August 8, 2020

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Slater Recognized by National Safety Council

National Safety Council

Austin J. Slater, president and CEO of Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, has been recognized by the National Safety Council as a CEO Who “Gets It” for 2017. The NSC finds safety leaders each year and recognizes their actions because they demonstrate a personal commitment of first creating and then sustaining a culture of health and safety in the workplace.

Deborah A.P. Hersman, NSC’s president and CEO, said such an attitude deserves to be honored because “a culture of safety and well-being is one that takes time, dedication, a thoughtful approach, and a CEO who ‘gets it.’ These leaders not only understand how to run a great business, but also know deep down that safety is paramount for their employees, their clients, and their families.”

Mr. Slater was noted for several accomplishments by the NSC in the February 2017 issue of Safety+Health magazine. For instance, he:

  • Presents at and attends employee safety meetings.
  • Has personally wear-tested an approved flame-resistant company uniform while he performed maintenance at his home to check the comfort of the garment.
  • Opened a gym on campus, which allows employees to exercise at no cost and at convenient times.
  • Opened a family health center on campus that allows retirees, employees, and family members access to urgent and routine medical care.
  • Implemented a smoke-free policy for company vehicles and worksites.

For Mr. Slater, his commitment to safety came from a personal experience.

“Following an unusual October snow storm in 1979, shortly after I began working at SMECO, our organization suffered the tragic loss of two linemen to electrocution during power restoration efforts. That loss was preventable. Shortcuts, such as failure to wear personal protective equipment and not following established work practices, cost two men their lives. That experience forged a ‘never again’ promise and mindset. And we have made good on that pledge,” he said.

To ensure safety and comfort, SMECO invests in tools that are ergonomically engineered to help in utility construction and in industry-leading personal protective equipment. SMECO has constructed a new technical training facility and developed an analytics-based safety platform to help track safety incident data, spot trends, communicate events, and take proactive measures to reduce accidents and maintain the health and well-being of employees.

“Safety cannot be an afterthought. Doing a job right means doing it safely — every time — and safety starts at the top,” Ms. Hersman said. “The best leaders lead by example, and so we salute the 2017 CEOs Who ‘Get It’ for going above and beyond in creating a culture of safety by focusing on what matters most.”

To learn more about SMECO, visit its Leader Member Page.

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