On May 18, the Hold the Pull peer safety committee held its annual Safety Steward Summit. It was a day filled with discussion on pertinent safety issues such as effective grounding, doing your part for safety, watching out for your brothers and speaking up when you see things that are unsafe.
IBEW 1245 Business Manager Tom Dalzell put the peer safety program into historical context.
“When Henry Miller and a couple other linemen got together above a bar in 1891 and started the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, it wasn’t about wages, hours or working conditions. It was about safety,” Dalzell told the room full of Safety Stewards. “Safety is in the DNA of this union … and this program is what really works [to keep members safe on the job]. You are the absolute core of the mission of the IBEW.”
The Summit featured several guest speakers who all had great stories about how and why safety is the most important part of any job.
Former Marine Corps sniper and double amputee Dylan Gray spoke about his experiences in Iraq and what happens when you have risk-taking “cowboys” on the job. Gray, who was blown up by an IED while on patrol and lost both of his legs, shared the story of a “cowboy” friend who lost his life. When people don’t do their part and fail to follow the rules, they or others can pay the price.
SMUD Troubleman Dave Freeman also shared a personal story about the accident that took his arm four years ago. Freeman was trying to make repairs to a T-lug that was broken inside the padmount capacitor cabinet, and didn’t know that this part of the equipment was energized. This accident may have been prevented if he has been properly trained for this piece of equipment. He also spoke about how a life-changing accident doesn’t just impact one individual — it affects family and co-workers as well. Freeman feels fortunate to have received tremendous support from everyone at his company.
The final speaker of the day was Brett Turner of the Peer Volunteer program, a substance abuse assistance program that was developed by Local 1245 and PG&E. Turner emphasized the importance of having those tough conversations when you notice a co-worker who is not fit for duty, because when we say nothing, the consequences can be disastrous.
There were many great discussions throughout the day, and lots of input from safety stewards representing companies all across the 1245 territory. Among the companies represented were Wells Rural Electric, Mount Wheeler Rural Electric, Turlock Irrigation District, Plumas Sierra Rural Electric, City of Redding, SMUD, PG&E, Silicon Valley Power, and City of Lompoc.
–Casey Kelley, IBEW 1245 Business Rep
Photos by John Storey