Monday June 5th through Wednesday June 8th Business Representatives Mark Shaulis and Mike Keating attended the IBEW Safety Caucus in St Paul, Minnesota. The Safety Caucus is a nation wide gathering open to all IBEW Locals and their trade classifications including utility, construction, manufacturing, generating as well as many others. This years’ caucus was focused on Mental Health but had sessions on an array of subjects such as, work area protection, OSHA letters of interpretation, the purpose of OSHA 10 and 30 classes, suspension trauma, FR and ARC clothing. Speakers at the Caucus included newly appointed 6th District IVP Michael Clemmons (Pictured below). His speech was the keynote of the opening session and included some vitally important points for all IBEW members. His remarks began with the IBEWs’ place in the industry, “As members of the IBEW, we are not only the backbone of the industries we represent, but also the torchbearers of safety standards. Throughout history, our trade union has played a pivotal role in improving safety conditions, not only for our members but for all workers across the United States and Canada.”
Adding to the point of the Unions place as a leader in the world of electrical construction he spoke to the dangers of complacency and the historical role of the founders and safety leaders of the IBEW. “Safety is not just a buzzword or a set of regulations to be followed; it is a way of life. Every day, we step onto worksites with the goal of completing our tasks efficiently and effectively. However, it is crucial to remember that no task is more important than the well-being and safety of our fellow workers and ourselves. We owe it to ourselves, our families, and our communities to return home safe and sound at the end of the day. When we look back at the history of the IBEW, we can see a long-standing commitment to workplace safety. Our union has been at the forefront of advocating for safer work environments, fighting for the rights and protection of our members. It was our predecessors who recognized the need for change and dedicated themselves to making our workplaces safer. Let us take a moment to acknowledge those who came before us, those brave men and women who stood up against unsafe conditions and fought for safer working conditions. They faced conditions where there was no training and no safety standards.” He closed his address with the duties inherent to each and every IBEW member as they go to work every day. He stressed our responsibility to carry forward the responsibility to the industry, ourselves, and each other, “We must lead by example, demonstrating a commitment to safety in everything we do. Safety should be ingrained in our work culture, influencing our decisions and actions at every step. We must be vigilant and watch out for one another, offering a helping hand and speaking up when we see unsafe practices. Our collective effort is what will create lasting change.” He continued, “…safety is not just an individual responsibility; it is a collective effort.. I want to remind you that safety is not a hindrance to productivity; it is an essential component of it. When workers feel safe and protected, they can focus on their tasks with confidence and efficiency.” His closing lines ring clearly for us and serve as an important reminder, “Let us continue the proud tradition of the IBEW by championing workplace safety. Let us remember the sacrifices made by our predecessors and honor their legacy by being vigilant and proactive. Together, we can create safer worksites, protect lives, and ensure a brighter future for all electrical workers.” Also speaking and facilitating the Caucus was new IBEW Safety Director Mark MacNichol. As part of the final day of the caucus, breakout sessions were held for each of the trade classifications. Attending the utilities breakout, Local 15 was part of discussions about employee hiring and retention, ZOP issues nation-wide, MAD, RVAs, and the concerns around drilling and cutting fiberglass utility components. Other subjects discussed during the breakout were 34kV isolation, use of coverup on multi-circuit installations, and multi crew ZOP control on large jobs.