Two million reasons to celebrate
Minnkota’s Safety manager attributes a milestone of 2 million hours with no lost-time injuries to a culture of openness.
In August 2023, Minnkota Power Cooperative employees at the Milton R. Young Station in Center, N.D., and the headquarters in Grand Forks, N.D., collectively realized a milestone never before recorded in the co-op’s 83-year history. Both locations reached 1 million work hours with no lost-time injuries – within two weeks of each other – creating a companywide tally of 2 million work hours.
The streak of safety began in August 2020 at the Young Station and January 2021 in Grand Forks. Since those dates, neither site had experienced an employee injury that resulted in five or more consecutive days away from work. Both locations have reached the “1 million” mark before (Grand Forks in 2016, Young Station in 2019), but those milestones were staggered in time.
“This is a new first for us,” said Minnkota Safety Manager Jason Uhlir, who oversees Safety personnel at both Minnkota locations. He noted that several elements have helped lead to an incredible safety record, including investment in newer and safer tools and equipment, implementation of more safety programs and training, and the dedication of his staff to fostering good relationships and a culture of openness.
“My hat is off to the Safety team in Grand Forks and at the Young Station for facilitating that environment,” Uhlir said. “But ultimately it’s the employees that have to be willing to bring concerns forward and be willing to learn. And they’ve done that.”
“I want to give hearty congratulations to every single employee in Center and Grand Forks. Two million work hours without a lost-time injury is a phenomenal feat, especially in an industry like ours,” said Minnkota President and CEO Mac McLennan. “We should all be proud of what has been accomplished with those 2 million hours of safe service to our members and their communities.”
Minnkota is an industry leader in workforce safety performance, maintaining incident rate statistics that are equal to or better than industry peers across the country. In addition to lost-time injuries, OSHA-recordable injuries (those that require treatment beyond first aid) have also remained low over the years.
For Minnkota, safety isn’t just about keeping statistics low or celebrating numerical achievements. It’s about caring for the others in the cooperative family.
“We want everyone to be asking themselves the right questions and looking out for each other,” Uhlir said. “We know we’ll get a skinned knee here and there, but we want to make sure everybody is going home at day’s end. That truly is my number one goal.”