Executive Vice President/General Manager
Safety is always the top priority at Tri-State
Elsewhere in this issue of Network you can read about some Tri-State employees who volunteered to provide a safety instruction program for avoiding electrical hazards to New Mexico’s firefighters and emergency medical responders at a recent training expo held in Socorro. In large part, this exemplifies the mindset and the commitment by our workforce in supporting and educating others about staying safe on and off the job.
As stated in our 2013 Business Plan, safety remains the number one priority within our primary mission of keeping the lights on for our members. We take that commitment seriously as an organization and we stress to all our managers and supervisors the importance of promoting a culture of safety at our power plants, among our field crews and at all of our facilities throughout our power supply network.
The key to safety and health excellence lies first within management leadership. Leadership empowers employees to get involved and take ownership of site safety. The winning combination of leadership and employee engagement is truly what sets extremely successful work sites apart from almost all other work places.
One good example of employee engagement has been evident in our participation in the Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP), in which companies establish a cooperative relationship with OSHA.
To enter into the program, a work site implements a comprehensive safety and health management system to meet certain established benchmarks. OSHA then conducts an evaluation and determines how well the program has been developed. Acceptance into VPP, which has already occurred at Tri-State’s flight operations facilities and Escalante Station, is OSHA’s official recognition of the outstanding efforts of our employees.
Of course, receiving accolades for safety improvements is gratifying, but it certainly is not a signal that employees at any of our other locations should be any less vigilant in their focus on protecting themselves and their coworkers from potential on-the-job hazards. As an enterprise we must continue to strive toward a goal of zero workplace incidents, whether or not it includes VPP recognition.
What are we doing to achieve the goal of eliminating hazards and practices that can lead to workplace incidents? We encourage our supervisors to hold daily job briefings at the start of all shifts to discuss any needed safety issues.
Regular safety meetings are being conducted at all locations to keep employees updated on work in-progress, the latest policies and procedures and any on-site issues that require clarification and discussion. These meetings are vital to the process of identifying and correcting safety hazards and issues.
We have established cross-functional groups at all our generating facilities — including personnel from maintenance, operations, engineering and planning — to focus on specific areas of the plants. One such group, the Safety Work Order Action Team (SWAT) at Craig Station, is making progress in pinpointing potential site hazards and implementing corrective measures.
In transmission maintenance we have relocated safety coordinators to our field locations so they can spend more of their time directly supporting our maintenance crews at their job sites.
This year we expanded our highly effective "safety toolbox" program to employees at all of our locations, including our subsidiary mine facilities. The guide outlines 12 key safety tools that should be followed by every department within Tri-State. And finally, comprehensive safety training for all new hires is a key component of our safety culture at Tri-State.
Ultimately, safety is the single most important factor in all work performed by our employees. That is why we are committed to the slogan, "No work is so important, no emergency so great, that we cannot take the time to do our work safely."
Updated: November 1, 2013