MEC Builds Industry-Leading Safety Program – Presents at National Safety Summit

As a top industry safety practitioner, Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative’s President and CEO John C. Lee, Jr., is pictured in a panel discussion at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s (NRECA) Safety Leadership Summit in Fort Worth, Texas, sharing insights on safety and zero incident strategies.

Chase City – A primary concern of any organization should be the safety and well-being of its employees, and Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative (MEC) consistently demonstrates its focus to ensure its employees return home safely to their families each and every day. Electric distribution work is inherently dangerous and requires utilities, like MEC, to be intentional in administering a very effective safety program for its workers; as a result, MEC delivers a premier safety culture and turns in industry-leading ratios.

However, Cooperative management and staff recognize the need to challenge themselves to obtain the highest levels of safety for their employees, members/owners, and the general public.

Recently three of MEC’s safety leaders attended the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s (NRECA) Safety Leadership Summit in Fort Worth, Texas. President & CEO John C. Lee, Jr., Safety Coordinator Ron Campbell, and Lineman/Serviceman Paul Underwood joined more than 500 other electric cooperative decision-makers looking for tools, strategies, and best practices to enhance their cooperatives’ safety performance and strengthen their culture of safety.

The Summit is the leading safety event for electric cooperative CEOs, senior staff, safety professionals, crew leaders, and line workers. During the information-packed program, safety leaders from all disciplines joined together to share ​cutting-edge techniques designed to reduce injuries and eliminate accidents. To reach top safety performance, safety professionals recognize that they can no longer accept the misconception that accidents are simply a part of the job; today’s employees must strive and understand that all accidents are preventable.

MEC’s Lee was asked to serve on a panel discussion during the session entitled, “Leading with Safety—A CEO’s Perspective.” He says, “Safety has to be your first priority, and the panel discussion helped us all gain insights from top industry safety practitioners on a wide variety of topics.” He continued by sharing a personal experience, “I’ve had the occasion to tell an employee, ‘I’d rather fire you than bury you.’ That sends the message that no matter how good you are at what you do, or how hard you work, if you don’t follow the safety rules, you’ve got to go.” Lee has been instrumental in leading MEC to challenge the thought that accidents are all in a day’s work. Training like that of the Safety Summit has driven MEC employees on a continued path to optimize every opportunity to develop exceptional safe work practices, and their outstanding safety numbers are a testament to those efforts.

Underwood, both a lineman and MEC’s employee-led safety committee chairman, comments about attending the Summit, “I heard many inspiring stories at this conference about the importance of leadership in making sure crew members are working safely and, even more, how important it is to stand accountable for my co-workers’ well-being.”

An organization’s safety leaders have a great responsibility to provide the latest information on the most pressing safety issues. Campbell mentions, “Our industry has safe work practices and life-saving rules that MUST be adhered to. As safety coordinator, it’s my job to make sure all employees are aware of these rules and guidelines; secondly, that they understand their underlying purpose, and finally that they follow them.” He added, “We attend conferences such as this to learn new approaches for improving and refining our safety performance at all levels in the organization from the CEO to the front-line crews. At MEC, our team recognizes safety is a core value; furthermore, it’s a value that ensures everyone goes home. When expressed in those terms, hard-earned values are never a burden.”

Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative is the not-for-profit energy provider to over 31,000 meters located in portions of the Virginia counties of Brunswick, Charlotte, Greensville, Halifax, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Pittsylvania, Southampton, and Sussex counties and the North Carolina counties of Granville, Person, Northampton, Vance, and Warren. It is a Touchstone Energy Cooperative, headquartered in Chase City with district offices in Gretna, Emporia, and Chase City.