Co-Mo earns accreditation that focuses on employee, member safety

Co-Mo earns accreditation that focuses on employee, member safety

Co-Mo Electric Cooperative recently passed an accreditation that puts an emphasis on keeping its employees and members safe.

In September the cooperative welcomed observers from the Rural Electric Safety Accreditation Program, who examined all aspects of Co-Mo's safety program and facilities.

The program began in 1967 and is operated by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Co-Mo is one of 530 cooperatives nationwide, including 34 in Missouri, to earn its accreditation.

The requirements go beyond those Co-Mo operates under through the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

"Our people are our most important asset," said Ken Johnson, CEO and general manager for the cooperative. "We want to maintain and reinforce safe work practices so our employees can go home to their families each evening and are able to lead full, happy, enjoyable lives. At the same time, we want to make sure we keep our members safe in the often dangerous business we do each day."

The trained observers came from other nearby cooperatives and their statewide organization, the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. They examined everything from the cooperative's overall safety program to the condition of its trucks and facilities. They also looked at the cooperative's record of lost-time incidents and quizzed random staff members on things such as the nearest fire extinguisher or first-aid kit and the common meeting place in the event of a fire.

The cooperative has not had a lost-time incident in nearly a year.

Co-Mo's Safety and Loss Prevention Coordinator Jimmy Jester is in charge of the cooperative's safety program and led the preparation effort for the inspection.

"It's not an easy task," he said. "It takes a total team effort, but it provides a total team reward."

In addition to providing a safety checkup for the cooperative, the accreditation also means Co-Mo will pay 4.5 percent less on its liability insurance.

"That's a significant savings. The less we have to spend on things, the longer we are able to hold off future rate increases," Johnson said.

Jester said the accreditation is worthwhile for employees and Co-Mo members.

"It does take time to do this program, no doubt about it," Jester said. "But it gives you a chance to evaluate yourself and have others evaluate you. That way, you get an honest look at the areas you need to improve."

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