IBEW Local Union 26
Washington, D.C.

Safety Committee
Workplace Safety

Our trade, while rewarding, can be dangerous under certain circumstances. The equipment we work around, the conditions we work in, and the vast number of people we work alongside all pose threats to our safety and health on the job if safe work practices are not a top priority. There is no place for shortcuts in our trade, there is no room for errors and, sadly, a second chance may not be possible after a bad decision is made. Quite simply, safe work practices must become habit, second nature, if we are to ensure that our members are able to return home to their families safe and sound each day. Electricity and electrical products play fundamental roles in how we do business each day. However, if not used or maintained appropriately, they can pose serious risks. Over the last ten years, more than 30,000 workers have been injured in workplace electrical accidents. While electrical hazards are not the leading cause of on-the-job injuries and accidents, they are disproportionately fatal and costly. These injuries not only disrupt the lives of the workers and their families, but also impact the productivity of employers. The good news is that most on-the-job electrocutions and electrical injuries can be prevented by following the jobsite safety rules and policies you are responsible for, your own safety, and that of your co-workers!

To that end and in accordance with the IBEW Constitution, the Local is in the process of forming a Local 26 Safety and Health Committee. The committee will be chaired by Safety Coordinator Paul Henriques. The goals of the committee will be to:

• Investigate and report serious accidents and fatalities
• Cooperate with the International Office on safety and health matters
• Promote safety and health
• Cooperate with safety and health organizations as determined by the Local Union and as directed by the International Office
• Investigate and report to the International Office all serious lost-time accidents and fatalities

The success of the committee will largely depend on participation from our members. It is our goal to have members volunteer to join the committee and commit to meeting regularly. With a vast jurisdiction, we will need members representing Maryland, Virginia, and the District. The committee will work closely with our contractors to promote safety and address any accidents or safety concerns should they present themselves. In short, the committee will:

• Promote and maintain the interest of all involved in health and safety issues
• Assist any Brother or Sister who has been injured in any way possible
• Educate through awareness and training activities focused on our shared responsibility for the prevention of workplace accidents
• Help make health and safety activities an integral part of our everyday planning, operating procedures, culture, work habits, and programs
• Help our members and contractors stay informed of issues, new standards, and research as it pertains to safety and health.
• Help reduce the risk of workplace injuries
• Help our contractors stay informed about the changing federal, state, and local health and safety standards
• Create a more competitive team by making required certifications accessible to all of our members

In addition to the mandate by the IBEW Constitution to have a safety committee, such a committee is also mandated by our inside wireman’s agreement. The agreement states that a safety committee should meet not less than once a year to review OSHA safety standards and how they should be applied within the parameters and jurisdiction of our agreement. Additionally, and of paramount importance, our agreement, in Section 2.09, states that all jobsite accidents must be reported the same day to a job foreman or, in the absence of a foreman, to the employer. The foreman, or the employer as the case may be, will submit a written report to the employer’s office and the local union if requested by the business manager or president of the union. These reports will provide the kind of information that will be reviewed by the safety committee in an effort to better understand the frequency and circumstances of jobsite accidents and how best to prepare the membership to avoid such hazards.

Working towards improved safety for our members benefits our entire Local Union, protecting our members on the job so they can ply their skills in a rewarding career, and setting the IBEW apart from the rest not just in skill but in safety as well. There is no reason anyone should have to choose between their safety and their job; the two should go hand in glove.

If you would like to join the Local 26 Health and Safety Committee, report safety violations, injuries or any concerns with safety, please email the safety committee safety@ibewlocal26.org or contact Brother Henriques at the Union Hall at 301-459-2900. We thank you in advance for your interest in promoting and protecting the safety and health of your fellow Local 26 Brothers and Sisters. We will continue to report on our new Health and Safety Committee as information presents itself.