Imagine driving in your car and not hooking your seat belt. Try to picture sailing without a life jacket. Or cooking food on your stove without a hot pad. Just as these daily routines involve the automatic ritual of performing various safety functions first, so do our line crew, office workers and anyone employed at Hancock-Wood prepare for a job by putting safety first.
Safety is a mindset and something that we cannot do without. With no shortage of dangerous job functions and duties in an industry like ours, HWE has to take action when it comes to safety. Fortunately, Hancock-Wood has a thorough program designed to promote the safety of employees and reduce lost accident time.
- Safety committee - Our company Safety Committee meets monthly to investigate and recommend solutions for safety concerns and issues, perform safety inspections and assist in a variety of other ways. This proactive group of employees help to serve as communication conduit to management. The advantage of these meetings is that there is discussion about safety deficiencies and strengths, and there is open dialogue between the employees about issues and how to eliminate or minimize safety exposures inherent in future work.
- Employee safety training - This includes periodic First Aid, CPR, pole top and bucket rescue and many other classes held at the Hancock-Wood offices through professional groups.
- Safety accreditation - We regularly participates in the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association's (NRECA) safety accreditation program. During this intensive certification process, all areas of the company are closely scrutinized. Meeting their qualifications help to protect employees, consumers and their property, as well as the general public. In fact, a nice byproduct of this process puts HWE in an accredited program that affords us a better insurance rate than we could have achieved otherwise.
- Inspections - Our Safety Committee regularly inspects the HWE building facilities, vehicles, substations and crews. Doing so ensures that we meet the national, state and local safety codes and that all employees follow safe OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) work practices.
- Member education - Our Country Living, Power Lines and Press Releases, as well as our website and various brochures, all highlight the importance of electric safety.
- Meter tampering - This drives up costs and is punishable under the law, but even more crucial, attempts to alter an electric meter can result in shock, fire, explosion, or electrocution. Most people would never think of tampering with their meter or stealing power. However, some electric utility consumers occasionally connect their electric service without authorization, or try to bypass their meter. This type of tampering drives up electrical costs and is punishable under the law.
The law defines theft of utility service as a first-degree misdemeanor if the value of the stolen electricity, plus any utility equipment repair, is under $150. It’s a fourth-degree felony if the value is more than $150.
Tampering crimes carry similar penalties. It is defined as “to interfere with, damage, or bypass a utility meter, conduit, or attachment with intent to impede the correct registration of a meter of the proper function of a conduit or attachment.”
If you are convicted of tampering it can mean six months in jail and a $1,000 fine up to five years in jail and a $2,500 fine. Perhaps worse than the punishment is the risk of injury. Attempts to alter an electric meter can result in shock, fire, explosion, or electrocution. Even if the thief doesn’t get hurt, the tampered meter is usually left in such condition as to be a potential danger to others.
Meter tampering costs all of us and it’s dangerous. If you witness someone tampering with an electric meter, please contact us.