At Cherryland, safety is woven into the fabric of the co-op’s culture. And all that weaving is no easy chore. Over the years Cherryland has built and maintained an industry-leading safety program that extends to all parts of the organization. Learn more about this program from the man who helped build it and the man who will inherit it.
In your years at Cherryland, what are some of the most significant changes you’ve seen in the co-op’s safety program?
I’ve seen a few significant changes in our safety program over the years. First, lineworkers used to be responsible for buying all their personal protective equipment (PPE). Today, electric utilities are required to provide their lineworkers with all their PPE. Second, when I was an apprentice, we climbed most poles. Today, lineworkers use bucket trucks for most of their work. And third, safety is now a topic at every meeting in every department.
What challenges come with facilitating a safety program?
When your focus is being a leader in safety, it can be difficult for some to understand that the changes being made don’t mean that anyone is doing anything wrong. We have proud employees that make good decisions and want to do things the right way.
As you head off into retirement, what about Cherryland’s safety program are you the most proud?
It would first have to be Cherryland’s reputation as a leader locally and across the state. When fire departments, schools or other organizations are looking for someone to speak to them about electrical safety, they contact us (even when we don’t serve their facility!). Lastly, I am proud of our employees for making good choices. We train, we provide great equipment, we expect employees to follow the safety rules. And they do!
Cherryland thanks Jim Carpenter for his 39 years of service to the cooperative and wishes him well in retirement!
What about Cherryland’s safety program motivated you to take on this new role?
I’ve always been drawn to competition, training, and coaching. All those characteristics exist in the role of safety director. I once had a coach tell me to “just do the right thing,” and it always stuck with me as I coached, interacted with others, and parented my kids. Now, “doing the right thing” is my job.
What upcoming projects within the program are you excited about?
I am working on implementing software that can report, track, and analyze important safety data, including incidents, training, claims, and action items. This software will help us identify issues and give us specific targets for improvement. This technology can help us take our safety program to the next level and, more importantly, help us figure out the right things that will keep us safe.
Where do you see the safety program going?
Looking into the future, I see us utilizing technology to help make our safety program more accessible and easily implemented into our daily routines. As a cooperative, we have a responsibility to utilize our time, resources, and money effectively. Computers and mobile devices can get us answers and help us in many situations in just a couple of clicks. Ultimately, I would like to see Cherryland stay ahead of the curve and continually find ways to improve our safety program.
Commitment to Zero Contacts
Cherryland leadership and field personnel recently made a commitment to the Zero Contacts initiative, an initiative designed to provide cooperative CEOs, senior leaders, and field personnel with ideas and resources they need to help eliminate serious injuries and fatalities due to electrical contact and enhance co-op safety programs.
Joint Michigan Apprentice Program
The Joint Michigan Apprentice Program (JMAP) celebrated its first class of apprentices becoming journeymen electrical lineworkers last year. Two of Cherryland’s lineworkers participated in this state-of-the-art apprenticeship training program. JMAP is a partnership between Wolverine Power Cooperative, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 876 (IBEW), and Northwest Lineman College––an industry-leading educational institution that provides pre-apprentice, apprentice, and journey-level training.
New Electrical Safety Demonstration Kit
After decades of service to schools, civic clubs, and other youth organizations, Cherryland has retired “Lightning Liz” and the rest of the co-op’s electrical safety demonstration kit. Cherryland recently acquired a new kit for electrical safety presentations. If you are interested in scheduling a free presentation for your organization, contact Rachel Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.