The employees of LaGrange County REMC reached a milestone in January of this year and celebrated 500,000 employee-hours without a lost-time accident since Jan. 7, 2000.
Twenty-four contributing employees, including retirees, had their names engraved on a plaque honoring their rigorous effort. A luncheon was held at the cooperative early this year to celebrate the half a million safe hours of work.
Sherryl Rhinesmith of LaGrange is the member services manager at LaGrange REMC. She is proud of the cooperative’s success, citing what a difficult task it is to maintain over 600 miles of power lines, 7,200 volts of power, and 7,000 customers.
Rhinesmith outlined some contributing factors to REMC’s record safety, including weekly company safety meetings, regular statewide safety seminars, good gear, and well-trained employees. “We take the safety of both the employees and the community very seriously here,” Rhinesmith stated. “We don’t cut corners, because even a pinhole [in safety routines] could mean losing a life.”
In addition to four years in apprenticeship, REMC linemen and other employees must log 8,000 training hours. Much of this training is dedicated to safety. Tree trimmers must also learn every aspect of keeping the community and themselves safe. “Safety is always our main concern,” noted Rhinesmith. It appears that REMC takes this safety milestone not as a shock, but as an expectation. The energy cooperative continues their accident-free service now, six months after they reached half a million safe hours.