The IBEW Local 1245 members who work at NV Energy’s Fort Churchill Generating Station in Yerington, NV know what it means to work safe – and now they hold the national record to prove it. In August, the team at Fort Churchill surpassed two million work-hours without a single lost-time accident, which is the longest safety record of any fossil-fueled generating station in the United States. In recognition of this outstanding achievement, the Edison Electric Institute presented the coveted “Safety Achievement Award” to NV Energy this summer.
The 22 rank-and-file workers at Fort Churchill – all of whom are members of IBEW Local 1245 – are humble but clearly proud of their 30+ year record of no lost-time accidents. They attribute their safety success to the close-knit nature of their workgroup.
“We’re from a small town, many of us went to school together, and we all have a history with each other that goes back years,” said Shop Steward Duane Matheus, a Technician Maintenance Lead who has worked for NV Energy for nearly 40 years, and has been at Fort Churchill for the past 25 years. “That connection creates relationships that you won’t find at another power plant. That kind of closeness, you just can’t replace it. Everybody here is looking out for everybody else.”
There’s no question that the Local 1245 members at Fort Churchill subscribe to the long-standing IBEW tradition of being “your brothers’ keeper.” But they also have a nontraditional safety committee structure that has likely contributed to the overall success at the plant.
“We rotate through the safety committee, so all of the employees have serve on it at some time. That helps to provide different perspectives from different employees,” Matheus explained. “Being a safety team member makes you a sort of expert, and it causes you to have appreciation and perspective you wouldn’t get any other way. Since we all serve on the committee, we all have that expertise.”
According to the company, the Fort Churchill team has submitted more than 2,000 different safety suggestions over the years, which is proof that the members there are incredibly proactive about their own safety and the safety of those they work with.
The members at Fort Churchill celebrated the safety achievement award with a catered luncheon, sponsored by the company. NV Energy also gave each member the opportunity to select a prize from its tiered rewards program.
“On behalf of Local 1245, I want to extend a heartfelt congrats to our members at Fort Churchill. 30-plus years without a single lost-time accident is no small feat, and we’re incredibly proud of the effort that our members put in every day to stay safe,” said Local 1245 Business Manager Tom Dalzell. “These hard-working men and women exemplify the principle of safety that the IBEW was founded upon, and if our founder, Henry Miller, were still around today, I’m sure he would be first in line to commend these members for their dedication to a safe workplace.”
–Rebecca Band, IBEW 1245 Communications Director
Photos via Duane Matheus