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Do it without thinking.

Susan Dunlap

From our Safety Manager, Susan Dunlap.

I received this text at 4:11 am on Sunday morning: “Thank you for teaching me.”

Usually a middle-of-the-night text means bad news. But this story has a happy ending. The RUS supervisor who texted me was referring to a Red Cross CPR/First Aid class that he took at our home office on December 26, 2018. On Saturday, January 11, he used what he had learned to perform CPR on his 21-year-old nephew.

“He didn’t have a pulse,” the supervisor wrote to me. “I drug him out of the chair and started compressions and blowing air in him. I didn’t count or anything. I just did it without thinking.”

Thanks to the employee’s quick response, his nephew’s pulse resumed before emergency personnel arrived on the scene. “I was going to stay up here this weekend (on the job site),” the supervisor said. “But I think God sent me home instead.”

To this employee, I want to express my sincerest appreciation:

  1. Thank you for paying attention in CPR class.
  2. Thank you for remembering what you learned.
  3. Thank you for taking action in an extremely stressful situation.

This simple text sums up why I love my job. Let us all take the skills we learn in workplace safety training home to our families, each and every day. We want to be ready when our loved ones need us the most. And in the words of the RUS supervisor, do it without thinking.

Who is going the extra mile at work?

Susan Dunlap

Most every industry has a version of a safety walk-through. But when the tone of the walk-through resembles a military inspection, the purpose of promoting safe work practices can be lost. Employees often resent the “gotcha” approach to infractions, instead of helpful suggestions to improve safety.

Part of the job is for everyone to be on the lookout for potential errors, but everyone should also take notice when they see best practices at work. Safety reports should include what the crew is doing right, along with how they can improve.

This photograph tells a great story. This crane operator is cleaning a stain on the floor of the powerhouse (with a scrub brush) during a break in his crane operating duties. No one asked him to clean up this spot. It needed attention, so he attended to it. This crane operator’s action needs to be the main focus of the next safety meeting. He exemplifies a best practice at work – let’s say thank you.

I once attended a safety meeting where there were twelve people in the room. The topic of conversation was safety glasses, one of the most important pieces of PPE on a job site. But the specifics of the safety violation made me wonder if we were missing the point. At the end of the day, a millwright was exiting the building. A safety manager wrote up a citation because the employee removed his safety glasses as he walked to his vehicle. There was no signage requiring PPE in job site parking lot, and no other crew members were familiar with this rule. Can you imagine how that employee felt about safety at that moment?

There is no question that a safety walk-through needs to uncover unsafe and potentially unsafe working conditions. If we foster a good working relationship between the employees and the safety professionals, then the employees will point out their concerns and even suggest the best corrective actions. We all need to be on the same side when it comes to safety. And we need to thank the crane operators and the other pro-active employees on our job sites for a job well done!

Historic Hydropower

Susan Dunlap

Hydropower was the first large-scale renewable energy source used in the US. Many of the hydro sites where RUS works today are well over 100 years old. While we all count on the reliability of hydropower, it is easy to forget how revolutionary the idea was in 1895 to transmit generated hydropower over cable lines to homes and businesses.

We recently ran across a book called Men and Volts: The Story of General Electric, written by John Winthrop Hammond in 1941. Hammond explained that twenty-five GE motors (newly installed in 1895) drove all the spindles in the Pelzer Manufacturing Company’s Upper Mill, which was the first cotton mill in the US to use transmission cable. Captain Ellison Smythe, the mill’s owner, showed true courage to sign a contract for electric motors instead of the mechanical rope drive that his other mill’s used. The public was skeptical – and the mill hands were convinced that the scheme would never work.

“On the day the mill started operation, a kind friend approached Captain Smythe … and offered his condolences on the failure of the electrical transmission system. ‘I’ve watched those wires all day,’ he said, ‘and they haven’t moved yet.’” The story is told that mill operatives placed pails beneath the wires, in order to “to catch the electricity that fell off.”

Those same electrical motors that successfully powered Pelzer Manufacturing quickly became a hit with other industries, including “mines, shoe factories, yarn mills, tanneries, powder mills, watch factories, and even for blowing church organs.” And Smythe did not stop there – the Pelzer Manufacturing Company’s Upper Mill was the first mill in the country to use incandescent lighting.

At RUS, we know that hydropower is renewable and reliable – and we appreciate that it is also historic. Thank you to the visionaries of 1895!

Sources – Hydro Review, October 1997, and Electrical World, March 14, 1896, as found at www.reference.insulators.info. Photo credit: https://reference.insulators.info/publications/view/?id=10261

 

Setting the Tone for Safety

Susan Dunlap

How does RUS demonstrate a sincere commitment to safety? While safety policies regulate our work place, it is our actions that set the tone for safety in everything we do. RUS’s President/CEO Dan Cothran came up with a suggestion recently that sends a clear message about the company’s culture of safety.

Two RUS crew members were assigned to a welding job at a hydro facility. They needed to be re-certified in First Aid/CPR before the job started. Susan Dunlap, Director of Operations, scheduled an on-site Red Cross course for the two employees. Due to the small class size, she opened up the registration to the home office employees. When no one was free on such short notice, Dan suggested offering the course to family members (with RUS covering everyone’s training cost).

Two employees responded by enrolling their children– and that’s how Maggie and Avery came to CPR/First Aid training at Regional Utility Services. Maggie is a 26-year-old school teacher – headed off to Maryland this fall to teach high school Spanish at Barrie School. Avery is a rising sophomore who is interested in pursuing a career as an EMT.

“Their energy and enthusiasm made a great addition to our class,” said Donnie Harris, RUS welder. “And it was nice to get to know two kids who we hear so much about

at work.” After receiving her certificate, Maggie thanked RUS for providing her with the training she needed for school. “Now I have the skills I need to help someone during a crisis – at home and at school.”

RUS got the chance to demonstrate their commitment to safety – on and off the job site, at work and at home, for our employees and for our families. That’s the culture of safety that we want to always have in place.

Visit RUS at Hydrovision 2018

Susan Dunlap

Come visit Regional Utility Services at Hydrovison this summer! We’ll be in booth 531 from June 26 to June 28 at the Charlotte Convention Center. Hydrovision is the largest worldwide gathering of hydro professionals – there will be 320 exhibiting companies from around the world. RUS is proud to be a part of this amazing event!

We know how busy a trade show can be for attendees, with 60 conference sessions offered in only three days. So we invite you to visit us. The RUS booth features comfortable sofas and chairs in a relaxed setting. Stop by, put your feet up, and get to know us. If you have any questions about our services, Technical Director Jerry Moody (with his 30+ years of hydro experience) will be on hand to share his knowledge and expertise.

RUS is dedicated to ensuring the future sustainability of hydro. We have successfully completed projects for Alcoa, Duke Energy, Enel Green Power, Santee Cooper, Southern Company, TVA, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and many other hydroelectric companies across the Southeast. Our RUS hydro crews provide cost-effective solutions, from water in to water out.

Look forward to seeing you at Hydrovision 2108!