“It’s one of those things where you can make a difference that goes beyond yourself and perhaps save a few lives.”
Part of Cecil’s job as an electrical engineer at EnCana is investigating any time an employee’s or contractor’s equipment or vehicle comes into contact with power lines on EnCana’s properties in Alberta.
In just the oil and gas industry, Alberta has seen four fatalities in the past four years in power line incidents. Cecil wanted to do something to help.
“I realized this is an issue that’s far larger than what I could influence myself as an individual,” he says. “On any given day, there are tens of thousands of people working in the oil and gas sector in Alberta and some of this activity involves working close to power lines.”
Cecil started talking about power line safety to anyone who would listen. He went to his superiors, he went to industry associations and he went to JUST. “When other people got on board, we started developing hazard awareness training for power lines, which we hope, within a year, will become a mandatory requirement for all the personnel working around power lines in the oil and gas sector.”
He says most people working around power lines, in any industry, have not had any electrical safety training. “The first thing I would love people to know is they have to understand and respect the hazard and how damaging it can be if you get in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Cecil says once you understand that, you’ll want to protect yourself by staying away from power lines as you do your job.
As for his job as a safety champion, Cecil is pleased every time he gets asked about power line safety. “Once you’re known, the word spreads and then you’re influencing hundreds of people and dozens of organizations just because you chose to speak up and take some action.”
What’s Your Plan?
Before you start any job, always ask yourself:
- What am I doing?
- How will I deal with any potential hazards?
- What skills do we have on site?
- What will I do if something goes wrong?
If excavating, always contact Alberta One-Call first at 1.800.242.3447. If your equipment will be operating within seven meters of any power line, you must contact your local utility provider.
And remember, if you feel the job site is unsafe, you don’t have to continue working. The law protects you if you refuse to perform unsafe work.