In building a strong safety culture, small details matter. It was the attention to those small safety details that impressed safety inspector Leonard Rondeau. The former lineman turned safety specialist from Salt River Project in Arizona is in Puerto Rico as part of the larger team overseeing the mutual aid power restoration effort. His principal task is making sure every crew on the island is working safely.

One of the biggest hazards in this restoration effort is the potential for back feed, which is caused by residential generators being improperly connected to homes. When a powerline is energized and a generator is feeding power back to the line, the results can be deadly for a lineworker. One thing that caught Rondeau’s eye were the precautions DTE Energy crews were taking to protect themselves.

That is just one example of a safety best practice Rondeau intends to share with the other crews on the island. Another is the signs crews put out to block traffic on the one-way roads to let locals know work is happening in their neighborhood.

“When we drove up to the site and I saw the “Men Working” signs, they were in Spanish. That was one of the biggest things because I haven’t seen that on the island,” said Rondeau.

For Charley Crosby, DTE Energy’s safety specialist on the island, knowing that DTE crews are setting a good example for others is great to hear, but the chance to learn more about the best safety practices other companies employ also is important.

“I think our safety culture has grown so much in the past few years that the only way to get better now is to start sharing with other companies, like Leonard’s, and really having talks about how we get better as a group of companies instead of trying to stay within ourselves,” Crosby said.

Rondeau acknowledges that while restoring power quickly in Puerto Rico is important, so is the opportunity to benchmark with the other companies on the island. Still, his philosophy toward safety is the same in Puerto Rico as it is in Arizona.

“Our bottom line is to make sure they go home safe, the same way they came in to work.”

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