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The Navasota Network and a Conversation about Safety

Published: 07/20/2015

Nearly two generations since Navasota's last lost-time accident

Let's go back to a much groovier time. This was a time in which people welcomed Kotter into their living rooms. This was a time when middle children empathized with Jan's anguish when she exclaimed, "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia." And this was most certainly a time when people listened to the sounds of Jackson Browne, Olivia Newton-John and Donna Summer on 8-track players and your music library was on shelves in your home not your phone.

"The times they are a changin," sang Bob Dylan.  Mr. Dylan, times have changed. But one thing that has been consistent since the 1970s, 1972, to be exact, is the Navasota network's exemplary safety record. The last time this network experienced a lost-time accident was in October of 1972.

Some of the lineman and servicemen with the Navasota network sat down with Inside Entergy to discuss this remarkable record and what it takes to maintain it. Combined this group has 63 and a half years of experience at Entergy. They include: Gus Gutierrez, 1st class serviceman, Britt McCormick, 1st class lineman, Jason Orlando, 4th class lineman and Joel Threadgill, 1st class serviceman.

"Safety is our No. 1 priority," said Orlando. One of the newest to join the Navasota crew, Orlando said, "I came here with no experience and I've never felt unsafe. The others on my team don't just tell you what to do but explain the how's and why's and what can happen if you do it wrong."   

The generational knowledge that has been passed on in the Navasota network is central to it not having experienced a lost-time accident in more than four decades.

Line supervisor Steve Winkler said, "The main thing to ensure safety for us is hands-on type training with new employees. We don't throw them out on their own. We work side-by-side with them going over rules and instructions. We have more of a family outlook here and we take care of each other. Part of that is making sure new employees are up to speed. I give credit to tenured linemen for being actively involved in doing the right things for these new employees."

Working side-by-side with one another is also central to the network focus on accountability.

"Our approach is that if we see something that doesn't look right, we let that person know. If someone is questioning you, know that they are looking out for your well-being," said Threadgill.

Threadgill comes from a family of linemen and imparts the same wisdom to the newer hires that his uncles shared with him: Don't work any faster that you can think. Gutierrez agreed, "Plan your job out so you're not in a hurry to rush yourself."

Terms like groovy and out-of-sight are no longer part of everyday lexicon in the years since Navasota experienced a lost-time accident. But one word has remained in popular use and action here and that is safety.

Winkler said, "It makes you feel good that they are going home every day to their families. We have a big pride in this record. It makes me feel proud as supervisor to hear them talk about our record and that we are doing the right thing."

This focus on safety first does not end when they go home at night. As McCormick said, "Be safe at home and at work."​ 

Phallan K. Davis