More than 40 gas safety stewards from PG&E and NV Energy came together at the IBEW 1245 union hall on Sept 27 for the annual Control the Pressure Gas Safety Summit. IBEW Local 77 also sent Assistant Business Manager Mike Brown and two gas employees to observe and take back information on the CTP program for possible use in their own jurisdiction.
The day began with a somber moment of silence for our fallen brothers. The Control the Pressure Committee proceeded to facilitate a discussion about the difference that CTP has made in workplace safety, sharing both successes and struggles that they have encountered. GC Equipment Operator Steve Lange shared his story of an employee in his work group who passed away on the job from a heart attack, prompting Lange and the CTP to spearhead an effort to get AEDs on all the crew foreman trucks in GC. GSR Ernie Pena talked about his struggles to get a comprehensive employee alert program implemented so that when PG&E employees are assaulted or there are other hazards, all employees are made aware ASAP. GC Equipment Operator Carson McAtee talked about the quick clot that they were able to get into the first aid kits because the crews in Bakersfield work in such remote areas that a serious laceration could be fatal due to the time it would take to get EMS on scene. One of the CTP safety stewards brought up the issue of having fog lamps on his vehicle for adverse driving conditions in the Central valley. He had tried repeatedly to get them through grassroots, and after he became frustrated he went to CTP — and the Committee was finally able to get this implemented for him.
The morning discussion was followed by a work group breakout session, where safety stewards in Construction, Field Services and Mark and Locate split into groups to discuss the issue they have encountered in their work groups, and how to work through them. The Field Services group talked about the pressure from management to produce, which can lead to short cuts in procedures. They also talked about our responsibility to speak up when we see something unsafe and to address it immediately — even when it’s a tough conversation to have. The company tells us to do the work safe, follow procedures and not cut corners — but it’s our responsibility to do it in the field, even when no one is watching. Mark & Locate talked about issues like inaccurate mapping, facilities without tracer wire, and traffic control issues when marking busy streets. The Construction group talked about whether or not short cuts are worth your job and your safety. When we take short cuts, for example working without proper shoring, we not only fail ourselves, but we also fail our families and our co-workers. Pushing back is not an easy thing to do, but it is necessary to be heard and effect change. No shortcut is worth any amount of time or ease of effort when someone gets hurt.
After lunch, guest speaker Brad Livingston shared the story of an accident that forever changed his life and the life of his family and co-worker; an accident that he could have stopped if he had just taken three minutes to follow a simple procedure, but he let himself be persuaded by a senior co-worker to do otherwise. You can see a short clip of Brad’s very powerful message in the video below.
IBEW 1245 Senior Assistant Business Manager Anthony Brown spoke about some of the issues that arose at the wildfire base camps. He explained that the union is in the business of encouraging the membership to do the right thing, while the company is in the business of enforcement. Brown also talked about the CAP program and noted that the customer satisfaction group will now be contacting whomever submitted the CAP to ask if they are satisfied with the resolution.
Business Manager Tom Dalzell stopped in towards the end of the summit to remark on how proud he is of the work that the peer programs are doing and how critically important it is for the membership to take ownership of these programs. He expressed his gratitude to all of the safety stewards and committee members in attendance.
CTP wrapped up the day with a more in-depth discussion about the CAP program, and asked all stewards who put in a CAP to please forward the number to their CTP committee member so that CTP can track and try to help them get the desired resolution.
All in all, the summit was very productive and well-received by all who attended.
–Casey Kelley, IBEW 1245 Business Rep
Photos by John Storey