June 16, 2022

LWCC Grant Funding Recharges Safety Program

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Electrical work is highly dangerous. Workers are exposed to a variety of risks including falls, burns, overhead obstacles, and heat-related hazards, to name a few; but of the many safety risks, electrocution remains at the forefront. Exposure to electricity resulted in 166 worker fatalities nationally in 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). There was a notable 3.75 percent increase from 2018, marking the highest number of deaths in this category since 2015. The data shows that electrical safety cannot be emphasized enough. For Lafayette-based electric utility provider SLEMCO, the need for workplace safety is paramount. As the organization provides power to Acadiana, they recognize the dangerous nature of the work they do and are committed to keeping employee safety at the forefront.

“Our line workers are working around or with very high voltages every day,” says Nathan Melancon, SLEMCO Safety & Training Supervisor. “Our goal is to have everyone go home to their families every night, no matter their job duties or responsibilities, and by working safely we can accomplish that.”  

Working with both overhead and buried power lines poses a serious safety hazard, due to the high voltage they carry. To combat the threat of injury, SLEMCO prioritizes ongoing training, adherence to safety protocols, and ensures all linemen have the proper personal protective equipment (PPE). Provided PPE was elevated with the distribution of personal voltage detectors, purchased with funds awarded through LWCC’s Safety Grant Pilot Program in 2019.  

The personal voltage detector provides another level of safety for linemen, storm restoration workers, and disaster relief crews. The detectors are worn around the neck and alert the user to the proximity of electric fields or energized equipment via an alarm and light. Nathan shares that the ability to purchase these detectors has helped increase safety, especially for those employees doing troubleshooting at night or after storms.  

“We are greatly appreciative of LWCC providing the grant funding we needed to increase workplace safety,” shares Nathan. “At that time, we had dealt with two major hurricanes and a devastating ice storm. We had workers coming from out of state to assist and ensuring that not only our employees, but also those workers, were safe was critical. The personal voltage detectors provided peace of mind and helped us keep everyone safe despite the circumstances.”

LWCC’s dedication to our home state and mission to better Louisiana one business and one worker at a time continues with the announcement of the 2022 Safety Grant Program. With the distribution of one-time grant funding to improve safety measures, LWCC seeks to foster a culture of wellbeing in our state’s workforce.  

Applications for grant funding are now open and will remain open through July 22, 2022.

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