Coastal Electric’s workplace safety saves lives and money

CEC leadership pose with their safety awardCoastal Electric Cooperative was recently recognized for 10 years without any employee missing work due to an injury on the job—an impressive accomplishment, given the complexity and inherent dangers of the electricity industry.

“Our business inevitably involves risks from energized wires, working high off the ground and moving heavy items like poles—not to mention being out in storms to restore power,” says James Thomas, Coastal Electric Training and Safety Coordinator. “We strive every day to minimize these dangers by investing time and attention to safety measures and careful work practices.”

To acknowledge the co-op’s robust safety program, Coastal Electric was presented the No Lost-Time Award by Georgia EMC during its annual meeting Nov. 6 in Savannah. The award recognizes electric cooperatives that have outstanding work habits, resulting in no lost-time accidents during the preceding year.

Nationally, electric linemen suffered 18.6 fatalities for every 100,000 hours worked in 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared to C Coastal Electric’s workplace safety saves lives and money just 3.4 fatalities per 100,000 hours for the average American worker.

For the last 10 years, Coastal Electric boasts no fatalities or injuries at all requiring employees to miss time from work.

Advances in equipment and safety techniques, safety regulations and oversight lead to fewer accidents and less time away from work than in the past, according to Harry Reeves, Georgia EMC Vice President of Training and Safety. Still, the nature of the business makes avoiding injuries a challenge, no matter how many safety practices are in place.

“It’s a testament to all our employees,” Thomas says. “Our success and safety depend on all of us following carefully designed safety precautions to ensure we return home to our families at the end of each day.”

While protecting the safety of employees and the public is the primary goal of workplace safety and training, Coastal Electric’s stellar safety record also translates into significant savings for the cooperative and its members.

When an injury does occur, the costs go beyond emergency room visits and doctor appointments. Indirect costs, such as administrative time dealing with the injury, increases in insurance premiums, hiring replacement employees and even loss of reputation can add up to four times the direct cost of the injury.

So safety is not only good for co-op employees, but it is also beneficial for co-op members and the community.