Employees of the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities power plant recently celebrated 750 days without a lost-time accident at the facility.
In celebration, the 25 employees of the Samuel A. Carlson Generating Station were awarded safety recognition shirts.
"We are proud of our employees for reaching this accomplishment in such a difficult work setting," said David Gustafson, power supply manager and engineer at the plant.
Jamestown Board of Public Utilities power plant workers are pictured during a recent tour of the plant.
P-J photo by Remington Whitcomb
Power plant operations supervisor Steven Dineen attributes the accomplishment to the support of the BPU board of directors, management, the safety compliance administrator and to the employees themselves.
"All employees at the power plant look for and demand the very highest of safety standards in all our operations," Dineen said. "This emphasis on safety is not based on just what we say, but more importantly, by what we do and how we do it."
All supervisors at the plant encourage an open door policy, where employees speak with managers about any safety concerns. If employees believe there is a safety issue of any sort, they have the authority to stop the job.
"At the power plant and throughout the utility, we are working to institute a culture of safety," said plant manager Steven Kulig. "We started first by talking about safety and then began holding monthly educational meetings about some aspect of safety. Now we have reached the point where, before any project is begun, the employees first discuss how to do the job safely. 'Safety first' has become more than a slogan - our employees actually are thinking safety. In walking around the plant now, it is normal to encounter employees who are talking about how to accomplish a project in the safest way possible."
In early 2011, the BPU created a safety compliance administrator position and hired Marty Tatoian, a lifelong veteran of "industrial hygiene" to assist in creating written policies, procedures and training in safety throughout the utility.
"The hiring of a safety compliance administrator helps us document training as well, with someone tracking what needs to happen and what has been completed," said Dineen.
Tatoian trains employees on various topics throughout the utility and is working with human resources director David Watkins, general manager David Leathers as well as others in developing written safety procedures and policies.
One program Tatoian has implemented at the plant is the "near miss" program, which encourages employees to report events that could have developed into an accident. Any employee may fill out such a form about a situation which the safety compliance administrator investigates. Near miss reports and solutions are discussed in meetings and an effort is taken to prevent near misses from becoming actual accidents in which someone is injured.
Part of the safety compliance administrator's job is to investigate other aspects of the utility such as hearing testing, to be sure work around certain machines or in certain areas do not adversely affect employee hearing. Another job of the safety compliance administrator is to monitor pearson protective equipment, checking it on a periodic basis to be certain it is still effective. Various work settings are evaluated for possible safety protective needs.
"Many of our employees work in dangerous situations," said Leathers. "They work with electricity, underground piping, big vehicles, rotating machinery, electric substations - we're in the traffic, in the streets. A majority of situations in which our employees work have potential for serious injury. We know that we've had serious accidents in the past and through continued efforts, improvements, training, policy enhancements, communications and an organization commitment to safety, we are working hard to achieve no accidents at the BPU in the future. What the power plant employees have accomplished, two years without a lost-time accident, is extremely noteworthy. It's what we expect as an organization in all departments and divisions. In the power plant, all of our collective efforts are showing the results we expect to achieve which is extremely important. I commend David Gustafson, Steven Kulig, Steve Dineen and the entire power plant team of talented and committed employees."