious at the top of a pole. Each lineman must climb the pole using spikes attached to their boots and a safety harness secured to the pole. Once they reach the dummy, they tie a rope around it and lower it safely to the ground. 3620401004

“Each lineman is required to do training like this annually, as well as an inspection of their equipment to ensure its reliability,” said Ryan Spears, Manager of Loss Control. “Getting our linemen home safely at the end of the day is our number one priority, and that’s why we approach these trainings seriously and with dedication.”

Most importantly, we encourage all of our crews to speak up and hold each other accountable for safety. By cultivating a culture of openness and transparency, we promote problem-solving with regard to safety rather than defaulting to a blame game. We examine the information and data gleaned from near-misses and accident reports to discern patterns and use safety metrics to improve in those areas where we have fallen short. As appropriate, we brief contractors on our safety protocols and set expectations for their engagement.

Keeping communities safe

Because we live and work in the community we serve, we care about our neighbors. OEC conducts electrical safety demonstrations in schools and for community events with our Live Line presentation.

According to the Electrical Safety Foundation, each year, thousands of people in the United States are critically injured and electrocuted due to electrical fires, accidents and electrocution in their homes. Many of these accidents are preventable. 

Here are some tips to help keep yourself and those around you safe: Don’t attempt electrical DIY projects or overload your outlets. Contact OEC for additional electrical safety tips. If you would like us to provide a safety demonstration at your school or community event, please contact Daniel Lofland at daniel.lofland@okcoop.org. Be mindful when it comes to electrical safety. Pause and take the extra time to plug into safety.

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