Proper Locating Demands an Emphasis on Safety

Mapping underground utilities is serious business. That's why Sweetwater Utility Exploration takes training to a whole different level.
Proper Locating Demands an Emphasis on Safety
A combination of behavioral-based safety training and thorough job safety analysis allow Sweetwater Utility Exploration to minimize risks for its crews and clients.

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With more than half of its clients being in the petroleum industry, Sweetwater Utility Exploration has a big focus on safety, but they take a different approach to it.

“We teach our people to want to be safe,” says Matt Bellmann, co-owner of the company based in Troutman, North Carolina. “It’s called behavioral-based safety training and I learned it from going to training seminars with BP. The idea behind it is you show them why being safe is going to help them.”

Bellmann says he tries to explain to his crew why being safe matters — being able to go home to spouse and kids, for example.

“You teach the guys that being safe has to become their lifestyle,” Bellmann says.

But that isn’t the only thing the company does to encourage safety. It has also used job safety analysis (JSA) to enforce safety also. “We’ve broken down the jobs to the most elementary process possible,” Bellmann says. “Each step that goes into locating, we’ve broken that down.”

The first column of the JSA states the specific steps of each task on the job, the second column shows what risks are associated with that task, and the third column tells how employees can minimize those risks.

“A lot of what we do is pretty dangerous, dealing with live utilities and using compressed air,” Bellmann says. “We just break it down as much as we can. It gets driven home and the guys realize safety is important.”

To read more about Sweetwater Utility Exploration, check out the profile in the June 2016 issue of Cleaner.


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