Tom Cohenno: T&D World's New Training Leader

Aug. 4, 2016
We want to make sure that all employees possess the technical competence to work safely and professionally – no exceptions

A couple of months ago, I made the mistake of calling Rick Bush and offering to write a column about training and safety for  T&D World’s "E-train" newsletter.  As the director of training for Southern California Edison, I’d been reading the newsletter for some time and decided, now that I have my own business, to start making a contribution, rather than just always receiving the benefit.

Given the lofty nature of publishing I didn’t actually anticipate a response. Instead, the opposite happened.  I received a call from Rick Bush, who told me that he wouldn’t settle for a mere column if he could talk me into taking over the "T&D Training" site. He was as persuasive as my Navy recruiter. And, I have to admit, after hearing his pitch I jumped at the chance.

Rick told me he was thrilled that I had been responsible for the training centers at SCE and knew first-hand the results of poor training and inattentiveness to safety dynamics.  I shared with him that I was hired by Edison immediately after being discharged from the Navy and reported to a large coal-fired power plant in Southern Nevada.  A year later, just after I moved to a T&D position in the LA area, the coal plant suffered a major steam leak and eight employees were killed, including my two former carpool partners.  It was the beginning of a career-long interest in training and safety, unfortunately reinforced over the years by additional fatalities and serious injuries. 

Rick intuitively sensed my professional focus and passion and moved quickly to solidify my enthusiastic participation. But, it will take all of us, not just the two of us, to help improve training and safety throughout the industry.

We want to make sure that all employees possess the technical competence to work safely and professionally – no exceptions.  We want "T&D E-train" to become an exceptionally helpful and critical source of information about training and safety.  We will start by reaching out to you and 50,000 of your industry peers. We will be seeking, collecting and sharing your thoughts and best practices as well as those of vendors, scholars, regulators and oversight agencies.

We will use commentary to spur discussion, blogs to share best practices, short insightful pieces to respect your time, webinars to mitigate distance;  and where necessary, in-depth pieces to unpack difficult and elusive concepts worth knowing.  We will continue to share the outstanding "T&D How" videos and one-on-one interviews.  In short, we will leverage and use all appropriate digital media in order to successfully interact with those who work in the field as well as those who work in the office.

Rick and I are old enough to accept that we are not experts, but we are experienced enough to know that we care deeply about this responsibility.  We know that you do too, and we’re counting on you to join this journey with us.  We need you to guide, refute, challenge, validate, encourage and support us on the road ahead.  We will build a curated list of training resources and contacts to help each of you, whether you work for a private utility, a public utility or as a vendor or a contractor.

While attending to "T&D Training" and "E-train," my business partners and I are also running Applied Learning Science where our focus is not only the prevention of injuries and fatalities, but even the elimination of day to day workplace uncertainty.  “Am I grounding this correctly?  Am I’m following all of the safety rules that will keep me and the crew alive, today?” 

So we are not only writing about safety and training, we are living it.  We’re putting our time, money and heart into these endeavors  and consider it a sincere privilege to be able to work with each of you going forward.

In the meantime, please keep an eye out for these developments as they unfold.  Please contact me at [email protected].  I want to hear your feedback- good, bad, too much, missing the mark - you get the idea. 

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