Recipe for Success

April 19, 2021

The Illuminating Company (CEI) Forestry group recently achieved 23 years without incurring an Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)-recordable injury or a controllable motor vehicle accident (CMVA). According to Frank McGraw, supervisor, Regional Operations, the team’s safety success over more than two decades is the result of three main ingredients.

“It all starts by having the right attitude,” said Frank. “You need to make safety a core value, incorporate safe work practices into your daily habits, and watch out for your coworkers.”

Virginia Bowman inspects a distributionline in a residential neighborhood for vegetation issues.​​

After employees have the right mindset, the next ingredient is planning. “Before performing any task, make sure you have a plan in place to complete the work safely,” Frank added. “It’s critical to complete job briefings before beginning any project, and if you are driving to a job site, map out your route before hitting the road.”

The third ingredient is being aware of your surroundings. The Forestry group’s nine employees spend the majority of their day in the field, performing vegetation management activities for CEI’s distribution and sub-transmission network. On any given day, they supervise contractors, inspect distribution lines located along busy roadways, deal with inclement weather, and walk through dense forests to check existing right-of-way corridor maintenance, as well as clearing for new rights-of-way.

“Three of the biggest challenges our employees face in the field are driving to work locations, avoiding dog bites, and preventing slips, trips and falls,” explained Frank. “We tell our employees to expect the unexpected, because you never know what is around the next corner – especially if you are on a customer’s property or walking along rugged terrain in the woods.”

Another way the CEI Forestry group keeps safety at the forefront of its daily activities is by sharing safety incidents during meetings. Each week, a different forester provides a safety message about a topic of interest both on and off the job, including tick bite prevention, winter driving tips, or even how to stay safe performing outdoor activities around your home.

“The primary role of our Forestry professionals is to help deliver safe, reliable electric service to customers, and they are excellent at their jobs,” said Virginia Bowman, manager, Forestry Services. “They focus on mitigating exposures for themselves, their coworkers and the contractors they supervise through vigilance and making good decisions.”

Virginia added: “I am extremely proud of the safety milestones this group has achieved. There is a real camaraderie among our foresters and a strong sense of family when it comes to keeping each other free from injury.”