Thomas Maddalone is KEC’s Safety Director and has worked for KEC for nearly six years.
What made you interested in working for KEC? How did you train for work in this field?
My family loves North Idaho, and we were looking to relocate. KEC has one of the strongest safety cultures in the electric cooperative industry. Prior to getting hired at KEC, I worked as a journeyman lineman and safety coordinator for a cooperative in Colorado. My training includes line school and an apprenticeship. I gained interest in the safety industry after working with fellow crew members to improve the safety culture at my previous cooperative. I have also served as a volunteer firefighter for many years. I completed the Certified Loss Control Professional Program, which is co-sponsored by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and the National Utility Training and Safety Education Association. The purpose of the program is to provide an educational foundation for safety professionals, giving them the information and tools needed to be effective leaders of the safety function for their organization.
What does a day look like for you as the Safety Director?
In my role, I coordinate the planning, development and implementation of safety programs, safety orientations and emergency preparedness programs. I serve as a resource to the cooperative for safety, including ensuring safety equipment is current, conducting field visits, providing personal protective equipment (PPE) and more. I’ve also been very involved in the design of the new headquarters, as well as the indoor training facility described on the following page. I serve as the primary investigator when damages occur on our system. This includes vehicle vs. power pole accidents and when homeowners or contractors dig into our power lines. Related to this, I am on the Kootenai County Utilities Council, which provides Call Before You Dig (811) service to Kootenai County.
Tell us about KEC’s safety program.
KEC has a robust safety program with an excellent safety record. Our goal is to send all our employees home safe each day to their families. We hold regular safety trainings and promote employee feedback through our three safety committees. KEC’s safety culture is one with open communication and we encourage discussions about safety issues. In fact, any employee can stop work if there is a safety concern. The group can then assess and identify the hazard before continuing work.
What is the biggest challenge in your job?
My day can change at a moment’s notice. I could be in the office at a meeting in the morning and out in the field investigating an incident involving damage to KEC’s equipment that afternoon. It is a fast-paced environment, but I really enjoy it. Managing safety through the pandemic has also been a challenge as we monitored changing guidelines, implemented CDC protocols and procured PPE through material shortages.
What is the best part of your job?
I enjoy meeting our members and coordinating with other organizations on safety issues. I appreciate my co-workers—they take such pride in safety that they make my job easier.