An AEP safety motto is if you see something, say something. Columbus Technician Kris Silas sees more dangers than most … and, importantly, he also does something.

“I had a previous supervisor who said that if you don’t have time to take care of a bad situation right away, then when will you?” Silas says. “We’re all as busy as can be. But if something’s not safe then nothing else matters.”

Case in point: Last month Silas was driving home on Hamilton Road when he spotted something amiss with electrical equipment outside an abandoned Sonic Drive-In. The door of a padmount transformer had been removed and thrown into the bushes. (Copper inside the device had been stolen.) Equipment was exposed and the transformer was still humming – a serious safety risk to anyone who might come into contact with it.

Silas didn’t have his work phone or any personal protective equipment. But he wouldn’t let the situation go unresolved. So he turned his truck around, called his wife for help alerting the Distribution Dispatching Center and remained on the scene until a line worker arrived to de-energize the equipment and make the site safe.

“This was an awesome example of seeing something and then taking the necessary time to address it for the safety of others,” says Columbus Safety & Health Consultant Chris Echard. “If he had kept driving and not stopped to fix it, someone could have been seriously hurt.”

Silas, who was recently named by his peers as AEP Ohio Safety Champion for the month of August, has a history of being alert and recognizing safety hazards. In the past month:

  • He spotted a rotted AT&T pole that was held up only by wires. He contacted an AT&T inspector to get the pole replaced as quickly as possible.
  • He found a burnt crossarm that hadn’t been reported, so he wrote up a job request, notified a line crew supervisor and had the crossarm promptly replaced.
  • He correctly denied a builder’s demand to install a service drop three feet above a porch “roof.” Silas argued that the roof could easily be accessed through bedroom windows, classifying the porch more appropriately as a balcony.

Customer Design Supervisor Steve Fox says this isn’t uncommon; in fact, the full list of Silas’ hazard-recognition actually extends well beyond the past 30 days.

“Kris is always vigilant. He constantly keeps his eyes open for things,” Fox says. “He’s very observant. He’s never not thinking about safety and is always keeping that level of focus.”

Silas says he has a watchful attitude and he remains on the lookout for abnormal things that look awkward. His safety radar has rubbed off on someone else, too: his 12-year-old son, who now routinely reports unsafe poles and guy wires to his dad.

“Yeah, he kind of emulates everything I do. And I never really turn it off,” Silas says. “It’s all about protecting the public. Because God forbid someone gets hurt. It’s just the right thing to do.”

Posted August 28, 2019

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