CEO’s Message – September 2020

Safety is Everyone’s Responsibility

Stearns Electric Association prides itself on our safety culture. Our internal safety committee, made up of Cooperative employees, meets monthly to discuss best safety practices for our workplace and review any workplace accidents or near misses. Every month, all of our employees participate in monthly department safety training, which covers a wide range of topics.

Our line crews and field employees also participate in hands-on safety training every month, provided by outside organizations, such as the Minnesota Rural Electric Association (MREA). It is crucial that we do everything we can to ensure our employees return home safely to their families and loved ones at the end of each work day.

Creating an effective safety culture is an ongoing process and a large commitment on behalf of the Cooperative. However, our efforts result in a positive attitude toward safety and a reduction in accidents and incidents. But we also want to keep our member-consumers and the general public safe, too. This is where you can help.


Although seemingly innocent enough, attaching items to utility poles presents safety hazards for our line crews. In some situations, attaching items to power poles can even impact the integrity of the pole or put those who are attaching items on our poles in a life-threatening situation.

Posters, signs, flags, birdhouses, balloons, basketball nets – you name it – pose dangers to Stearns Electric line workers who must climb poles when either restoring power during outages or while performing routine maintenance to ensure system reliability.

The staples, nails and tacks used to hang items on our Cooperative power poles can snag utility workers’ boots or puncture safety clothing, making line workers vulnerable to slipping and falling off of a pole, or even electrocution.

In Minnesota, attaching any items to power poles, and other similar public or private infrastructure, is illegal. Please help keep our
line workers safe by hanging your posters, signs, flags, birdhouses, balloons, basketball hoops or other items somewhere other than power poles.


You might recognize our saying “Look Up and Live.” As harvest season approaches, we often talk about looking up and looking out for overhead power lines before moving large machinery and equipment. But this is not limited to farmers. Being aware of overhead power lines is important for all members.

Power lines can be lower to the ground than they appear, especially in residential areas. Please always look up and be aware of overhead power lines while you are working on top of your roof or climbing a ladder.

Never climb trees near overhead power lines and make sure there are no overhead power lines where you plan to build hunting stands or tree houses.


Traffic is a big concern for the safety of our line crews and it is the law in Minnesota to move over, if possible, to protect emergency workers. This includes utility crews. Thank you for moving over for our crews.

Lastly, if you ever find yourself in a vehicle accident involving any sort of electrical equipment – including power poles, green transformer boxes, or substations – please stay in your vehicle and call 911 for help. Do not exit your vehicle until an emergency responder or a utility line worker tells you it is safe.

There is only one exception to this rule and that is if your vehicle starts on fire after an accident. If your vehicle is on fire, you must exit the vehicle by crossing your arms over your chest, getting to the edge of the vehicle and jumping with both of your feet together, making sure not to reach back to the vehicle for any reason. With your feet still together, shuffle at least 100 yards away.

Safety is everyone’s responsibility. Thank you for doing your part to help keep both you and our employees safe.


Robin C. Doege