SEC achieves safety milestone

Published 11:42 am Thursday, August 27, 2015

Southside Electric Cooperative (SEC) employees have worked continuously since July 10, 2013, without a lost-time injury.

SEC has experienced only one lost-time incident in the last five years.

“Our employees have accomplished a feat not often seen within the cooperative world, with over two years and 500,000-plus hours worked without a lost-time injury,” stated George Felts, SEC’s vice president of engineering & operations services.

Email newsletter signup

“This is a testament to each employee’s focus, attention to detail and their uncompromising support for one another. This milestone has been achieved while working under all types of weather conditions and is a demonstration of our employees’ commitment to provide our membership with the high level of member service that they deserve.”

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) continuously ranks “electrical power line installers and repairers” as one of the top ten most dangerous jobs in America. Despite this hazardous distinction, SEC has been steadfast in its commitment to creating a safe work environment for its employees.

“There was a time when the safety culture was really lacking; we were a low-performing cooperative in that respect,” explains Tony Powell, director of safety and loss control. “Jeff Edwards (SEC’s President/CEO) made safety a top priority when he joined SEC. Today, SEC has become a cooperative model across the country for our safety committee and safety performance.”

SEC has recently participated in the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) Safety Leadership Summit, which hosts over 900 electric cooperatives, and has been recognized as an industry leader — with safety rankings in the top quartile.

“Being a cooperative, our employees are woven into the fabric of our communities. Catastrophic injuries can have a ripple effect in the communities that we serve,” Powell said. “Our performance enhances lives of employees and members. Working as safely as we can in our communities improves life for all of us.”

In addition to safer working conditions, this milestone offers financial benefits as well. Since July 2011, SEC has saved $252,393 in insurance premiums and received significant rebates for worker’s compensation.

SEC is member owned, so savings are passed along to its members. Furthermore, power outages have been restored more efficiently since using safer work practices.

Powell is confident that SEC will continue to remain focused on safety. “I certainly think that our employees’ talent level is high and that we will be able to exceed what we have already accomplished. I believe that we can achieve five years without a lost-time incident. In our industry, that is unheard of.”