Co-op lineman earns MREA LIFEguard Award - Great River Energy

Co-op lineman earns MREA LIFEguard Award

Stearns Electric Association lineman Mike Siemers recently earned a LIFEguard Award through the Minnesota Rural Electric Association (MREA).

Stearns Electric Association lineman Mike Siemers with his LIFEguard on Duty sign.

MREA recognizes cooperative employees throughout the state who go above and beyond the expectations of keeping individuals safe through its LIFEguard program. Siemers, a journeylineman for Stearns Electric — one of Great River Energy’s 28 member-owner cooperatives — is credited with speaking up and potentially saving the lives of two fencing contractors.

Siemers was working in the field this past summer when he looked up and noticed two contractors about a block away installing metal posts for a chain link fence with a skid steer. It was then he realized they were about to start driving a metal post on top of where a Stearns Electric-owned underground power line was buried.

Siemers alerted his crew lead, Bob Barutt, who ran over to stop the contractors. He asked if they had any locates to dig in that area to which they replied they were told it was all clear; however, this was not the case.

Barutt explained the hazard to them as they were about to install a metal post into an energized, underground power line that was buried below them. The contractors were grateful after learning of the consequences and thanked the Stearns Electric line crew multiple times.

“The fence post that was going to be installed was 12 feet long and likely would have been driven five feet or more in the ground,” said Glenn Blommel, Stearns Electric’s manager of operations. “The stake for where this post would have been driven is on top of our energized three-phase power line that is around 4 feet deep. If driven before Mike spoke up, it’s likely someone would have driven the stake directly into the underground power line and could have been seriously injured or killed.”

MREA awarded Siemers the LIFEguard Award at a recent Stearns Electric employee meeting.

“We commend Mike Siemers as a LIFEguard who observed his surroundings, noticed a hazard to other workers and spoke up about it to his supervisor,” said Terry Ehli, safety specialist at MREA. “This quick action saved their lives and represented a key action in safety — to recognize our hazards and take action, even when it is not your co-worker. He lived his commitment to safety this day and actively cared for others.”

Siemers is the fourth cooperative employee to be recognized with a LIFEguard Award through MREA.

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