Commitment to Zero Contacts
FreeState Electric Cooperative recently joined NRECA’s Commitment to Zero Contacts initiative launched in April 2018 to combat an alarming rate of serious injuries and fatalities (SIFs) among co-op lineworkers. A nationwide survey of 51,000 co-op employees conducted annually between 2006 and 2015 found an average of more than 23 SIFs each year.
FreeState also adopted the use of a job site safety briefing app developed for the program by Federated Rural Electric Insurance Exchange.
“This wasn’t just a quick box check-off for us,” said CEO Steve Foss. “We have taken our time and gone through our safety committee, and foreman group to review the concepts and thoughtfully look at ways we can continually strengthen the safety culture.”
Commitment to Zero Contacts suggests that co-ops avoid a “bad cop” mentality and instead focus on a system-wide approach that helps them:
- Clarify and define life-saving rules.
- Verify use of life-saving rules.
- Create effective job planning on all jobs.
- Form a structured safety-minded management process.
- Seek employee involvement.
All employees signed the pledge to use FreeState’s life-saving rules:
- Using personal protective equipment (gloves and sleeves);
- Application of personal grounds;
- Application of proper insulating material;
- Proper use of clearance procedures;
- To “speak up” and not accept, or walk by, a shortcut to safe work; and
- Slow down and perform effective job planning on all work.
“It’s an all-in mentality,” said Foss. “Not only did each employee sign the pledge, they received a Commitment to Zero Contacts key chain as a reminder of the pledge they signed.”
“It’s just part of our commitment to keeping our employees safe and return them to their families at the end of the day,” Foss added.