Don Brouse, a technician in Coshocton, has been named AEP Ohio Safety Champion for the month of June. Brouse is planning to retire in April 2020 and is being recognized by his peers for 45 years of injury-free service.

What are some common safety hazards a technician faces?

Ninety percent of it is driving. Then once you go onsite, onto the customer’s property, it’s hard to tell what you might encounter. During storm assessment you’ll run into anything from downed power lines to fallen trees to hazards while walking through the yard, you name it.

What’s the secret of staying safe for 45 years?

AEP is very safety oriented. Safety is always first. And it’s a real team effort. All the people I’ve ever worked with, safety is always the first thing they’ve talked about. We’re lucky that the company cares so much about safety and the people around us do, too. When they work safe, it makes you want to work safe. And it goes both ways: When you work safe that encourages others to also work safe.

How has safety changed?

Well our equipment improves every year. It keeps getting better and better. And it works. I mean, who would have ever thought of backup cameras? When I started there was no radios in cars, no air conditioning, no nothing. The training we receive is also very, very good.

Are there any Zero Harm principles that really hit home for you?

The one that really stuck in my mind was “no operating condition or urgency of service can ever justify endangering the life of anyone.” What that’s telling you is don’t take chances. Follow the rules and you’ll go home safe. You can take that message with you because it applies at home, too.

What safety habits will stick with you when you retire?

Completing safety briefings before you go out on a job has really, really helped me. So I’ll always look at the big picture first, looking over each project and every hazard that can occur. I’ll never go ahead if I’m unsure. Because something in the back of my mind has sunk in – someone cares about my safety.

Published July 1, 2019

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