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Power plant’s zero recordable rate a boon for Boilermakers, Enerfab

If you’re not safety oriented, you’re not going to be a superintendent with Enerfab.

Brian Crider, L-83

Brian Crider, Enerfab project manager and retired L-83’s Dave Perkins, Enerfab project consultant, keep the power on in Columbia, Missouri.

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Enerfab and Boilermakers at Local 83 (Kansas City, Missouri) are celebrating a zero recordables safety record at the Columbia Municipal Power Plant in Columbia, Missouri. In the 20 years of operation without a recordable, Boilermakers and other workers have safely worked more than 200,000 man-hours and have effectively reduced Enerfab’s overall recordable rate to an all-time record low of 0.73.

According to L-83’s Brian Crider, Enerfab project manager, the impressive achievement shows Enerfab’s commitment to safety. He said the company is committed to the well-being of its workforce. And that commitment isn’t just talk.

“If you’re not safety oriented, you’re not going to be a superintendent with Enerfab,” Crider said.

When supervising work at the plant there are comprehensive safety checklists and the expectation that workers will be drug-free and committed to completing a job safely.

“Brian and I set expectations,” said Dave Perkins, a retired L-83 member and part-time Enerfab project consultant at the plant. “If you tell people what you expect from them upfront, it makes them take ownership.”

“There are consequences if they don’t,” Crider added.

L-83’s Western Missouri Business Agent Gerald Calvert worked at the plant in the past. “It was always an exceptional job to work here. No headache. No heartache. I’ve worked here countless times. Some of it was dirty and nasty as work can be, but always an exceptional job.”

Their dedication to safety exemplifies the core values of Enerfab.

Daniel Earnest, Enerfab

Many older trade workers remember the time when few cared about safety records, when people dying on the job or going to the hospital wasn’t uncommon, as it is today.

Perkins recalls how different rules around safety were when he started working as a Boilermaker decades ago.

“Safety records didn’t come into place until late ’80s early ’90s. I remember when jobs had six people a day go to the doctor. And they always budgeted for four guys to die on a new boiler,” he said. “The simple fact is, what [owners and contractors] used to reward you for then, they’d fire you for today. It used to be ‘how fast could you get it done.’ That was the culture in the 80s.”

When safety rules evolved, Enerfab became an early adopter. Perkins said the contractor’s culture came around faster than others.

Zero recordables over 20 years demonstrates a strong commitment to safety. Increasing safety and cutting costs was due in large part to the union coming into the plant.

As Perkins tells it, a nonunion company was overhauling the turbine and removing the turbine shell when the shell cracked. The nonunion contractor said Columbia Municipal Power would need to replace it with a $1 million used shell.

“Basically, they were going to have to buy another turbine,” Perkins said.

The power plant production superintendent approached Perkins and asked if the Boilermakers could do anything to repair it, or if he was going to be stuck with a $1 million bill.

After Perkins researched the problem, he came up with a solution. “It had probably never been done before,” Perkins said. “We worked with quality engineers and then pulled the trigger on it.”

Though Boilermakers weren’t doing turbine work at the time, they stepped in to repair the cracked shell. And the rest is history. The city was so pleased, they went union for the plant’s maintenance.

The stellar safety record has done more than keep workers alive and the plant running smoothly: Enerfab has been able to bid more jobs because of its excellent safety record. And that’s good for everyone, union workers and the contractor.

“We at Enerfab could not be more proud of Dave and the numerous Boilermakers that have worked at this facility over the years,” said Daniel Earnest, Enerfab Kansas City regional general manager. “Their dedication to safety exemplifies the core values of Enerfab.”