Spring 2023 H.R. LaBounty Safety Award Winners

The H.R. LaBounty Safety Award Program, initiated in 1999, aims to incentivize member agencies and their staff for implementing results-driven initiatives that actively pursue proactive improvements and innovations to mitigate risks and safeguard workers. This Program promotes a continuous improvement mindset among members, aligning with the JPIA’s Commitment to Excellence Program, to effectively reduce potential losses. All ACWA JPIA members are encouraged to review and consider incorporating the best practices of other members into their operations.

At the Spring and Fall Conferences, the JPIA proudly announces and acknowledges the outstanding achievements of employees who have actively contributed to improving their District’s safety program. In the latest round of submissions, ten nominations were received from six members, recognizing the commendable efforts of their employees. Here are some noteworthy examples of winning submissions that effectively applied the Hierarchy of Controls to potentially minimize or eliminate workplace hazards.

Rope Safety, El Dorado Irrigation District

Matt Heape, Hydro Operations and Maintenance Supervisor, at the El Dorado Irrigation District, reached out to International Rope Access Trade Association, a certified training company, to establish a formal ropes safety training program following the Use of Rope Access Equipment, a Cal/OSHA standard. This training equipped District employees with the knowledge of best practices, awareness, and preparedness for using ropes to rappel down the sides of flumes, which are used to conduct repairs, maintenance, and inspections. Alongside the practical training, El Dorado Irrigation District also updated its Code of Safe Practices and conducted a Job Safety Analysis (JSA). As a result, the District has implemented several administrative controls by identifying potential hazards and proper work processes to prepare staff to perform rope access work.

Drop Tool Prevention, Moulton Niguel Water District

Moulton Niguel Water District employs fleet mechanics who often need to access the tops of Vacon trucks for maintenance and repair tasks. Fall protection is required for such access, but using tools while ascending or descending these trucks can hinder maintaining three points of contact, as well as pose a risk of tools falling to the ground and striking someone below. To address this issue, Guy Atwood, Mechanic, produced the idea of using a tool pouch while working on elevated surfaces. The District then procured 3M DBI-Sala Tool Pouches for mechanics to securely store their tools. This administrative control has enabled mechanics to climb onto trucks while maintaining three points of contact and securely storing tools, reducing potential hazards.

Hydrant Extension, Sacramento Suburban Water District

The Sacramento Suburban Water District has implemented a proactive approach to maintenance and repairs of fire hydrants in the field to mitigate risks associated with traffic exposure and ergonomic injuries. To address the challenges, Joe Crockett, Distribution Foreman, devised a hydrant repair station at their Corporation Yard. This station includes a 24-inch hydrant bury extension attached to a check valve installed in the ground. When a hydrant requires maintenance or repair, it is brought back to the yard and attached to the extension. Elevating the hydrant to the operator’s working power zone, this ergonomic design allows for better leverage during wrenching and reduces the need for stooping and bending. As a result, operators can quickly and safely replace damaged hydrants in the field with ones that have been previously repaired at the Corporation Yard, reducing the time crews spend on the roadway. This proactive engineering control reduces potential risks related to working in and around traffic and enhances ergonomic conditions.

Nearly two decades ago, the National Safety Council (NSC) established June as National Safety Month in the United States. As JPIA members head into the summer months, which typically experience the highest rates of workplace-related injuries according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the JPIA encourages members to draw inspiration from the Spring 2023 H.R. LaBounty Safety Award winners along with past winning nominations. By identifying risks & improving safety standards, JPIA members can make a difference in their agencies and the lives of their employees & families.

Written by: Jeremy Sadler, Risk Control Advisor