May 2009

Safety: A way of life

“Safety has to be a way of life because it affects your quality of life.”
    – Steve Cook, maintenance manager, Watts Bar Nuclear Plant


Watts Bar Nuclear Plant Mechanical Maintenance Shop manager Steve Cook, right, works with nuclear level III mechanical techs Gary Lewis and Melvin Mahabirsingh on a training mock up for the Terry Driven Aux Feed Pump. This important equipment will require major work during the upcoming Watts Bar refueling outage.

Steve Cook, a maintenance manager at Watts Bar Nuclear Plant, learned about working safely early in his career — in the coal mines of West Virginia where “there were all kinds of traps and no room for forgiveness.”

Today, at Watts Bar, he says, “Safety has to be a way of life because it affects your quality of life,” and he credits the Tri-Lateral Safety Alliance with making TVA’s work safer.

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility,” Cook says. “That’s the great thing about TLSA. It’s about ownership. It’s everyone working together. It shows that TVA isn’t responsible for safety. Everyone is.”

Cook believes this commitment to safety will take TVA’s performance to the next level. “It’s important to establish a safe work culture, and it takes all three groups — TVA, the Tennessee Valley Trades & Labor Council and TVA’s partner contractors — to make that happen.

“TLSA means we’re all partners working together for a safe work environment for everyone.”

This year, TLSA is celebrating its 3-year anniversary. Have its efforts paid off? Cook says he’s seen tremendous changes in attitudes and people being more tolerant of changes.

“It’s the best thing we have done in a long time. People are more accepting of requirement changes, whether it’s wearing safety gear or filling out extra paperwork, because there’s a good reason. People understand the need for a safe work environment.”

Cook says he practices safety everyday, whether he is on the job or at home. “Believe it or not, some of the tools to be safe and error-free help me in life outside of work.

“For instance, I use the 2-minute rule whenever I go out to cut the grass. Before I start the job, I take a couple of minutes to walk down the lawn to make sure nothing is in the path I’m going to cut. I also do a walk-down of my boat before leaving the dock.

“And I use Stop-Think-Act-Review in all of my home projects. I found that I don’t use as much material when I use STAR. And, I’ve communicated to my two sons the safety habits I developed at work. This means how they should approach their work at home or in the work place. SAFETY FIRST, always.”














tri lateral safety logo

Tri-Lateral Safety Alliance

The Tri-lateral Safety Alliance is a partnership between TVA, the Tennessee Valley Trades & Labor Council and TVA partner contractors. Its goal is to create a work environment in which all employees take ownership of safety without fear of retribution, eliminate at-risk behaviors and achieve ZERO-accident performance.