There hasn't been a lost time injury at Nova Scotia Power's Milton Heavy Maintenance Shop since back when the original Star Wars movie was still fresh in theatres. Not since June 27, 1977 - an incredible 40 years ago.
"It's an amazing accomplishment," said Jamie MacDonald, Nova Scotia Power's Senior Director of Power Production. "The team at Milton does high risk work, and they've proven that all injuries are preventable. They are an inspiration for all our teams at Nova Scotia Power."
The Queens County shop directly employs 20 permanent and part-time workers, supported by a six-member planning and engineering group and three administrative staff. They perform maintenance on hydroelectric generating equipment across Nova Scotia. The generators date back as far as the 1920s, so at times the Milton team must fabricate new parts from scratch because replacement parts don't exist.
Components that can be moved to the Milton shop will be refurbished there. Staff will travel to hydro sites across the province to work on pieces that cannot be moved. The equipment they work on ranges from a few thousand kilograms to 140 metric tons in size.
"The shop consists of a very talented group of individuals," said Scott Whynot, Nova Scotia Power's Superintendent of Hydro Maintenance. "They are machinists, millwrights, welders and utility workers, who work in situations that involve confined space, rigging and manipulation of large components, machining, welding, and various other hazards. All of these hazards are mitigated on a daily basis by a strong safety culture."
Whynot said countless individual employees - always working together as a team - have built and maintained the Milton shop's safety culture over the past 40 years.
"The common thread that has brought this team to this achievement is the team's respect for one another and their willingness to speak up to ensure their coworkers and themselves go home safely at the end of every day," he explained "This culture developed in the 1970s, and has continued to improve and grow over the years."
The work done by the Milton team is crucial to maintaining hydroelectricity generation for Nova Scotia Power. It varies year to year, but, on average, hydroelectricity provides around 10% of the electricity used by Nova Scotians. Hydro is generated at 33 plants located on 17 river systems across the province. In 2016, 28% of electricity came from renewable sources; hydro accounted for 8%.
Current team members at the Milton Heavy Maintenance Shop include: Raymond Alexander, Phillip Anthony, Jared Blades, Dwayne Bond, Stephen Cole, Craig Comeau, Dylan Doucette, Brandon Fralic, Bobbi-Jo Goulden, Andrew Hamm, Bernard Hemeon, Mike Hupman, Jimmy Jeddry, Jeffrey Levy, Becky McDonald, Gary McLeod, Bevan Rhyno, Aaron Walsh, Paul Westhaver, Jason Wolfe, and James Zong.