Our safety meetings must mean something

As I review safety data, as well as programs on the various properties we have under contract, I ask, “What can be done to improve the safety of our members?” I continue to find myself going back to the basics.

Many of our employers are captivated by consultant recommendations that will generally include a new program. It is typically considered the latest and greatest. Some may say it is the “flavor of the day.” 

My opinion about “going back to the basics” was further supported by two consultants from the Sommerville Group. Their theory is that, “Intrinsic motivation is the answer.” It hits the nail on the head.

How do you develop intrinsic motivation among our Brothers and Sisters? One basic approach is to have meaningful safety meetings that are designed to motivate our members. We should have meaningful discussions regarding workplace hazards and agree on corrective actions for healthy results.


To ensure that safety meetings run smoothly and effectively, the involvement of all of our members is critical. With this simplistic thought in mind, we know the reality is that there are obstacles such as:

  • Member/employee distrust.
  • Atmosphere of fear.
  • Lack of leadership.
  • Employer implementation of too many new programs in anticipation of quick results.
  • Poor training.
  • Emphasis on budget or production.
  • Aging workforce.
  • Minimal staffing levels.

We will achieve our goals only by encouraging member involvement. We as union members must find ways to keep our members actively engaged in safety. Take the frustrations listed above out of the equation.

As a local union, we are failing. We must do a better job of recognizing the ambassadors of safety in the workplace. As a union, we sometimes fail to let our members know that their efforts are recognized and appreciated. Although Local 1439 has a history of developing leaders in our organization, we fail to develop leaders in safety.

We will be looking for assistance in this challenge to do a better job of improving safety for our members. We also must keep in mind that although our employers request our assistance, in most cases we do not have the ability to influence their programs.

One of the principals of the IBEW Code of Excellence is safety. If you would like to become part of this initiative, contact me at the union office.

 Safety News - Joint Safety Board

Mission Statement

"To build a positive safety standard that our peers can trust and believe in. One where we collectively demonstrate professionalism, responsibility, and accountability for our own and each other’s safety behavior in an effort to eliminate accidents."

We are working toward a more solid safety program in cooperation with the Joint Safety Board and our Safety Representatives in the field. It is important to provide a safe work place. We will be having more safety meetings at the union hall - stay tuned!Safety - always!


Have a question or need to discuss a safety issue? Please do not hesitate to contact one of the Joint Safety Board members (listed below), contact the Local Union office, or download and submit the Safety Suggestion form (PDF or Excel)

Allen Wagner - (314)960-7507
Bob Ritter - (314)852-3909
Rodney Bozeman - (314)704-9942

Ameren Safety Page


  • To all members who may come in close proximity of 100 amp overhead porcelain switches, THEY ARE A SERIOUS HAZARD. They are continually failing and may, and have, caused very serious injury, if not a fatality.
  • Please download and read the following information regarding Fluke Meter Recall

Accident reports:
(provided by the National Sisterhood United for Journeyman Lineman)

  • Local 1393: Journeyman lineman pinned between to trucks, injury to knee.
  • Local 126: Journeyman lineman UTV roll over, multiple fractures to lower body.
  • Local 222: Three journeyman lineman passed away when they were struck by a car.
  • Local 47: One journeymen linemen were burned in a vault accident both received burns to upper body and one has passed away from pneumonia, a complication from the burns.

By Douglas Mueller, Business Manager

Compromised FR garments need to be discarded

DougAs a member of IBEW Local 1439 on the property of Entergy in Arkansas, Ameren Missouri and Alliant in Iowa, the prerequisite to wear flame retardant clothing is no longer an option. In fact, it is mandatory and considered PPE by OSHA. 

Negotiations have taken place with all of the aforementioned companies with regard to yearly and new-hire FR clothing allotments. In addition, guidelines, agreements and policies have been set out as to appropriate wear, maintenance, repair and overall condition of such garments. 

The issue of when a FR garment is not suitable for wear has become a topic of discussion at numerous operating centers throughout the three states. Management and members are equally questioning the appearance and/or condition of the outer-most layers of clothing if visible tears, rips and holes are present. 

The motivation for this concern is valid, with merit, and raises a serious safety concern. In the event an electrical flash would transpire, documentation has confirmed the heat source will not penetrate FR clothing. However, where the garment is compromised, that same documentation illustrates serious injury from burns will ensue. 

Regardless of experience level, years of service and knowledge, unforeseen errors and mishaps have and will continue to occur. Armed with that knowledge and conscious of the ability to properly protect oneself from serious injury, it is perplexing that any other path would be taken.

That path of uncertainty, potential injury, pain and remorse is not the desired trail and one which is within our ability to alter. If your clothing appears questionable, discard that garment. If a co-worker’s is doubtful, take the initiative and share your concern. It must be noted, if management sees a garment as problematic, they are obligated to ensure the safety of those they manage and will insist satisfactory clothing is worn. 

FR clothing should be regarded in the same manner as all PPE and utilized in the identical fashion. If questioned about clothing condition, equate that concern to a co-worker addressing adequate cover-up are the nearing of energized primary. We were all trained to appreciate those who demonstrate a concern toward our personal safety, and this instance should be viewed no differently.