Safety upgrade helps TECO lead from behind – and alongside, and overhead…

The Grabber.

The Grabber.

When it comes to putting safety first at TECO, the Grabber was a gimme.

The Grabber is the name of a mobile crane – TECO has six so far – that will make it safer for company team members to repair the tops and upper sides of fleet vehicles. In a harness and lanyard, they’ll be able to work securely at elevations up to 31 feet. It’s part of the company’s commitment to take every precaution to protect its people. In this case, the ones on the front lines of our fleet who work to ensure Tampa Electric’s vehicles are available to support our 99.9 percent service reliability.

“We’ve made safety a top focus for the almost 120 years we’ve served the community, but dedication alone isn’t enough,” said Mark Downing, director of Safety with TECO Energy. “We’re always looking for new ways to make the workplace safer, and this is an exciting new component of that drive.”

The Grabber's overhead crane supports TECO team members who need to make repairs to fleet vehicles at elevations of up to 31 feet.

The Grabber’s overhead crane supports TECO team members who need to make repairs to fleet vehicles at elevations of up to 31 feet.

Clyde Roberds, coordinator of Safety & Industrial Health, called the Grabber – from Bartow, Fla.-based Florida Handling Systems – a great first step at addressing a frequent need for trucks that experience a lot of use from daily deployment.

“With one Grabber for each of Tampa Electric’s six garages, it’s going to help to provide an additional layer of safety when making repairs, and with its highway-ready capability, we’ll be able to take them to communities outside of the Tampa Bay area when we tackle outages as part of our mutual assistance pacts with other utilities,” he said.

The Grabbers came to TECO through the efforts of David Ware, manager of Fleet Services, and Fleet Supervisor Gerald Brigham, who learned about the Grabber as they were overseeing the finishing touches on the company’s mobile command center at Frontline Communications.

Strapped into his special harness, he'll stay safe if he loses his footing on the ladder.

Strapped into his special harness, he’ll stay safe if he loses his footing on the ladder.

“We’re proud of our safety focus at TECO, and while fortunately cases of someone falling to the ground while working on top of one of our fleet trucks are extremely rare, just one instance is too many,” said Brigham. “This is going to make a big, positive difference.”

Ware said that previously, company team members would improvise ways to secure themselves to the tops of trucks to make repairs. While they did so using proven techniques, having the Grabber will help standardize safety for this type of work.

“Especially if you consider a the need to make a road call in a large-outage situation, where many customers are depending on us to act quickly, we can’t let ourselves be sidelined by limitations in making repairs to our trucks,” he said. “Most importantly, we can’t run the risk of injuries to our team members.”

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