Chapter Corner

Safety Comes First

Posted in: President's Message, April 2016

Hovanec web.jpgEvery day, people spend time thinking about maintaining the safety of their family and friends. As business owners, it is just as important that we do everything in our power to ensure that our employees return home to their families as healthy as they arrive to work each and every day.  

We all know how dangerous working with electricity is; however, on the job safety for electrical contractors and our employees goes far beyond just working with electricity. 

In addition to the obvious hazard of working with electricity, there are also many other risks for injury within the electrical industry. Sometimes, I read various regulatory requirement relating to job site safety and ask myself, “Is this really necessary?” However, there is a reason for each and every one. We do not always have to agree with them, but we do have to comply with them. 

One of those risks that I take very seriously is that of falling. In my first Insights President’s Message column, I discussed how my cousin, who was an electrician, influenced my decision to enter the electrical industry. What was not included in that article is that my cousin fell from a cat walk at a General Motors plant in New Jersey, where he worked as a journeyman electrician, and died on Labor Day of 2002. One of the plant’s assembly lines went down and he got it working again when no one else could. For his efforts, he was offered an opportunity to come into work on Labor Day, even though the plant would be closed. Never one to sit around, he decided to troubleshoot some lighting along a cat walk. No one really knows how he fell, but what is known is that he was not using fall protection when he fell. If he had, he would not have died that day. He was just 6 months from retiring and was planning to travel the country in his motor home with his wife of almost 40 years. It is with my cousin’s death always in mind that I will never allow anyone that works for me to work on a ladder without someone else there with them and using the appropriate fall protection.  

There are many other risks for injury I could write about, each and every one of them as dangerous as the next. But what is more important is to recognize what they are. The following are just some of the risks that face electrical workers each and every day: 

  • Electric shock
  • Sprained or broken ankles and wrists
  • Eye injuries
  • Hearing loss
  • Asbestos and lead poisoning
  • Head injuries
  • Burns from arc flashes
  • Injuries from the operation of power tools or heavier equipment
  • Injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents

All of these are preventable with the proper training and use of proper protective gear.

There are many safety resources available to IEC members, from the IEC National webinar series to education sessions offered at IEC Con to offerings by local IEC chapters as well as many of our IEC Industry Partners offering a wide range of safety materials and training. All of these safety resources are aimed at meeting the required safety requirements to ensure IEC members have the tools they need to provide their job sites and employees a safe workplace environment.

In December 2015, IEC renewed an alliance with OSHA. Since its inception, the alliance has created opportunities for OSHA and IEC to work together to help reduce the number of workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities.

Every year, IEC companies tout their own job site safety records and programs by competing for a chance to be awarded the IEC-CNA Safety Award at our National Convention. Perhaps this year you too will enter your company for a chance to win the coveted IEC-CNA Safety Award and show your commitment to a safe workplace. 

Joseph Hovanec Jr. is IEC’s 2016 National President. As the principal elected officer of the association, Hovanec serves as the National Chair to the Board of Directors, House of Delegates, and Executive Committee. Hovanec is the president of Advanced Electric Design & Service in Rahway, New Jersey. With a career that spans over 35 years in the electrical industry, Hovanec is extremely knowledgeable on where we have been and the direction we need to go.