Utility Safety Leadership Development

Andrew G. Green and Pam Tompkins, CSP, CUSP

Oh, No! Changes in the Workplace

Oh, No! Changes in the Workplace

Change is rapidly becoming a common denominator for many utility safety programs for a variety of reasons. New equipment and automation bring changes to traditional work practices. Generational differences are changing the demographics of the workforce. Safety programs no longer focus just on OSHA compliance and lagging indicators. Certifications, such as the Certified Utility Safety Professional credential, are focusing on leadership, human performance, standards, hazard identification, operations and incident prevention techniques to achieve safety excellence.

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Tim D. Self, CUSP

That’s What I Meant to Say: Safety Leadership in Communication

That’s What I Meant to Say: Safety Leadership in Communication

Individually, the disciplines of safety, leadership and communication each encompass a broad range of specialized experience. Yet, if we look at the relationship between the three disciplines, we can create a general understanding of how safety and leadership are directly impacted by communication in a specific work environment.

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Chuck Woodings, CUSP

Apprenticeship Training

Apprenticeship Training

Apprentice training has been around as long as man has worked. I retired after a nearly 50-year career that began with an apprenticeship, and I currently act as a safety and training director, working with power line and electrical apprentices. My personal training was all on the job with almost no bookwork. A lineman I worked with gave me his copy of the “Lineman’s Handbook” and told me to read it. This book was perhaps the first version of a distance learning program. Fortunately, our crew leader was a very conscientious man and the linemen were exceptionally good. Several years later, with the mentoring of that crew, I became a journeyman.

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Michael S. Haro, Ph.D., CBSS

Behavior Safety Training for Safety Committee Members

Behavior Safety Training for Safety Committee Members

Industries concerned about bottom-line expenses tend to place behavior safety training low on the priority list. However, consider the direct costs your company paid for incidents, accidents, injuries, lost time, lost productivity, and damage to equipment or facilities during the past year. This article will outline a training program that can create significant safety advances as well as immeasurable returns on safe work practices.

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Mike Caro, CUSP

Integrity and Respect: Two of Our Most Important Tools

Integrity and Respect: Two of Our Most Important Tools

Few things are more difficult to establish or easier to lose than integrity. As safety professionals, if our workers, bosses and peers see us as people of integrity, we can ask things of them with a very real expectation that they will buy in, comply, participate and change. The level to which they will do these things is always a matter of degree, but trust built over time gives us options we otherwise do not have. Because integrity is such a key component of our success, it is worthwhile to spend some time considering how to build it, how to maintain it and what can destroy it. Many of these ideas are of particular importance to someone who is new to an organization or work group, but the applicability is in no way restricted to just these persons.

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David McPeak, CUSP, CET, CHST, CSP, CSSM

The Value of Safety Certification

The Value of Safety Certification

Certified. Qualified. Competent. What do these words mean and how are they interrelated? A customer of a utility contractor recently rejected an application from a safety professional who wanted to work on their project, stating he was unqualified. The safety professional had CSP certification and more than 20 years of relevant experience. He is obviously certified, and his experience arguably makes him competent, raising the question: Is it possible to be certified, competent and unqualified? During the same week, this contractor bid on another job that required a CSP on staff. So what, exactly, is the value of safety certification? The answer to that question obviously depends on who you ask, but what are the arguments?

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Ronald J. Schenk, CUSP

Effective Customer Relationships for Crew Leaders

Effective Customer Relationships for Crew Leaders

In iP’s earlier installments of the Supervisory Series (April 2011, June 2011, August 2011, October 2011 and December 2011), we discussed the importance of career development for lineworkers targeted for supervisory responsibilities. We also discussed the supervisory skills required to be effective as a crew leader or foreman, including a full article on human behavior and communication skills. Installments 4 and 5 dealt with crew best practices and safety management, respectively.

In this installment, we will discuss the foreman’s role in customer relationships.

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Ronald J. Schenk, CUSP

T&D Safety Management for Crew Leaders

T&D Safety Management for Crew Leaders

In iP’s earlier installments of the Supervisory Series (April 2011, June 2011, August 2011 and October 2011), we discussed the importance of career development for lineworkers targeted for supervisory responsibilities. We also considered the supervisory skills required to be effective as a crew leader or foreman, including a full article on human behavior and communication skills. In the last issue we dealt with the concept of crew best practices.

In this installment, we will focus more on crew practices, specifically those concerning crew safety management.

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Tyrone Tonkinson, Ph.D., P.E.

CUSP Basics: Introduction to Human Performance Principles

CUSP Basics: Introduction to Human Performance Principles

Have you been involved in an accident investigation? It's very sad when we find out after the fact that some very simple actions or decisions led to a tragic outcome. Wouldn't we be better off if we could anticipate incidents and prevent them? In 1990, human performance emerged as a new area of study that uses our knowledge of human nature to prevent events. This article provides some of the principles to start your journey on the road to prevention. These principles are also the basis for the human performance section of the Certified Utility Safety Professional (CUSP) program. To find out more about the program, visit www.usoln.org.

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Ronald J. Schenk, CUSP

T&D Best Practices for Crew Leaders

In iP’s earlier installments of the Supervisory Series (April 2011, June 2011 and August 2011), we discussed the importance of career development for lineworkers targeted for supervisory responsibilities. We also discussed the supervisory skills required to be effective as a crew leader or foreman, including a full article on human behavior and communication skills.

In this installment, we will discuss a concept of fieldwork known as best practices. As you will see, it is not enough that the foreman be effective as a personnel supervisor. It is just as important to understand the work practices the industry has accepted as critical in maintaining safety for crew members.

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Michelle Brown

Safety Circuitry: The Power in the Brain

“What was he thinking?!” This frustrated question of supervisors, managers and safety professionals speaks directly to the future of safety in utilities. What are workers thinking when performing unsafe acts or walking past hazards, if indeed they are thinking at all?

For companies to realize their goal of zero incidents, an understanding of thought, attention, motivation and decision-making is a must. They must now enter the realm inhabited by psychologists for decades, the world of the human brain.

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Parrish Taylor

Cultivating a Mature Workforce

Cultivating a Mature Workforce

Your workforce is one of your project’s greatest assets. From the top down, the maturity of this asset has a dramatic impact on your safety culture and ultimately your bottom line.

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Ronald J. Schenk, CUSP

Human Behavior and Communication Skills for Crew Leaders

Human Behavior and Communication Skills for Crew Leaders

In iP’s earlier installments of the Supervisory Series (April 2011 and June 2011), we discussed the importance of career development for lineworkers targeted for supervisory responsibilities, as well as the supervisory skills required to be effective as a crew leader or foreman. In this installment, we will discuss one additional set of supervisory skills that are possibly the most critical for the new supervisor: human behavior and communication.

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Ronald J. Schenk, CUSP

Supervisory Skills for Crew Leaders

Supervisory Skills for Crew Leaders

In iP’s first installment of the Supervisory Series (April 2011), we discussed how many organizations react when they are in sudden need of a crew foreman. Most have no career development plans for their lineworkers and have not taken the time to adequately prepare qualified crew members to move into a supervisory position. A quick decision is made out of desperation to promote the best employee we can find at the moment. Unfortunately, with good intentions, we often set up our best employees to fail this way because they have not been properly prepared for their new responsibilities.  

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Ronald J. Schenk, CUSP

Crew Foreman Needed: Who Do We Pick?

Crew Foreman Needed: Who Do We Pick?

It happens all too often. We need a foreman as soon as possible. The crew leader position is vacant for any number of reasons – often suddenly – and we need someone now.

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Shawn Galloway

Innovate or Follow: The Argument Against A Best Practice

Innovate or Follow: The Argument Against A Best Practice

Careless adoption of a best practice may result in placing dangerous blinders on individuals within the organization, ceasing the search for vital fresh approaches. Someone, somewhere, pioneered the approach you are considering. Is your goal to innovate, or follow?

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Michael S. Haro, Ph.D., CBSS

Mind Control: Distractions, Stress and Your Ability to Work Safely

Are you easily distracted? If yes, your stress levels likely rise with these distractions and your potential human error risk increases. Sociologist William Helmreich, professor at the City University of New York, states: “The gift of intelligence is critical to survival in everyday situations.” He goes on to say, “This basic intelligence enables people quickly to size up situations, break down and analyze problems, and make good decisions.” (Sherwood, Ben. The Survivors Club. Grand Central Publishing, 2010, page 175.)

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Shawn Galloway

Heard It Through the Grapevine

When searching for ways to improve safety and safety culture, many companies administer safety perception surveys to identify areas for improvement. A common category that is probed is management’s support for safety. When positive perceptions are identified, many organizations will move on to other categories. However, it is important to understand what is influencing a positive perception within a culture if you would like it to persist.

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John Boyle

Error-Free Performance: Part II

This month we continue with the remaining tools that will help you with error-free performance. First, a quick recap:
• Human error is normal, but can be provoked by practices found in the workplace and by traps in organizational processes, procedures and culture.
• When applied in the moment, a series of techniques called “tools” will catch errors or help avoid error traps.
• A tool can be used alone or multiple tools can be used depending on the complexity of the task.
• The challenge is developing the habit to routinely use tools. They are used every day by emergency room personnel, 911 center operators, pilots and air traffic controllers, nuclear plant personnel and employees of other businesses where errors create unwanted consequences. These tools are used around the world because they work.

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John Boyle

Error-Free Performance

Have you ever:
• Driven through a stop sign without realizing it because you were deep in thought?
• Lost your place while reading a book?
• Gotten distracted while performing a task and ended up having to do it again?
• Found yourself writing the wrong year on a check in January?
• Taken direction over the phone only to realize you’re lost when you attempt to follow what you wrote down?
• Built or assembled something only to find out you have to rebuild it because there are leftover parts?

Human error is natural, but can be provoked by workplace practices and traps in organizational processes, procedures and culture. Understanding human error helps us realize that we, as human beings, possess a wide range of capabilities, yet we also have many limitations.

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