At AEP Ohio there’s a personal duty to educate the next generation of electrical workers. To pass on knowledge once given to us; to show new team members the right and wrong way to complete a job; to make sure our brothers and sisters go home safe at the end of the day.

We have many techniques and training programs to identify and teach the new class. And one of our contractors has a unique way for immediately recognizing someone who might need extra help: green hard hats.

Asplundh – the company that performs a majority of AEP Ohio’s tree trimming – gives green hard hats to every one of its entry-level crew members. These new hires wear the hard hat for one year as a way for everyone to identify the newest person on a job site. During site visits, other leaders or members of the safety team can quickly spot an inexperienced worker and have a conversation about safety and following proper procedure.

“I think it’s a real good thing. It’s a clear, visible indication of who may need attention,” says AEP Ohio Region Forestry Supervisor Rich Simpson. “I focus in on them and engage them and ask them questions. I make sure they understand the expectations set by me and by AEP Ohio, especially when it comes to safety.”

When employees graduate past their “green” year they earn an orange hard hat. It’s a big moment that employees really look forward to, Simpson says – something like a promotion for team members who have “earned their stripes.”

For those who progress even further, a white hard hat is reserved for the foreman. He’s the crew leader who’s responsible for the safety and production of his team as well as the equipment assigned to it. Similar to the green hats, visiting leaders can immediately recognize the foreman and ask questions about safety procedure and whether proper precautions are being taken.

“To be honest I think it’s a great idea,” Simpson says. “I really like being able to see them right away and zoom in on them. Because when employees are new that’s the time when you really want to set a good example when it comes to safety.”

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