Two words were written on the shirt sleeve of Chris Dodgen: Safety Excellence.
Dodgen, a Georgia Power employee, partnered with Pike Construction on Thursday to demonstrate steps that Augusta first responders can take in emergency situations involving live downed power lines.
“Our No. 1 goal is safety excellence,” Dodgen said. “It’s absolutely crucial, and holding a demonstration like this only ensures everyone’s protection.”
In all, more than two dozen first responders attended the demonstration, including members of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, Richmond County Marshal’s Office and Augusta Fire Department.
The purpose of the demonstration was to ensure a uniformed understanding of the dangers of working around downed power lines and equipment in emergency settings. For 45 minutes, Pike Construction employees taught local first responders about the proper techniques on how to handle downed power lines.
“In 2001, we began doing this demonstration with hopes of raising awareness of dangers in our industry,” said Andy Cleary, director of safety for Pike Construction. “Members of the sheriff’s office and fire department are often around energized (power) lines, so we want to make sure they know how to handle them safety.”
Thursday was the third demonstration that Pike Construction has done this week in the Augusta area. Prior to the tutorial on North Leg Road, there were events for first responders in Evans and Thomson. Following the Augusta demonstration, Pike Construction headed to Waynesboro for another event.
“It’s all about safety,” Cleary said. “A lot of times, police officers arrive at the scene first, so it’s crucial they understand the dangers of downed power lines.”
Electrocution is one of the leading causes of death in construction, according to the Center for Construction Research and Training. The center states that from 1992 to 2010, a total of 2,432 construction workers died from electrocution at job sites, accounting for nearly half of the overall work-related electrocution deaths in the U.S.
From 2008 and 2010, the main cause of electrocution deaths among electrical workers was contact with “live” electrical equipment and wiring, according to the center. For non-electrical workers, the main cause of electrocution deaths was contact with overhead power-lines. About one-fifth of overhead power line electrocution deaths were due to direct contact of the worker’s body with the live power line or lighting equipment.
Reach Doug Stutsman at (706) 823-3341 or firstname.lastname@example.org.