Electric cooperatives have an obligation to our employees and our communities to make safety, in particular electrical safety, a priority every day. That commitment is woven into the very foundation of our cooperative culture. Cooperative principle No. 5 — education, training and information; principle No. 6 — cooperation among cooperatives; and principle No. 7 — concern for community, all drive that commitment.
At a recent Manager’s Association meeting for Kansas electric cooperatives, the group discussed the importance of continuing to build a culture of safety within and outside the electric cooperatives. The group approved the creation of a safety summit, bringing together the state’s electric co-op managers, operations managers and safety coordinators.
The intention of the summit is for electric cooperatives to discuss programs and best practices with their counterparts that can be implemented to help reduce work-related incidents and to improve the overall safety culture of the electric cooperatives. This “cooperation among cooperatives” resulted in the inaugural Kansas electric cooperatives Safety Summit, which took place in August, with DSO Electric Cooperative in Solomon as the host. This first-ever Safety Summit attracted nearly 70 co-op employees from across the state to discuss best practices, accidents and near misses, liability and the next steps to continue these safety discussions.
This is important because while safety is certainly a leadership issue, it’s also an organizational and community issue. Every person connected to the cooperative plays a role in electrical safety. From the customer service employee who takes the first call about a downed wire, the parent teaching children how to safely fly kites away from power lines, to the linemen performing electrical safety demonstrations for students and civic groups. We are all an integral part of creating and maintaining a culture of safety. Safety is everyone’s responsibility.
Accountability starts at the top. In fact, the term “summit,” has its roots in the Latin word “summum,” which means “the highest.” KEC and your Kansas electric co-ops are committed to continuing to build a safety of culture for the benefit of employees and the consumer-members and communities we serve.
Lee Tafanelli is Chief Executive Officer of Kansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. in Topeka.