Going Above and Beyond in the Spirit of Supporting Safety

SOURCE: AEM Advisor | November 18, 2023

Growing up with a grandfather who had worked as a lineman for Wisconsin Michigan Power Company for 40 years, I have the utmost respect for the utility workers who work around the clock to keep our lights on and our water running — rain or shine.

So, when I took a job at AEM last year and began working within its Safety & Product Leadership Department, I called my grandmother, who was thrilled for me. “Your grandfather was always big on safety,” she said.

My role at AEM tasks me with overseeing the development of AEM’s safety manuals, decals, and training kits, all designed to keep equipment operators safe. One of the many ways the association supports its members’ efforts in educating and keeping end users safe is through our Safety Materials program. But another – and sometimes overlooked – way we spread the message of the importance of product safety and compliance is through AEM trade show education efforts.

This September, I had the honor of joining my colleagues in Louisville for The Utility Expo 2023. The event is a biennial show that supports the utility sector by showcasing new equipment and technology while offering attendees the chance to network and gain valuable insights into market trends.

As someone who does not normally work in trade shows, I had the distinct pleasure of assisting in registration this year. While registering new attendees and printing out preregistered attendee badges, I was able to speak directly with a few (if not hundreds) of people regarding their reasons for coming to the show. My takeaway is this— the breadth of attendees is impressive, ranging from exhibiting vendors and engineers to equipment operators, technicians, and small business owners, all possessing varying reasons for participating in what ended up being the biggest-ever edition of The Utility Expo.

From a safety perspective, one of the biggest value propositions of AEM’s trade shows are the educational programs offered onsite. When asked about AEM’s hand in this year’s Safety Symposium, director of tradeshow content Rebecca Kettlewell emphasized, “We realized the importance of having a safety program at the show and partnered with ATTSA to bring their expertise and make it happen.”

It was clear to me that these sessions were not only valuable to general attendees, but provided a direct in for AEM’s member companies and their employees to see how general industry end users interact with and learn about safety when operating their equipment. Safety was also prevalent throughout the show floor, a critical element with so many hands-on demos.

To me, championing safety is everyone’s job. My role in AEM Safety & Product Leadership is directly related to promoting best practices for safe equipment operation, but the association supports safety in some capacity in all of its service areas. Not only does AEM work diligently with its members to develop content that outlines safety best practices, but that message is highlighted in trade shows, exhibitions, member-facing seminars and many other offerings and initiatives. Taken together, all the ways in which AEM promotes safety ensure both equipment manufacturers and end users gain access to the tools and resources they need to face both current and future industry challenges.

After working registration for both CONEXPO/CONAGG and The Utility Expo this year, I was able to gain a wider perspective of how AEM and its work with member companies reaches all corners of the industry, and how safety was not only taught, but also perceived, by all sectors. While our goal as an organization is to champion safety efforts on behalf of our member companies through AEM’s Safety & Product Leadership activities and priorities, it is incredible to see just how far we go above and beyond that to offer safety training and education to the customers our industry serves.

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