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DU safety record continues to rise: 447 days without work-related injuries

By Catherine Godbey
cgodbey@decaturdaily.com 340-2441

With each passing day, Decatur Utilities sets a record for the number of days without a work-related injury.

The safety signs outside DU's facilities serve as a visual reminder, tracking the number of injury-free days.

Currently working on day 447, the record continues to rise, bypassing the previous record that hovered around 365 days. The record represents an accomplishment, which began after the utility had six incidents resulting in injuries from October 2005 to June 2006.

Proactive stance

DU General Manager Stan Keenum credits the company's safety committee, management and the Municipal Utilities Board for the continual emphasis on safety.

"The company has taken a proactive stance toward safety," Keenum said, "and making the employees aware of safety by keeping it at the forefront."

Through a combination of company meetings, outside evaluations and employee incentives, DU continuously advertises its safety expectations.

Promoting safety occurs at every level, from quarterly meetings in which DU addresses specific issues affecting employees, to daily crew meetings where four-man teams evaluate a work site and discuss potential hazards such as traffic.

"We are always looking at it (safety) everyday and ways we can improve it," DU Human Resources Manager Christy Lamb said.

Consultants

Along with inside evaluations, DU brought in consultants from Safe State, a program associated with The University of Alabama and funded by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The consultants toured and evaluated the electric and wastewater treatment plants in April. Safe State recommended minor changes, such as adding handrails to a stairway, which DU installed within 30 days of receiving the recommendation.

"Bringing Safe State in provides a great visual inspection from an outside source looking at the plant with fresh eyes," Lamb said.

DU recognizes the importance of bringing in outside
consultants to improve the facilities, but Keenum cites DU's workers as the true source behind the company's safety record.

Through incentive programs, DU offers tangible rewards acknowledging employee safety. In addition to quarterly rewards of restaurant certificates and movie passes, DU employees received extra vacation time for working a year without an injury.

"We are very proud of our employees that we've gone this long without an incident. ... Going this long without an injury takes the frontline folks having the safety mindset," Keenum said.

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