Star Awards for 2018 Q3

Sean Hartman and Steve Winniford

Sean and Steve improved the safety shower and eyewash stations at the Bollman Water Treatment Plant, which has led to similar improvements being planned at the other plants. In addition to Steve originally identifying that the showers at the plant needed to be evaluated, Steve and Sean coordinated a third-party audit of the entire plant to ensure all deficiencies were identified. After receiving some trouble getting traction on the project, both employees continued to elevate the issue and develop solutions to ensure the problems were adequately address with sufficient budget and staff time.

For implementation of the repairs, Sean and Steve rebuilt and added new eye wash stations at Bollman, fabricating units that are far more effective than the units they replaced. In some cases, this involved an entire replumbing of the safety shower source piping, which was undersized in several locations. While function is more important than form in this case, it also doesn’t hurt that the new eyewash stations are so well designed they not only work well, but they also look first class, too.

New Eyewash Station at Bollman

Eyewash Station

Star Awards for 2018 Q2

Joe Coley

Joe was getting ready to do a fence repair in the Check 3 area of Pittsburg when he noticed a string draped over the top of the 121KV high voltage lines. Joe and the rest of the crew stayed away from the line and Joe immediately contacted his Supervisor. The danger felt was that the unidentified string had the potential to be a conductive material that could produce a shock. PG&E was notified and responded immediately. Upon arrival PG&E reported that it was a kite string and not conductive material and removed it. Joe did a great job in identifying a potential danger. Without knowing the exact material of the string it presented a danger to Joe and the crew. Joe put the safety of the crew and himself first.  This is the type of action that should be acknowledged and rewarded. Thank you Joe for your willingness to put safety above all else. A great example of what the District strives for to ensure the safety of its crews and staff. Way to go Joe!

Ken Swenson and Joe Wright

Ken Swenson and Joe Wright have been at the forefront of helping the District improve its Arc Flash safety, as well as meeting the associated regulations. Ken and Joe have taken on a lot of work with the project and in doing so have greatly improved workplace safety for all employees. Their attention to detail, patience with getting the rest of us up to speed, and commitment to the project are all commendable. This effort has far reaching effects and the way the two have conducted themselves is an example for all to strive towards.

Arc Flash is a short circuit in high voltage/current industrial equipment. The wires and equipment can vaporize, meaning they go from solid to vapor, expanding to 67,000 times their original size. This can cause shock waves that have a tremendous force; they can literally blow an employee off their feet, causing concussion, internal injuries, hearing loss, and injury from flying parts. It can cause shocks and electrocution. Arc Flash creates a large amount of heat that can cause burns, as well as a high intensity flash than cause severe damage to the eyes.

Regulations require that electrical equipment be labeled with PPE requirements and other conditions that need to be meet prior to performing work. Arc Flash involves an Electrical Engineering study, that looks at the time it takes for protection devices to activate, like breaker set points and fuse ratings. Arc Flash protection at the District has been a large undertaking. It has taken a significant amount of time and effort to remedy. Previously installed equipment was not designed with these hazards in mind or regulations in place. All sites with electrical equipment need to be evaluated, this included evaluating over 40 sites throughout the District. These safety efforts have been ongoing since 2013. This work involved initial training on the hazards and the newly enacted regulations, the initial RFP development, evaluating RFP’s, once the contract was awarded, then site visits to capture information, research to obtain missing or needed information, draft report reviews, labeling of equipment and now looking at mitigation issues. All this work has taken a significant amount of time and effort. Since project inception, Ken and Joe have been the Districts technical advisors, and go-to people whenever something was needed. The District would not have made the progress it has, without their ongoing efforts, continued dedication, and commitment to employee safety. There is still more work to be done, and it will be accomplished with the help of Ken and Joe at the forefront of Arc Flash safety compliance.

Fantastic work, Ken and Joe!

Spot Awards for 2018 Q2

Rick Fisher

Rick was called by Control for a possible leak on Landana Drive in Concord. Upon arrival, Rick noticed that the leak was coming from the meter box on the residence side of the system. After opening the box, Rick located the leak and attempted to make contact with the homeowner, who was unable to speak any English. Rick contacted the On-Call Supervisor to explain that the family would be without water if the issue wasn’t immediately addressed, so the leak was fixed with a clamp and the service was restored. Rick took it upon himself to contact the On-Call Supervisor to explain what would have happened if the water was left off overnight and then he went above and beyond, keeping customer service at the forefront. Great work, Rick!

Linda Ljuba

Linda walking along Bisso Lane and noticed two limbs had broken off from the trees along the District's property. She immediately notified a supervisor to see what could be done to remove the limbs or block the sidewalk to prevent anyone from walking underneath the limbs. Thank you for recognizing this potential hazard to pedestrian safety, Linda!

Star Awards for 2018 Q1

Daniel Sinosky and Manuel Goodall

Daniel and Manuel designed and built a tool to open the blow-off in a permit confined space so that they would not have to enter the space. By using this tool, a valve key extension, they were able to safely operate the valve and fully open and close the valve without having to enter the vault. Creating this tool has eliminated the need to expose employees to a confined space during this task.

Both Daniel and Manuel identified a safety problem that had been in existence for years and made the effort to implement a solution. The tool will benefit future crew members, providing a long term positive effect to the safety program.

Great job, Daniel and Manuel!


Dustin Hinks

A contractor was working at a District excavation site to install rebar and pour a large concrete restrain block around a newly installed valve. The contractor was under the assumption that they could enter a partially shored excavation to form the rebar. The excavation was ten-feet deep. Dustin stopped the contractor and contacted his supervisor, Matt Underwood who then contacted engineering for clearance on a different approach to building and installing the rebar cage.

Dustin ensured that not only were our employees working under safe conditions, but the contractors were as well. This was a large project so it is commendable that Dustin made this effort. Our crews are under tremendous pressure to insure service is returned as soon as possible. The fact that Dustin kept safety as his top priority exemplifies the attitude and attentiveness we hope our employees exhibit. Sometimes doing the right thing is not an easy thing to do but Dustin bringing this to his supervisor’s attention kept all those involved safe. Recognizing efforts like this will hopefully make it easier for other employees to do in future similar situations.

Great job, Dustin!


Deion Gonsalves

The District has a natural gas fueled truck. Recently the District received a letter from PG&E regarding a fuel tank inspection for the vehicle. The vehicle was subsequently red-tagged until resolution was made on the inspection. The area supervisor contacted a vendor and set up to have the tank inspected. The need for inspection was discussed in passing between the Maintenance Manager and Deion. Deion, being familiar with these types of vehicles form his prior employer, took it upon himself to proactively go out and look at the vehicle. He noted that the tank life had expired. Deion then researched the issue, contacting people he knew that worked on these types of vehicles, and researched it through the internet to verify that indeed the tank was at the end of its life and the only option was replacement.

Deion was proactive in going outside of his area to look at a potential issue, getting involved and investigating something that could have been an issue. His leadership skills and initiative demonstrates excellent safety management. His continued efforts to go out of his way to ensure the safety of employees is applauded and recognized. Thank you, Deion, for your continued efforts and example of what the District strives for when it comes to safety.

Ryan Lindsey

In the course of exposing a water main leak, an excavation had reached more than 14 feet deep. Shoring had been installed in the excavation but became unsafe after leaking water undermined the stability of the shoring. Ryan stopped the job, ensured no employee entered the excavation, and notified his supervisor of the safety issue. Ryan’s critical evaluation of the excavation and willingness to speak up to stop the job kept employees safe and helped to communicate the crew’s safety concerns to supervisors and managers.

Using your stop work authority is not always an easy thing to do, and recognizing Ryan for using his authority sends a clear message to other employees that they will be supported. Shutting down a job is not an easy thing to do but Ryan recognized that the situation was unsafe. He made safety a priority for his crew.

Ryan’s actions are a clear example of what the District strives for to ensure the safety of its employees. Great job, Ryan!