Lineworkers, supervisors and warehouse personnel from electric co-ops across Illinois gathered in Springfield to attend the annual Safety and Energy Conference Jan. 31-Feb. 1, hosted by the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives (AIEC).

The conference focused on safety and leadership in the energy industry. Attendees learned about mental health and dealing with trauma, explored the use of drones for infrastructure inspection, learned about strategies for success in a multigenerational workplace, and received relevant training to keep them informed and safe while on the job.

During the conference, safety leadership awards were presented to recognize individual and cooperative-wide commitment to safe work culture. The AIEC Individual Leadership Award recognizes safety awareness and rewards individuals who demonstrate safety leadership, promote safety culture and contribute to the safety of a project. Recipients must demonstrate safety leadership above and beyond the normal safety performance expectations.

The 2023 Individual Safety Leadership Awards were presented to Travis Boylen, line foreman at Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative; Daren Deverman, manager of safety and forestry at Corn Belt Energy Corporation; and Scott Mason, health and safety manager at Prairie Power Inc. (PPI). Individuals were nominated by their peers. Each nomination provided specific details explaining why the person deserved the award.

“Travis is open-minded and listens to his crew for ideas to make sure the work is completed safely and efficiently,” his nomination letter stated. “He understands the importance of family … therefore, he always enforces safety because he wants his co-workers to return home safe each night and enjoy their families. Being a leader/teacher who takes pride in his work, demonstrates a safe work ethic and leads by example is what makes Travis a great safety leader.”

The nomination letter for Deverman expressed, “Daren has shown that he lives the safety culture. … He recently administered CPR to an individual who had passed out in a grocery store. … Daren took over [the situation] and provided CPR until paramedics arrived. He provides real-world examples of why safety is so important. … We have people at home who count on us and that has to be our reason for doing the right thing, even when nobody is watching.”

“Scott is a no-nonsense, lead-by-example type of person,” his nomination letter said. “He is a leader both in title and in work ethic. He is instrumental in PPI’s safety culture and safety leadership. He recognizes the value and importance of safety, ultimately in that everyone gets to go home. … He consistently ensures all safety incidents are documented, investigated, and corrective actions implemented are effective. Scott conducts field safety audits and gathers information from the crews regarding how to improve safety.”

In addition to the individual safety awards, electric cooperatives were also acknowledged during the conference for their commitment to safety. The AIEC Cooperative Safety Leadership Award recognizes safety awareness and rewards cooperatives that demonstrate safety leadership, promote safety culture, and go above and beyond normal safety expectations. These were awarded based on OSHA documentation.

Clinton County Electric Cooperative, JCE Co-op and Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative received 2023 awards for Best Loss Time Rate. Egyptian Electric Cooperative, Illinois Electric Cooperative, Monroe County Electric Cooperative, Prairie Power Inc., Shelby Electric Cooperative and Tri-County Electric Cooperative earned both the 2023 Best Lost Time Rate and Best Incident Rate awards.