Saturday, September 21

Stay Serious About Safety

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John Collins CEO, Chickasaw Electric Cooperative

Whether it is for work or for personal reasons, I often need to travel by airplane. At the start of each flight, the attendants give a safety demonstration. They show you what to do if the oxygen masks deploy, and they show you how to use a seatbelt.

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld has a funny routine about airline safety demonstrations. “They show you how to use a seatbelt,” he jokes, “in case you haven’t been in a car since 1965.”

The first time I traveled by plane, I listened to every word the flight attendant spoke as she gave the demonstration. Her words and instructions seemed very important. Today, however, the demonstration just blends into the other noises in the busy cabin, and I move on to other activities like checking my email or reading a magazine.

I have heard it before, so it hardly seems important.

Like the airlines, safety is serious business at Tennessee’s electric cooperatives.

Our employees attend mandatory safety meetings each month, and complacency is something they’re cautioned about frequently. When you do the same things day after day, it is tempting to take shortcuts, but second chances are rare for lineworkers who accidentally come in contact with power lines. The consequences of mistakes are incredibly high.

We remind our employees to be “everyday safe” — to give each job the same care and attention to detail as they did on their first days at the co-op. We stress the importance of carefully following practices and procedures and watching one another’s backs.

“Like our employees, we encourage you to be ‘everyday safe.’”

In addition to our employees, we also work to educate the general public about the dangers of being complacent around electricity. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation, thousands of people in the United States are critically injured or electrocuted each year as a result of electrical fires, accidents and shocks in their own homes. Many of these accidents are preventable.

May is National Electrical Safety Month — a time to educate yourself and your family about the dangers of electricity. Like our employees, we encourage you to be “everyday safe.” You can find great tips to do that beginning on page 20 and online at everydaysafe.org.

I suspect our messages about electrical safety probably garner the same level of attention as travelers pay to flight attendants. It is just more noise that blends into the background of our already-busy lives.

Even though I seldom pay attention to airline safety demonstrations, I think I would know what to do if there were ever an emergency on a plane. I have heard the same thing enough that it has sunk in, and that is why we continue to talk about safety. It may not be very exciting, but it is incredibly important.

Now, sit back, relax and enjoy the rest of your day.

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