SAFETY IS JOB ONE
Employees Excel at Earning 2.5 Million Accident-Free Hours
Every day an employee returns home safely to his or her family is worth celebrating, and United Cooperative Services employees have shared many safety highlights in the eight years it has taken to amass a recent company record of more than 2.5 million work hours without a lost-time accident.
Hitting the 2.5 million-hour benchmark puts United’s 158 employees in a league nearly all their own when compared with similarly sized utility employee groups across the state and nation.
The rare achievement is especially significant when considering the business United is in—delivering electric power to more than 57,000 member-owners across the co-op’s 14-county service territory.
Assuring the reliability of United’s electric distribution system often requires employees to work in some of the harshest conditions when restoring power or simply performing day-to-day maintenance. Some of the challenges faced by employees include tornadoes, wildfires, raging winds, lightning and heavy downpours. Despite these hurdles, United employees perform their jobs professionally and, more importantly, safely.
United CEO Cameron Smallwood said the cooperative’s safety program is built on the belief that everyone at the company has a role to play in safety, whether an employee works in the field or in one of United’s six area offices.
“Safety practices are not just for our lineworkers,” Smallwood said. “No employee is immune to factors that can contribute to an injury or a lost-time accident, and every employee is trained to observe safety not only for themselves, but for their fellow workers, too. That was emphasized recently when our employee group collectively pledged its support for adopting a more inclusive employee safety campaign we call ‘Commitment to Zero’—zero contacts, zero accidents and zero incidents.”
The byproducts of United’s safety culture can be seen in all areas of the co-op’s business. When people are injured on the job, it costs an organization a tremendous amount—financially, operationally and emotionally.
During Texas Electric Cooperatives’ Loss Control Conference in March, United was recognized not only for the then-2.4 million hours worked without a lost-time accident, but also for receiving RESAP safety re-accreditation and multiple other awards.
Four United employees received recognition for 30 years of service without a lost-time injury accident.
“Of all the many successes and achievements we have shared as a company and as an employee group, every one of them pale in comparison to the safety of our employees,” Smallwood said. “Nothing we will ever do at United is worth the risk of injury or loss of life. As the manager of this cooperative, I am truly blessed that our employees are committed to our safety culture—that they live it, they breathe it and they honor it religiously.
“This recent accomplishment is a direct result of our employees constantly making safety the No. 1 priority at our cooperative. Ultimately, this benchmark serves to remind us how precious life is, and what the reward is for our complete attention to safety.”