Importance of Safety - V.P. of Engineering and Operations, Mike Johnson
Importance of Safety - V.P. of Engineering and Operations, Mike Johnson

Edgecombe-Martin County EMC is dedicated to prioritizing the safety of our employees, striving to prevent injuries, and guaranteeing that every team member returns home safely. This commitment requires constant efforts to invest in the tools and equipment necessary to maintain such a high standard of safety, to abide by the comprehensive safety manual that we’ve developed, and to continuously provide safety training to all employees.  

Safety is deeply ingrained in our co-op’s culture, influencing every aspect of our work. Regardless of the task at hand, our goal is to assess how it can be performed in a safe manner. These practices apply to activities like power restoration and tasks completed in the office.

Each Tuesday, our operations department conducts a morning safety meeting, which typically covers safety procedures, equipment inspections, discussions about any near-misses, and other relevant safety topics that require attention. The co-op also has a safety committee that meets quarterly and works to identify safety concerns and to recommend areas for improvement. We’re always looking for innovative ways to make processes safer and more efficient. That’s why our committee approach is so valuable because it involves employees working in these conditions who have firsthand experience with what’s working and what’s not.
Employees bear full responsibility for their safety as well as the safety of their colleagues. When working in the field, line technicians conduct pre-job tailgate meetings to clearly identify potential hazards and understand each teammates responsibility. Every team member, regardless of seniority, possesses the authority to immediately halt a job if they believe there is a potential safety hazard. Line technicians are also required to pass annual timed-tests for pole-top rescue and bucket rescue, involving the rescue of a practice dummy. These two tests guarantee that line technicians are skilled in rescuing a fellow line technician using climbing gear and a rope or by lowering and safely releasing an injured line technician from a bucket on a hydraulic lift.

Every year, all employees undergo training covering various topics, including CPR, first aid, bloodborne pathogens, proper lifting techniques, office safety, and more. Every three years, Edgecombe-Martin County EMC participates in an unannounced safety inspection. The Rural Electricity Safety Achievement Program (R.E.S.A.P.) inspection, which is conducted by the N.C. Electric Membership Corporations job training and safety staff reviews every aspect of the co-op to determine if adequate safe practices are maintained. The co-op is assessed on facilities, equipment, employee knowledge, and numerous other items. This inspection was completed in June and our team performed well in all areas, meeting satisfactory standards and even surpassing expectations in many areas. The presence of a strong safety culture within our team is evident. However, we must remain committed to ongoing improvement by individually asking ourselves how we can enhance our own abilities for the betterment of the team.

Undoubtedly, the primary driving force behind our safety-oriented approach is ensuring that the workforce returns home safely to their families each evening. However, it is important to highlight other notable advantages that accompany this approach. By reducing injuries, employees can maintain a state of physical readiness, which is essential to the power industry. A safe workplace also promotes good employee morale. Finally, working safe is good for our members. By law, the co-op must pay worker’s compensation insurance based on a formula that includes accidents. The fewer the accidents, the lower the amount Edgecombe-Martin County EMC must pay into worker’s compensation. Anything that helps the co-op reduce overhead can potentially help lower members’ rates. 

As a cooperative, the safety of our members is also very important to us. Edgecombe-Martin County EMC employees often give safety presentations and demonstrations at schools and organizations, reminding people of the simple electric safety habits that can protect themselves and their loved ones from harm. Edgecombe-Martin County EMC holds first responder and farm safety training annually on safe practices in situations involving downed power lines, accidents, or fires. If you’re a member of a civic club, group, business organization, or educational institution within our service area and would like to know more about our electrical safety presentations, call Monica Speight at 252-823-2171.

Mike Johnson