“The danger which is least expected soonest comes to us.” – Voltaire
Recently at the IBEW 1245 union hall, 10 rank-and-file IBEW Local 1245 Members from PG&E, NV Energy, & SMUD, along with Business Representative Fred Aboud, joined together to stand up a new Peer-to-Peer Safety Committee for substation, generation and operations personnel. This committee came to be known as the “Regulate the Voltage” Peer Safety Committee. Our intent with building this committee is to try to mimic the success of similar committees in 1245 such as the “Hold the Pull” Committee of linemen from a cross-section of 1245 employers and Outside Line, the “Control the Pressure” Committee for our Members working in gas, and the “Keep the Clearance” Committee for our line clearance tree trimmer brothers and sisters.
We’re still working to build our new committee from the ground up, but once we get it up and running, it’s going to be a Safety Initiative similar to those mentioned. This is not to be confused with Grassroots Safety, as there is no company involvement with these committees; they’re created, designed, and managed by 1245 members for 1245 members. Each program has an Advisory Committee consisting of rank-and-file members who oversee the activities of the program. Each Advisory Committee member works with a pool of safety stewards — motivated, driven volunteers who understand safe work practices, follow them, and encourage and inspire others to do the same. Unlike a traditional shop steward, safety stewards do not file grievances and are not required to join company safety committees or participate in accident investigations. Their role is to keep their Peer Advisory Committee member aware of safety conditions at their workplace and, if needed, to request the committee intervene when an unsafe situation exists.
These Peer-to-Peer Initiatives exist wholly outside of company safety programs. Company safety programs have their place and have various ways to encourage employees to work safely: training, reward, recognition, and discipline. At times, these tools may work, but none of these alone can create a safety culture based on taking personal responsibility for oneself and accountability for one’s fellow worker; being your sister’s and brother’s keeper.
The Peer-to-Peer Initiatives are dedicated to creating a safety culture that motivates union members to find other means to promote their own personal safety through mutual support, camaraderie, fellowship, and protection on the job. I’m honored to have this opportunity to reach out to the membership to make everyone aware of this new committee.
Every one of you has unique experiences and ideas, and can bring something valuable to the table. Those of us who are newer to the industry have the opportunity to perpetuate a culture of safety that can ultimately save lives, and those who have been around the block a few times have the unique perspective and experiences that can be passed on and incorporated into how we safely transition into the future of our industry.
Coming aboard as a Safety Steward is an excellent way of getting more involved in the union, making a positive impact on your work groups, and sounding off when it comes to safety concerns, as well as bouncing ideas off of personnel from other entities and lines of business. If Regulate the Voltage sounds like something that might interest you, or even if you just want to come to one of our meetings to check it out and see if you’d dig it, feel free to reach out anytime, 707-880-5784, firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also reach out to Fred Aboud at MFA1@IBEW1245.com and he can talk to you more about what we’re trying to build and get you plugged in to whichever initiative would be right for you. Spread the word!
–Mike Tilden, IBEW 1245 Regulate the Voltage Peer-to-Peer Safety Committee Chair