Building, Maintaining A Successful Safety/Damage Prevention Program

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | January 2014, Vol. 69 No. 1

The company has employed several special methods and approaches to reduce safety incidents, including the Slippery Surface Simulator, a state-of-the art tool used to train employees that recently became part of Consumers Energy’s block training. Use of this simulator is expected to reduce the company’s number one cause of injuries: slips and falls.

After the 2012 death of an electric line worker who was hit by a vehicle when responding to a downed power line, a grassroots team was formed and became the impetus behind the Michigan legislature passing a Utility Worker Safety Awareness Day. The team continues to actively pursue other ways to encourage drivers to “slow down and go around” workers on or near roadways.

Consumers emphasizes safety is a 24/7 effort, not only at work, but also at home and at play, recognizing good safety habits away from the job are carried over to the workplace. Safety Fairs around the state are conducted by local Safety and Health Guidance Teams.

The payoff for these efforts is reduced accident rates.

In 2012, the American Gas Association honored Consumers Energy with a Safety Achievement Award for lowest DART (Days Away, Restricted or Transferred Rate) incident rate.

Strengthening of Michigan’s Miss Dig One-Call legislation passed in late November 2013 by the state legislature will have a positive effect protecting the underground utility infrastructure, believes Dirk R. Dunham, Consumers Energy compliance assurance director – gas programs.

Among its provisions, he said, is elimination of broad exemptions to the law, stipulation that fines for violations go to fund additional training and provides that offenders may be required to provide additional excavation safety training at their own expense.

Perhaps most important, the law provides for enforcement, which previous legislation did not contain.

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