Shelby Energy ‘improving safety practices’

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By Scotty McDaniel

Audit results are in, and it appears electricity and gas provider Shelby Energy Cooperative is making strides in improving work safety. The co-op underwent a state audit in 2008 after Cosby Carroll, an employee of Dobson Power, a former contractor of Shelby Energy, fell to his death from an bucket truck on Nov. 12, 2007.    Carroll, who was installing new distribution lines for Shelby Energy in Bagdad, was not wearing the required safety harness. Soon after the accident, the Kentucky Public Service Commission cited the cooperative with $15,000 in fines for six safety violations, ranging from failure of personnel to wear proper safety gear to inadequate vertical clearance of electrical wires.  Around that time the independent management audit was ordered by the PSC and conducted by Auriga Corp. of Milpitas, Calif. The audit was to look at the operations of the company with a special regard to its safety practices.  When the final audit report was released last week it stated that the co-op had made “significant progress since mid 2008 in improving safety practices for its employees and contractors.” Shelby Energy CEO Debbie Martin said one such improvement was the company’s hiring in June 2008 of Jason Ginn as the full-time safety coordinator who keeps workers up to date on the latest safety techniques and procedures by hosting weekly meetings. “We have started weekly safety meetings, instead of just monthly,” she said. “We do no less than monthly crew inspections. We do more safety training here, developed more policies, and it’s a work that’s in progress.”  The report did say there was room for more safety improvement, but Martin said most of the report’s recommendations were regarding procedural issues, “such as providing more detailed written instruction for business processes and changing formats of budgeting reports.” That audit indicates the Shelby Energy is working to improve its safety.  “That [procedural issues] was the biggest focus on it because we had done so much on the safety size,” she said. “We’re pleased that the audit recognized the progress that we’ve made. Shelby Energy stresses safety every day.     “It is a top priority for us and our contractors. Our goal is to ensure that everyone does their work in the safest manner possible.”

Shelby Energy serves Shelby and surrounding counties. It is based in Shelbyville and has been in operation since 1937.