Electric cooperatives will come together to share ideas on how best to reduce the risk of on-the-job injuries at NRECA's Safety Leadership Summit, set for Aug. 17-19 in Austin, Texas.

“So much in safety is about influencing behaviors, and that's what makes it so challenging," said Bud Branham, NRECA's director of safety. “We are always looking for ways to help improve safety culture and reduce risks in the workplace."

Held regularly since 2013, the Safety Leadership Summit is co-sponsored by Federated Rural Electric Insurance Exchange. Hundreds of co-op CEOs and operations managers, safety directors and supervisors have attended the conferences, and co-ops are encouraged to send crew leads or other employees with potential to be safety champions.

“While there are workshops and presentations, NRECA's Safety Leadership Summit is designed to be interactive with multiple opportunities for discussion and dialogue," said Perron Nicholas, NRECA's manager of educational programs. “Representatives of local co-ops and statewide associations will be delivering presentations and discussions on actions they've taken to address real-life operational challenges and overcome complacency."

This year's summit includes six preconference workshops focused on sustainable safety improvements, avoiding mistakes that can occur when proven steps are omitted, and enhancing safety advocacy among team members.

The summit also includes more than two dozen breakout sessions featuring co-op panelists and safety experts. These sessions will highlight trends in safety leadership, relationships with contractors and getting the most out of local safety efforts.

Mountain climbing adventurer Manley Feinberg and human performance consultant and author Tony Bridwell will deliver keynotes on leadership and organizational change.

Some content, including the three general sessions and two Safety Improvement Talks, will be offered in an online format for those unable to attend in-person.

Conference attendees will also get a preview of Phase II of the Commitment to Zero Contacts Initiative, launched in 2018 with the goal of eliminating electrical contacts.

“We're trying to refine the initial Commitment to Zero approach by working directly with operational department leaders in cooperatives and support their review of their current work procedures," said Branham. “A formal rollout of Phase II is set for later this year, and by that time we should have feedback from at least 30 co-op organizations that have participated in the pilot program for the revised initiative."

“The first phase of Commitment to Zero raised awareness and it helped improve our trends," said Corey Parr, vice president of safety and loss prevention at Federated. “In the second phase of Commitment to Zero we are working with statewide associations where possible, to help co-op operational leaders take a hard look in the mirror to see if gaps exist in their key work practices with the hopes of reducing the chance of electrical contacts."

This year's Safety Leadership Summit will also elevate issues of interest to co-ops involved in or considering broadband projects. One breakout session will focus on selecting and building relationships with broadband contractors.

“Federated encourages co-ops to make sure contracts are strongly worded with adequate hold harmless and indemnification language," said Parr. “They are working on behalf of cooperatives to do specific jobs, and there need to be measures that hold them accountable and set adequate coverage limits to protect co-op interests."

Learn more about Safety Leadership Summit and register for the event.