Doing what you promise is necessary. It’s necessary for building trust; it’s necessary for providing excellent customer service; and it’s necessary for keeping people safe, too.

His peers understand this, which is why the AEP Ohio state safety committee named Josh Freeman, a Chillicothe line mechanic, its safety champion for April.

Freeman was recently assigned a job temporarily shutting off service to a local warehouse so its personnel could perform infrastructure maintenance and repairs.

As with every job, Freeman performed a pre-job briefing before the work began. In this case, that meeting included a group of electricians and other contract workers.

“I go step by step. I make sure the people there know exactly what I am going to do and I know what they’re going to do,” Freeman said. “That way everyone is on the same page and clear about what we’re doing. If anyone has any questions, we can inform each other so there’s no confusion.”

Freeman talked to Neil Volk, an electrical engineer for another company performing repairs the the facility, and they agreed that once the power was turned off Freeman would NOT re-energize it until Volk personally gave him the go-ahead.

The work took a few hours to complete. Freeman was asked by one of the other contractors to please reconnect service … but Freeman refused. He hadn’t received the OK from Volk.

That approval did finally come – Freeman was also careful to make sure the original team was safely outside the building and each and every one of them was within his line of sight – and power was restored.

Sound simple? It can be. But according to Senior Safety & Health Coordinator C.J. White, the seven-year lineworker set a clear and invaluable example.

“Our word of honor is sacred,” White said. “When we have a job briefing, we need to follow through with what we discussed. Once we lay out the critical steps, that’s what we have to do. It’s how we prevent people from getting hurt.”

Volk (who been doing this work for more than 30 years) was so impressed by our employee’s professionalism that he took the time to send us an email. You can read it below.

I deal with a lot of linemen. Most do good work, some do poor work, a few are superior.  

Today, I worked with your linemen, Josh. He ran into a problem and solved it. The man did the job he’s being paid for and I appreciate that.

I’m writing to tell you how superior his communication skills are. He and I had an agreement that when it was time to turn the power back on, he would only do so after hearing those words from MY mouth.

He honored that agreement, in spite of hearing that request from someone other than me.

That speaks well of Josh. Very well, indeed!

It could have turned out differently today. Those of us in this field know how easily miscommunication can create disaster.

But it turned out very well. I got to go home and kiss my grandchild, my son got to go home and kiss his wife, and my other man got to go home and hang out with his lonely sister. Life went on! 

Please thank Josh from me, my wife, my son and his wife, the new baby, the sister of another coworker. This day ended well!

Respectfully, 

Neil & Jake Volk

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