Welcome! The Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives (AREA) is a member-owned federation of 22 electric distribution cooperatives.

AREA, Cullman program highlights work zone safety

The statewide safety staff has for many years emphasized traffic control setup in co-op meetings. But recently, AREA’s Michael Kelley conducted an on-site program to test a line crew at Cullman EC, with help from Michael Sullins, Cullman’s compliance and loss control administrator.

“The only way you can see how good you are is when you go out and do an audit,” Kelley says. One of our co-ops reported a near-miss the same week as the program at Cullman, which underscores the need for traffic control to be a part of the pre-planning process for each crew.

“We want to see our co-ops get to a point where we work with the engineers and the stakers and make sure they understand how important it is to let the crews know that there’s limited sight distance on a job site, or to include a note so the crew knows what to expect.”

AREA recognizes that especially with small crews, linemen are needed to do the utility work, which doesn’t leave a person free to do traffic control. All hands are needed just to get the job done. But as traffic on rural roads and distracted driving among motorists both increase, so will the importance of, and need for, traffic control.

“It may take more people and more equipment on a job site, and that equates to money and time, and everyone wants to do more with less,” Kelley says. “But it’s absolutely necessary.”

ALDOT places emphasis on flaggers and flagging safety, which is important, Kelley says, but it’s only a part of a traffic control plan.

AREA has for the last few years been a part of the Struck-By Alliance, which promotes work zone safety and pushes that message to motorists. AREA has also produced a pocket-sized quick reference guide to help co-ops with their traffic control planning; those can be ordered from Mary Thompson at mthompson@areapower.com

And the AREA safety staff will continue to foster discussions at the co-op level to help different departments work together on traffic control.