The Peak of Safety

July 17, 2020

Nestled in the mountains of southwest Pennsylvania, Somerset is known for its beautiful scenery, picturesque farms, and rustic ski resorts. Generations of residents were born and raised in the area, and the values of tradition and community flow through the town – including at Penelec’s Somerset Line Shop.

“There is a real family atmosphere at Somerset,” said Jeff McCreery, supervisor, Regional Operations. From fleet mechanics to line workers to storeroom personnel to meter readers, everyone looks out for each other every day – and on every job.

Somerset’s 18 employees recently achieved 18 years without an Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)-recordable injury. They reached this accomplishment on July 5 – the same day as Lead Lineman Ben Whipkey’s start date at the shop – 18 years ago.

“I like to think that I am Somerset’s good luck charm,” he said with a chuckle. Ben grew up 20 minutes from the shop, so he is very familiar with the strong ties that run through the community.

“I consider the people at the line shop to be my work family,” Ben continued. “There are some weeks when I spend more time with them than I do with my wife and kids. We all get along and protect each other from injury.”

When asked if there was a secret to shop’s success, Ben replied that it all starts with a positive work attitude. “We have good communication, and everyone is on the same page when it comes to safety,” he added. “It’s a great group of employees, and I really enjoy going to work every day.”

Bargaining-unit employees at Somerset are represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 459.