How Comcast Cable strongly encourages its employees with
responsibility for safety to obtain Certified Utility Safety Administrator (CUSA) certification. Should your utility do the same?
Everyone involved with the utility industry has experienced dramatic changes in the past several years. The effects of deregulation and reorganization have touched us all. Early in this change process, a group of forward-thinking utility safety professionals gathered to discuss the potential of establishing a unique, utility-specific safety certification. This certification would be designed to recognize the legacy of experience of existing utility safety professionals and provide a framework for guiding future utility safety professional development. These leaders wanted a way to prevent the loss of years of valuable safety experience among their colleagues that seemed inevitable in the face of deregulation and reorganization.
Those individuals were leaders in the newly formed National Safety Council's Utilities Division, and the result of their vision and hard work was the establishment of the "Certified Utility Safety Administrator," or "CUSA" designation. The National Safety Council Utilities Division continues to manage and direct the CUSA program, under the auspice of the CUSA Board, which is comprised of member utility safety professionals.
Comcast Cable and CUSA
Early on, safety leaders at Comcast Cable recognized that a utility-specific certification would have particular value to their organization. Comcast Cable had grown into the company it is today through several avenues, including acquisitions and directed growth. A consistent, unified safety certification would help provide people from various company cultures with a unified foundation to achieve improved safety performance.
Along with Comcast Cable's early involvement with the NSCUD and CUSA, Comcast Cable strongly encourages all of its employees with jobs that have 50% or greater safety responsibility to obtain CUSA. To help with that pursuit, we have sponsored CUSA exams at our two most recent national safety symposiums. Prior to each of the symposiums, employees gathered in study groups to review the CUSA-related safety topics and to encourage each other while learning together.
Comcast Cable has had more than 30 employees who have studied, sat for exams and received certification at these symposiums. We also have had several others receive CUSA after studying and taking the exam on their own.
We promote CUSA among our safety team because we strongly believe that it makes them better safety professionals and better at their jobs. It also provides consistency in knowledge across a decentralized organization. And finally, it provides our employees with an industry-best safety certification that will be of value to them throughout their careers.
The first step in obtaining CUSA certification is establishing the applicant's job experience. CUSA certification requires five years of safety experience, with at least 50% of job time being safety-related. Three of these years must be utility safety-related. The other two years can come from "safety-related" experiences in the military, public service, business or industry.
Safety-related experience under CUSA falls within the following areas: Safety & Health, Industrial Hygiene, Emergency Management, Fire Service, Security, Risk Management, Occupational Health, and Environmental Sciences.
Some of the topics included in the CUSA exam are:
• Confined Spaces
• Energy Control
• Fall Protection/Climbing
• Fire Protection
• Personal Protective Equipment
• Trenching and Shoring
• Engineered Safety Systems
• Electrical Safety
• Machine Guarding
• Material Handling
• Walking/Working Surfaces/Ladders
• Work Area Protection
These categories represent performance-based competencies established by the CUSA developers that involve specific procedures directly related to daily operations in the utility work environment.
The certification process starts with an application, including experience and references. After approval to sit for the exam is granted, the applicant can arrange to take the exam at a variety of examination test sites. Once authorization is issued, the applicant has one year from the date of notification to take the exam at an approved site. Examinees who pass are provided with a CUSA certificate/wallet card.
Certification is maintained through an annual renewal process, which includes completing a minimum of ten contact hours of continuing education each year.
The program future
Comcast Cable already has 36 employees currently with CUSA and anticipates adding more in 2008 and beyond. We also encourage our colleagues within the telecommunications industry to consider using CUSA among their teams to help expand their effectiveness. We are firmly committed to supporting CUSA as we believe it provides lasting value as the premier certification for utility safety professionals. ip
Ken Flechler, VP of Safety and Compliance, Comcast Cable