Great River Energy recently hosted a Safety Day event for transmission employees who work in safety-sensitive positions. Safety Day is time set aside for learning and continuing to build and strengthen Great River Energy’s strong safety culture.
Jonathan Geiger, leader of power system protection at Great River Energy, attended the day-long event and said he found it very valuable. One of the most popular topics was a Department of Transportation (DOT) presentation about commercial vehicle drivers. Geiger said the presenter answered many of the questions technicians had about commercial drivers’ licenses, gross vehicle weight rating and other commercial vehicle issues.
“I found the safety day to be very informative and well planned out,” he said. “I heard very positive feedback from the DOT information that was shared with the group.”
Other presenters discussed road right-of-way safety, whole-person safety, and gave updates on purchasing and caring for safety gear. A representative from Tailored Injury Prevention Solutions also shared tips to prevent inflammation.
“The stretching information was the thing that I will use most in my daily work,” Geiger said. “We were given much information on preventing sprains and strains and there have been many comments of how individuals have felt so much better just by using the tools we were shown for only a few days.”
The event was attended by approximately 100 field-based Great River Energy employees from all service centers and another 20 employees in other roles.
Pam Bagley, manager of safety and human performance, said another highlight of the event was simply getting people together that have similar roles in the company, but don’t see each other very often.
“Making or strengthening those relationships helps strengthen the safety culture when people do work together — and people are more likely to share good ideas or concerns when they have those interactions, too,” Bagley said.
Safety as a value
Safety is a core value at Great River Energy, meaning all employees are responsible for contributing to the safety culture in a positive way. David Saggau, the cooperative’s president and chief executive officer, often reminds employees that there is “no schedule or budget that is more important than doing the job safely.”
Great River Energy’s strategic plan has a strong emphasis on reliability and safety to promote and sustain safe, secure and healthy work practices. To further emphasize safety, division meetings are kicked off by employees sharing safety moments. These include reminders to do walk-around inspections before heading out in a company vehicle. Employees are also encouraged to share stories where something didn’t seem right so they stopped work to further evaluate the situation before continuing.
Great River Energy formed an Enterprise Safety Council in 2019 to ensure leadership would be accountable for setting safety policy and taking action to set GRE’s safety culture. The council is guided by its shared vision: “Safety is deeply ingrained in every person through leading, learning and caring.” The Enterprise Safety Council’s workplan identifies specific actions to strengthen the safety culture throughout the cooperative.
“The Safety Day was one of many examples of how Great River Energy shows that safety is the No. 1 priority for its employees,” Geiger added. “We have a great safety team and they’re bringing fresh ideas to the table.”