AmerenUE's substation workers are not only using the latest tools and technology for their preventive maintenance program, they are also working to find ways to work more safely. The company has a Substation Worker Awareness Team (SWAT), which is comprised of the group's various safety representatives. They meet monthly to help each other champion safety as the guiding principle at UE.
In 2008, they began looking at several truck accidents that had occurred in recent years. Oftentimes, substation workers are so focused on working safely around natural gas or high voltage that they lose sight of the dangers of just getting to and from the job. For that reason, a group of UE substation employees produced a safety video to share with coworkers.
Some employees spend almost as much time driving to the site as working at the site. Substation workers often drive several tons of unwieldy equipment on public roads with other drivers who aren't always paying attention.
“A moment of distraction behind the wheel is just as hazardous as when opening or closing a breaker,” said Pete Sperruzza, substation supervisor.
That's what happened to H.P. Thompson, a chief line worker for Missouri Valley Division, UE. In the video, he shares his involvement in a collision during a snow storm while responding to a power outage.
The program reminds employees to focus on their driving and remember the differences between driving a UE truck and their personal vehicle they drove to work.
“When workers drive a large vehicle, they can't always see who's behind them, and it often takes longer to stop. In addition, some two-lane roads are too narrow to make tight turns,” said SWAT member Tony McClellan, electrical mechanic leader, UE.
The SWAT committee enlisted UE's Communications and Training Services to help produce the video. The program was distributed to safety representatives and advisors throughout UE.