On Aug. 2, more than 80 IBEW 1245 line safety stewards came together for the annual “Hold the Pull” (HTP) peer-to-peer safety summit in Vacaville.
“HTP is one of four peer-to-peer programs at IBEW 1245: there’s also Keep The Clearance (trees) Control The Pressure (gas), and Regulate the Voltage (substation),” explained Hold the Pull Committee Chair Mike Van Egmond as he welcomed the group. “We have a ton of experience in this room, and are glad to have you here! Special welcome to our brother from IBEW Local 53, (Missouri) and our brothers from the Outside Line.”
The summit began with a moment of silence for the IBEW 1245 members who died on the job. Their names appeared on a tombstone on the screen as the safety stewards stood with hats off to honor their memory.
Business Rep Fred Aboud and Safety Director Jody Castro emphasized that the union’s peer safety programs were developed as a response to these tragic member fatalities. The program exists independent from any employer and relies on member-to-member communication to prevent future injuries and fatalities.
“This is your program. It’s member driven. It was built by you, for you, and it’s 100% backed by your Business Manager, Bob Dean,” said Aboud, who coordinates the peer safety programs. “There’s a reason you are here – to make sure we don’t add to the tombstone. Our task: make sure everyone goes home from work at the end of the day.”
To underscore the importance of the peer safety programs, the summit attendees watched “Our Safety Code,” an IBEW 1245 video that highlights the life-saving importance of looking out for one another on the job.
The safety stewards then heard from keynote speaker Carlos Mendez of Echelon Front. A former Navy Seal medic and sniper, Mendez focused his talk on the importance of building relationships with the people around you, especially when lives on the line. He then facilitated a candid Q&A, where stewards asked questions about some of the challenging scenarios they’ve encountered with co-workers on the job.
This discussion helped to inform the first breakout session of the day, which focused on the role of the safety steward and emphasizing communication on the jobsite. After lunch, the group came together for an open discussion on how to overcome some of the road blocks they encounter when it comes to improving safety on the job. The stewards were able to share their experiences, learn from one another, and grow as safety advocates.
The summit also included a screening of the new Hold the Pull video, which features several HTP safety stewards and committee members explaining the program and how it works to save lives. Additionally, the group took some time out to recognize longtime steward and HTP Committee member Dan Mayo, who retired from PG&E this year.
“Dan was the glue of the committee – very hard to replicate,” said fellow HTP committee member Travis Border.
At the end of the day, the safety stewards left with a renewed sense of purpose and direction to continue the sometimes thankless but always essential work of looking out for thier unions siblings.
“Thanks to all of you for volunteering for this [summit],” said IBEW 1245 Safety Director Jody Castro. “Looking at all of you standing up for safety makes me so proud.”
–Eileen Purcell, IBEW 1245 Senior Advisor to the Business Manager