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The Electric Current Blog

Electrical Safety Month: Raising awareness about protecting electrical workers

 

electrician at electrical box with helmet and safety goggles on.

Every May, Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFi) sponsors National Electrical Safety Month. It’s a time to give workers a voice and highlight innovative ways we can make workplaces safer.

At Electrical Alliance, we advocate for making working conditions as safe as possible by organizing as a union and prioritizing workers’ rights. Our goal is to use the power of organizing to make safer working conditions the standard for all contractors.

Work fatalities disproportionally affect Latino and non-union workers

Sadly, one major safety issue is the fact that worker fatalities disproportionally affect Latino workers and non-union workers. In April, St. Camillus Church in Silver Spring, Maryland held the second annual Building Trades’ Workers Memorial Day Mass. At this event, attendees remembered the 19 construction workers who died at worksites in Washington, Maryland, and Virginia this past year. One of the church’s priests noted that 13 of the 19 men who died were Latinos, and all 19 who died at job sites were non-union workers.

Seminars to raise awareness about work hazards

To help raise awareness about hazards facing electrical workers as a whole, we and our partners are involved in several important initiatives for National Electrical Safety Month. There have been a variety of seminars to educate the industry and the greater public about changes we can make to improve working conditions.

To kick off Electrical Safety Month, the Washington DC NECA Chapter and IBEW Local 26 put on a seminar that focused on common hazards affecting the electrical construction industry.

For example, Rich Gojdics, Senior VP of Sales at Enerpro PPE, provided an overview of how everyday clothing when facing electrical hazards can significantly increase the severity of the burns. He discussed how, even though the electrical industry is moving towards doing more electrical work in a de-energized state, there are still some activities that place qualified electrical workers in harm’s way. Arc rated clothing that meets design standards still plays a significant role in reducing the severity of electrical injuries when faced by workers.

Electrical hazards continue to be a large concern, but there are also other emerging hazards that need to be tackled. Washington, DC NECA contractor and safety committee memberships have joined efforts to address mental health issues and suicide, which are on the rise in construction.

To help raise awareness of these issues, Lynn Berger from BHS  ran a session on the mental health risks experienced by workers. She focussed on three main themes: how to recognize risky behaviors, how to establish successful interventions and, most importantly, where to get help for those in need.

Workers’ safety impacts everyone

There is so much that must be done to improve worksite safety. Across the board, an important takeaway is the role unions play in ensuring these improvements are put in place. Unions make it possible to amplify workers’ voices and, when their voices are amplified, real change takes root.

That’s why, at Electrical Alliance, we help provide the safest workplaces for each and every one of our members. Ultimately, when workers are safe, supported, and empowered, the effects ripple out to their families and communities at large.

We’re stronger together, so we must do what’s necessary to ensure safety across the board.

How the Prince William Digital Gateway will provide hundreds of jobs in the electrical field

signal tower

At Electrical Alliance, we’re dedicated to supporting efforts that improve equality and create fruitful job opportunities for citizens, particularly jobs in the electrical field.

That’s why we’re proud to support the Prince William Digital Gateway. We want to bring awareness to the project and amplify the words of our very own Kyle McMillian, our Local 26 Organizer and active voice of the Prince William Digital Gateway initiative. 

By shining a light on McMillian’s personal story and the work he does, we hope to raise awareness of the possibilities the Digital Gateway could provide to Prince William County (PWC) residents. 

 

What is the Prince William Digital Gateway?

The Prince William Digital Gateway is a request dedicated to improving job opportunities, schools, parks, and quality of life for thousands of PWC residents. 

The Gateway’s goal is to comprehensively change the planning approval process in the PWC area so it’s possible for data centers to apply for planning approval. Currently, only large trucking facilities and residential developments can apply for planning approval. This results in an unequal playing field for PWC residents and a lack of viable wage and union construction jobs. 

Opening up the planning approval process will lead to game-changing commercial tax gains, job opportunities, and more. Together, these efforts will provide a substantial economic boost to the entire county and its citizens.

 

Kyle McMillian: A case study on how the Prince William Digital Gateway could lead to fruitful life-long careers

Kyle McMillian is a 20-year union member with IBEW Local 26. He lives in the Occoquan district and is proud to call Prince William County home. He is also a proud supporter of the PW Digital Gateway because he believes it will grant more citizens with union opportunities like the one that supports him. 

McMillian used to work at Giant grocery store but, when he learned about the wages and benefits of being a union member electrician, he jumped at the opportunity. Over the past two decades, he has been able to comfortably sustain his family with his career. 

“I wish I had known about union work right after high school,” McMillian said. “I tried college but I didn’t find the stability I wanted. Once I found this profession and the union, that’s when I could start building a career that gives me the great stability I need.”

McMillian wants to create a similar stable future for more people in PWC. Part of his rewarding work now includes recruiting other electricians into the profession and he wants to maximize the number of workers he can help through the PW Digital Gateway. 

“I can promise you this: When this project gets approved, I will recruit PWC residents myself who want to get a job in the electrical trade making over $100,000 a year,” he said. “This is an important project that will provide thousands of jobs for our neighbors.”

 

Vote yes for the Prince William Digital Gateway and the benefits it offers to the communities. 

The Prince William Digital Gateway will lead to better jobs, better schools, better parks, and a better quality of life for PWC residents. By signing this petition, you will let the Board of County Supervisors and Planning Commission know that you support the PW Digital Gateway and the opportunity it brings to all.

The Reach at The Kennedy Center

Electrical Alliance Honored With Every WBC Craftsman Award

Electrical Alliance contractors, powered by their well-trained, skilled, union workforce, provide the highest level of quality for the jobs they service and supply workers for. Their workforce’s attention to safety, elevates them above the rest. Thus, it is no wonder that year-over-year Electrical Alliance electricians continue to sweep The Washington Building Congress (WBC) awards.

So, What about the Smart Grid?

It seems like all new electrical projects somehow have something to do with a smart grid at one time or another. What is a smart grid? The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) describes the smart grid as “an intelligent electricity grid—one that uses digital communications technology, information systems, and automation to detect and react to local changes in usage, improve system operating efficiency, and, in turn, reduce operating costs while maintaining high system reliability.”

Beyond The Code – National Electrical Installation Standards

At this year’s Code Seminar sponsored by the Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (JATC) of the Electrical Alliance, 160 participants — including Electrical Alliance contractors’ representatives and electricians — received important updates and training on the National Electrical Codes (NEC)®. The Code Seminar, held on March 23, focused on the 2017 NEC® Significant Changes and provided updates relevant to Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace (NFPA 70E) and fire alarm code.

2019 Industry Advancements – Staying Ahead of the Curve

As technology rapidly changes, electrical contractors must stay up-to-date on industry advancements— their jobs depend on it. Advancements in tools, lighting, machinery, accessories and more, frequently allow for electrical jobs to be completed faster, more efficiently and often times even more cost effectively. In addition, many of these advancements help trades workers to be safer on the job.