Special Guest Spotlight: John Morton, CUSP

Special Guest Spotlight: John Morton, CUSP
Last week was a rough one for our industry, with 9 incidents and 5 fatalities. Our friend John Morton with Willbros sent us an email, and with his permission we are sharing it with you:

If you have been keeping up with happening’s in our industry you know that last week our industry suffered 9 significant incidents/injury’s and of those 9 five were fatalities with another 1 or 2 hanging on life support as I write this. Age does not seem to be a factor as they have involved young folks and in one instance a 67 year old who fell out of a bucket in or near Jacksonville, FL. I know enough to get myself in trouble but I will share what I know on the fatalities.

  1. A second  year apprentice in North Carolina contacted 2 different potentials at the same time.
  2. A 67 year old lineman was thrown out of a bucket in Jacksonville, FL.
  3. An LCRA employee working in Kendall County outside of Boerne, TX. For those of you not from Texas, LCRA stands for Lower Colorado River Authority is a Generation and Transmission Cooperative in Texas. All we know is that he was working in a Substation, “A spokesperson for the LCRA tells KXAN the employee suffered a fatal injury but wouldn't elaborate on what happened or what led to the accident.”
  4. A 52-year-old Waikoloa man, while working for a utility company, was killed after a utility pole fell on him on Highway 19 in Paauilo. Hawaii County police said the company was using a boom truck at 10 a.m. today to replace a utility pole on the shoulder of the highway near mile marker 35. Witnesses said that as the pole was being positioned into place, the boom collapsed and the pole fell onto the man. Company workers removed the pole as first responders arrived.
  5. A lineman in Odessa, TX was killed Thursday but I do not know the circumstances or who he was working for.

One is too many and outrageous and five in one week is disgraceful!! Why so many? What is going on? Why do we put up with it? How do we stop it? Some people claim we have too many young people that have not been properly trained, really, a 67 year old and a 52 year old. In all fairness the one in Hawaii appears to be an equipment failure but how certain are we that all of the checks to ensure the equipment was safe to operate were performed. Just like our DVIR books most equipment check lists are just that, Check list that does not require anything other than a check mark in the appropriate box with no real inspection of anything. Pencil whipped? Maybe. I don’t know. I just know that my heart is hurting for all the families this week that will never again see their husband, father, grandfather, uncle, brother or neighbor that they were planning a Mother’s day get together with this month or even a Father’s day get together in June. If you are like me these four incidents are a punch in the gut!!
Our company is holding a stand down on Monday morning in all 13 states we have crews working and they are to be held at 7 AM in whatever time zone they are working in. If any of you are planning something similar I wanted to share what our topics will be during those stand downs and I hope all of you will be doing something similar. None of these incidents occurred at my company but I cannot help but wonder if sometimes we are doing some of the same things that caused or contributed to these fatalities at other locations. Anyway,  here is what I asked them to discuss during their stand downs tomorrow morning:

  1. Safety is about leadership and leadership is not what’s in your title, it’s about what’s in your character.
  2. Stopping unsafe work is not a right given to us by someone else; it is an OBLIGATION we hold ourselves and others to.
  3. Production done in the absence of safety will not be valued, EVER.
  4. Great Safety is not just about policies and procedures. Great Safety is about openness, honesty, communication and caring for one another.
  5. Focus on the task you are going to be doing today, yesterday is gone and will never return, tomorrow you can focus on the task for tomorrow.

Discuss these points with each other thru an open dialog and perhaps point out some of the things that you need to improve upon to make yourself a better person, a better citizen and a better and stronger employee. 
Many of you I do not know personally but I know what you do and if you are like me why you do it. I know that many of you are doing things every day to make your workplace a safer environment and I have never had an agenda but I think this is something that needs to happen on large scale to shake things up and get our folks back on the right track.
Thank you and God Bless,
John Morton, CUSP
Director, HSE
Willbros Utility T&D