As AEP employees continue to strive for Zero Harm, the Findlay line department can be being used as an example that a 100% safety record is achievable. That’s because the team recently hit an impressive safety milestone: 3,100 days without injury.
“Eight and half years of no pain or suffering – it’s an amazing achievement,” says Cherie Long, manager of distribution systems for AEP Ohio’s Western District. “It showcases this team’s dedication to each other and working safe each and every day.”
Jon Dishong has been with AEP Ohio since 1977 and supervised the Findlay line team since April 2018. We asked him how they reached this milestone.
What’s the secret to Findlay’s success?
It’s just communication, plain and simple. Everyone is watching out for each other. Old, young, no one is afraid to speak up if they have a question or need something explained to them.
Does this team do anything different?
Every barn I’ve ever been in does the same stuff. But some absorb it better than others. Some really take to it. A lot of it is the age group and everyone getting along with each other. In Findlay a lot of the guys have activities after work hours and even on the weekends. Their families and kids spend time together, too. It’s a real close-knit group.
As a leader, how do you build a strong safety culture?
I just talk to them. I feel them out. And I work on any issues that come up. Basically, I just try to make it as easy for them to do their jobs as I can. We have plenty of conversations and I do a lot of listening.
How are safe habits passed on?
Experienced linemen used to tell apprentices they were just dirt under their feet. Just get up the pole, they’d say. But they treat ’em good now. They’re good teachers. You still have days when they’re picking on each other, but they’re just feeling each other out and bonding. The young guys are a bunch of sponges: you explain it, they take everything in, and if they need help then you go over it some more. The older guys don’t mind taking the time because they know we’re all in this together.
Has safety changed much in your 40 years on the job?
Work practices have changed so much. And the safety equipment has changed so much, too. We used to climb poles in short-sleeve shirts; heck, we used to climb in polyester shirts. Now the company provides us with all this safety equipment. AEP really cares about us and wants us to be safe.
Published September 16, 2019