Safety first and always

Pat O’Loughlin, president and CEO of Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives

Safe, clean, affordable, and reliable — that’s what we strive for in delivering electricity to your home. It’s easy to take the “safe” part of this formula for granted, but electric cooperative employees keep electrical safety at the top of our minds every day. May is National Electrical Safety Month, a time for all of us to reexamine our surroundings and determine those steps that we can take to prevent the deaths, injuries, and economic losses that occur each year because of electrical hazards.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly 50,000 fires in U.S. homes annually are caused by electrical failures or malfunctions. Statistics also tell us that vehicle accidents hitting electrical poles have seen a sharp increase in recent years. Farm equipment coming into contact with electric lines continues to cause serious injuries and damages every year. Your local electric cooperative can help with safety tips and information — folks on staff are always willing and eager to help make your home or workplace safer.

We’ve also put an increased emphasis on our own workplace safety. About a decade ago, we recognized that injuries and lost-time accidents among electric cooperative employees were occurring at a stubbornly high rate. Cooperative leaders came together to raise our awareness about safety issues and to commit to creating a culture of safety in our workplaces. The results have been dramatic: The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association reports a 30 percent decline in the number of co-op workplace accidents over the past nine years.

The brand-new Central Ohio Lineman Training (COLT) facility not only is a state-of-the-art job-training facility, but also puts a focus on safe job performance at the core of each of its programs.

We appreciate your help. As members of your electric co-op, if you see any potentially dangerous situations, please report what you see to your local office as soon as possible. We have seen that when we’re aware of our surroundings and vigilant about our safety, we can improve the safety culture in our organizations. The same is true for our families, our teams, and any groups to which we belong.

Thanks for the help, and stay safe!