Central Electric’s Mission Statement is “To provide reliable energy services with an emphasis on safety and member satisfaction.” At Central Electric, safety is not something taken lightly, and safety is a part of all the cooperative’s activities. Some of these activities are for the benefit of our members and members of our communities, and some are specific to our employees.
In January, we shared a power line safety video at all eight of our district meetings. The video was difficult to watch as it centered on a real tragedy that occurred near Yankton a few years ago. A young farmer on a family operation lost his life when the farm equipment he was using contacted a power line. Electricity does not offer second chances. The video stressed we all need to be more aware of our surroundings and explains what to do if you get caught in this situation.
Every spring your cooperative dedicates employee time to schools, farm safety events, and first responder training to educate everyone who will listen on staying safe around electricity. We have safety clings, pamphlets and stickers free for your use. Our website is loaded with safety information and links to other safety-oriented websites.
The cooperative has a nine-person safety committee and provides monthly safety training for employees. The committee reviews all accident reports to make recommendations on future training and accident prevention. Trainings are conducted by experts from the South Dakota Rural Electric Association, Avera Queen of Peace Hospital, and our own employees. These meetings cover a wide range of topics including CPR, first aid, lineman pole top rescue, proper lifting techniques, and many more.
We send employees to the campus of Mitchell Technical Institute to participate in refresher training on the proper use of personal protection equipment and working safely around high voltage. These training sessions allow our employees to learn the newest techniques and share best work practices among other cooperative employees.
Inspections are conducted daily, weekly, and monthly on vehicles and tools to identify problems before they arise. Before every job, our employees must conduct “tailgate” meetings, which ensure every employee understands their responsibilities, potential hazards, and that the group functions as a team.
The Rural Electric Safety Achievement Program includes onsite inspections of safety policies, procedures, and facilities. As part of this process, a three-person inspection team visits Central Electric to look for safety deficiencies and to provide recommendations for improvement.
Occasionally, our personnel find a public safety violation that requires us to contact you. These include stacking hay bales or building a grain bin too close to a power line. Each problem must be fixed, and sometimes there are costs associated with these issues. Please contact your cooperative before any construction or activity occurs near a power line.
Safety is everyone’s responsibility and thinking about your safety before you operate equipment might save a life. The bottom line is at the end of each day, we work to make sure everyone goes home safely to their families.