LMRE employees make Commitment to Zero Contacts
Lorain-Medina Rural Electric employees have agreed to take part in the Commitment to Zero Contacts initiative as part of the cooperative’s drive to continue operating as safely as possible. This initiative, introduced by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) and the Federated Rural Electric Insurance Exchange at the April 2018 Safety Leadership Summit, aims to help eliminate serious injuries and fatalities (SIFs) due to electrical contact, while also enhancing cooperative safety programs.
Commitment to Zero Contacts provides cooperative CEOs, senior leaders, and field personnel with ideas and resources to aid in safety initiatives.
While the national overall injury rate has fallen over the years, the average number of SIFs remains constant, most coming from contact with electrical wires. It is believed that those numbers can be decreased by creating a strong culture of safety in the workplace, not just with the linemen, but at all levels of the cooperative.
LMRE linemen, operations department staff, and General Manager Ed VanHoose signed the commitment forms at the December safety meeting, following a presentation by Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives Director of Safety and Loss Control Dwight Miller.
“To me, ensuring the safety of our employees embodies the very essence of what it means to be a cooperative family,” VanHoose says. “While I personally vow to do everything in my power to have everyone go home in the same condition they arrive, without each employee taking personal responsibility, these programs have little chance for success. That’s why I’m so proud to see all of our linemen sign the pledge with me.”
The LMRE board of trustees also signed the Zero Contacts pledge as a show of support as well as a belief in what the program stands for.
“The Zero Contacts program gives us, as trustees, an opportunity to sign our names as an endorsement of a program that emphasizes safety procedures and the absolute necessity for taking the time, every time, to be safe,” District 2 Trustee Jim McConnell says.
When employees voluntarily sign the Commitment to Zero Contacts pledge, they agree to use lifesaving rules such as:
• Wearing personal protective equipment (gloves and sleeves)
• Applying personal grounds
• Applying proper insulating material
• Properly using clearance materials
Employees also agreed to “speak up” and not accept or walk by a shortcut to safe work and to slow down and perform effective job planning on all work assignments.
Another component of the Commitment to Zero Contacts initiative is the use of the S.A.F.E. (stop and focus everyday) job-planning app, designed to help build and reinforce safe habits on a job site by bringing an employee’s attention and focus back to the lifesaving rules.
“It’s important for us to show our promise that the safety of our employees and the general public is the No. 1 priority well above anything else,” Director of Engineering and Operations Brad Warnement says.
The LMRE board and employees understand how dangerous working on electrical lines is for the linemen, and they are committed to ensuring that everyone works safer and smarter each day.