Lt. Gov. Hampton Visits Big Rivers to Celebrate Safety Record

Beth Smith, 

5:23 p.m. CDT August 31, 2016

Big Rivers Electric Corporation caught the attention of one of the Kentucky’s top government officials.

Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton toured the Sebree Station, located in the Robards area, and visited with staff Wednesday afternoon to congratulate employees on a safety milestone.

“We are right at 2.5 million hours worth of safety hours,” Jim Ed Burris, the plant’s safety manager, told The Gleaner. “The whole group is responsible for their own safety, and they are also their brothers’ keepers,” he said.

“It’s about employee participation. We tell them if you lose focus, you can get hurt. We work around hazards all the time, so you have to stay focused.”

Following a stop at Riverview Coal Mine in Union County, Hampton addressed employees at the Robards area station.

“I ran a box plant,” she said. “I spent almost 20 years in the box industry.”

“When I wasn’t running a plant, I was blessed enough to be working in really great plants, one of which was Weyerhaeuser, now International Paper, in Bowling Green. Safety is so huge,” Hampton said.

“My hat is off to you because 2.5 million hours is phenomenal,” she said. “That’s really fantastic, and I know what it takes to get everyone to work not only efficiently and effectively, but safely as well.”

“The intent is to return you at the end of your day, at the end of your shift, to your families with all of your fingers and toes and just as well as you showed up to work. I really do commend you and know that I’m really proud of you. I love manufacturing. It really interests me, and I’m glad to be out here. It’s an honor to come visit with you personally. What a milestone.”

While Hampton spent some time underground at Riverview Coal to learn about that end of the business and then above ground at Big Rivers to watch the process of coal becoming electricity, her focus for Henderson area employees was on their safety records, said Jennifer Keach, communications director for Big Rivers.

“She wanted to see the process of what happens when the coal leaves the mine and comes here to be used to make electricity, but mainly, and our focus today, is our safety culture,” Keach said. “She comes from an industrial background. She’s familiar with plant work, and she appreciates how hard it is for these guys to work and work safe.”

“Safety is what we are most proud of,” Keach said. “The company has won 41 Governor’s Safety awards, and that’s more than any other industry in the state. It’s something we are very proud of.”

“Our slogan,” Burris said, “is ‘Safety begins between the ears.’ So if you take six seconds before you start any task you can think through the hazard and it may keep you safe, because we are all here for the same reason – our families.”

“It’s exciting. The group and the company is excited to be recognized by the lieutenant governor,” Burris said.

As he introduced Hampton to the group, CEO Bob Berry said, “Kentucky is very lucky and very fortunate to have a lieutenant governor who truly understands. She’s run plants. She understands how important safety is in the organization and she truly understands how fragile safety can be.”

Big Rivers, a member-owned, not-for-profit generation and transmission cooperative which boasts more than 100,000 customers and serves 22 counties across Western Kentucky, can thank one group for its string of safety awards – the employees, Berry said.

Big Rivers employees said it was an honor to receive recognition from Hampton.

“It means a lot,” said Chase Payne.

“It’s great,” said Josh Woods. “It’s also great to work for a company with this type of safety background.”

View the full story from the Gleaner here:

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