New River Electrical’s Commitment to Safety Produces Inventive Solution

Here at New River Electrical, we realize the importance of safety. We can’t deny that we work in an industry where a seemingly simple mistake can be extremely dangerous to the life and health of our employees.

We’ve worked hard to instill a safety culture in our company, increasing training requirements, and developing safety-minded messaging from our project managers down to our crews.

But when one of our foremen thought of an inventive solution for training our young foremen, we knew our ideas were taking root.

A Commitment to Safety from our Foremen to Leadership

Kash Jewel, one of our foremen working in the Underground Division, created a tool to help train less-experienced foremen on switching underground circuits. This tool, called “The Green Machine,” is being used by our Underground Distribution group to prepare foremen for this work, which if done without precise accuracy and communication, can be dangerous.

“When [Kash] brought in the prototype and started using it with our guys, we recognized the value to be able to test these guys before we put them in harm’s way,” said Brian Allmeras, VP Underground Westerville.

Previously, foremen trained entirely on the job. They would shadow more experienced foremen on job sites, watching and learning as they went. When it came time for a foreman to be promoted through the system, an experienced foreman vouched for his practice, knowledge, and ability to safely and effectively complete the work. While this system worked for years, none of this training was directly measurable or was able to be tested in a controlled environment.

The Green Machine gives New River training personnel the ability to simulate dozens of different scenarios in a controlled environment, offering a repeatable and safe way for foremen to know how to diagnose and deal with certain issues that may occur only once a decade.

The “Green Machine” allows foremen to train in a safe environment before performing work out in the field.

“The amount of people right now who are currently retiring in this industry is at a staggering rate,” said Jewel, so there are fewer people with decades of experience under their belt to train younger foremen about unique scenarios that might come up. “They’re not here to tell us, ‘This happened 15 years ago and this is how you handle that’,” Jewel explained.

As a general foreman and trainer, Bill “Red” Husk is happy that he can observe foremen learning in a low-pressure environment. “If they mess up out there, there’s going to be an explosion, or someone could get hurt, or have equipment damage,” he said, “but here, it’s all on the board.”

A Job Well Done

While we are grateful that our workers will be safer in the field with the use of this training tool, we are even more pleased that “The Green Machine” is a product of our foremen adopting safety culture, themselves.

“Safety culture is not possible without the commitment from the folks in the field. Our management team can stress safety, we can promote safety, but our folks in the field have to commit to it,” said Ike Poe, Sr. VP Operations – Westerville.

“We’re so pleased that someone from our team has taken it upon himself to develop a tool that will help keep our workers safe,” said Ike. “Job very well done for taking the initiative to bring our safety culture to the next level.”