T&D World Magazine
Gordy Morris: ‘Electricity is Not Forgiving’

Gordy Morris: ‘Electricity is Not Forgiving’

When working with electricity, you must not become complacent or overconfident. If you do, that is usually when a mistake is made, according to Gordy Morris, training supervisor at Georgia Power’s Klondike Training Center. “You must always pay attention to what you are doing,” Morris said. “Electricity is not forgiving when something bad happens. We must always follow safety rules and work procedures. If you do that, you will go home the way you came into work.”

Morris, who worked his way up to training supervisor in 2009 from helper in substation construction in 1979, said that the first thing a Georgia Power employee knows to do is use their Personal Protective Equipment for restoring power. “It seems like a simple thing, but sometimes people have a tendency to forget. That’s when accidents happen.”

Morris manages the team that supports the strategy of the training organization. This role involves the collection, organization and structuring of information and material into a format that can be detailed and developed into new training, policies and procedures. This would also include balancing training products with understanding new OSHA standards and how they will impact new and current work practices and procedures. It also involves new hire strategies working with technical colleges, workforce development camps/events and other programs that would create awareness of career opportunities for future talent. 

Other responsibilities of this strategy team will include serving on committees, investigative teams and writing technical documents for the distribution organization.  The strategy team will also continue to deliver, and maintain training programs focused on our craft/technical skills development programs.  These programs cover training from entry level through journeyman, in the areas of construction, operation, and maintenance of high-voltage utility distributions lines, equipment, and systems.

Georgia Power’s motto is “TARGET ZERO. This means we want to be accident free every day,” Morris said. “My goal is to ensure everyone has the working knowledge, expertise and skills to perform their job in a safe and efficient manner. Safety is a key component of everything we teach.”

The training program includes overhead and underground skills, safety rules, policies and work procedures and each participant must demonstrate the physical abilities to do the work safely and effectively.

Georgia Power is also developing a program for the new OSHA standard changes, which will go into effect April 1, 2015. The new program will include:

  • What is OSHA’s mission
  • Fall Protection
  • Primary & Secondary Protection
  • Electrical Hazard Protection (Step & Touch)
  • Di-electric Footwear
  • Minimum Approach Distance
  • Protection from Flames & Electrical Arc Flash
  • Methods for Inspecting & Testing Wood Poles
  • Definition of Work Area

“Training presents a prime opportunity to expand the knowledge base of employees,” Morris said. “A training program allows you to strengthen those skills an employee will need to be successful in the electrical utility industry. Our Lineman Development Program brings employees to a higher skill level so that they have the knowledge to perform the task safely.”

Morris maintained that an employee who receives the necessary training will be better at performing their job. “They will become more aware of safety practices and work procedures for the task to be performed.  The training will also build confidence because they will have a better understanding of their responsibilities. This confidence can help them work safely, perform at a higher level and encourage them to think of new ideas that may help their fellow co-workers at Georgia Power and in the industry as well.”

Morris loves Georgia Power because of its opportunities for growth, and for the people he works with every day. He took advantage of all of those opportunities when he joined Southern Company (Georgia Power’s parent company) after leaving the military. He worked his way up through the ranks from Helper, Winch truck Operator, Apprentice Lineman, and then in 1984 to Lineman. During this time Georgia Power sent him through several training classes to become a Subject Matter Expert.

“It is an excellent company that is diverse, treats it employees well, is ethical and has a value system that is important to me,” Morris said. “Working my way up through the ranks I have always had a passion for training and helping others to succeed. I am happy I made the decision to join the Georgia Power Distribution Training Team and have had the opportunity to contribute to its success.”

Morris employs some of the same strategies in his spare time as he does on his job. He plays golf with his wife, and “when playing golf you have to pay attention to the details; you have to practice; you have to choose the right equipment; you have to evaluate the situation before you play the hole; you have to have a strategy; you have to execute the plan. These are the same things we have to do every day to achieve TARGET ZERO.”

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