Published in the Las Cruces Bulletin 1.13.23
By C.T. Barnes
For years, Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) have constantly found new ways of implementing employee safety trainings and regulations. In turn these practices have kept the citizens of Las Cruces safe, as LCU Natural Gas and Energy workers provide day-to-day services throughout the community.
LCU's dedication to employee safety has not gone unnoticed, as the company was awarded the 2022 Safety Management Excellence Award in July at the American Public Gas Association (APGA) Annual Conference. As the winner, LCU was invited to speak at the 2023 APGA Operations Conference in Savannah, Georgia, where Deputy Director of Natural Gas and Energy Lucio Garcia, P.E., CEM shared the company's unique hands-on approach to safety training. These efforts have helped keep the citizens of Las Cruces safe as LCU workers provide essential services to the community.
“We work in one of the safest industries when it comes to rules, regulations, and reporting that we must do daily,” Garcia stated. “It is an honor that our safety procedures were recognized with an award at this level and invited to talk in front of other municipalities that have high safety practices already in place,” Garcia pointed out.
During a 45-minute presentation, Garcia walked through all procedures that LCU has implemented and introduced the conference to the many facilities LCU runs. One program in particular sparked many questions from the audience. LCU trains through a program called Knowledge, Skills, and Ability (KSA). This training was developed from the Operator Qualification (OQ) program. In the integration to KSA, every training is now a full course for each training that takes place.
The major difference in this new training program is the abilities test that must take place with each course. “It is important to us that our employees are able to demonstrate their physical abilities during their trainings because it is very easy to lose reflexes from not always having to use them,” Garcia stated. Other sections of this program require attendees to pass a knowledge section with a 100%. The knowledge part of KSA is pure training and testing. The skills section of KSA is the hands-on proficiency to prove what was learned in the knowledge portion.
“Being able to provide this level of safety and training such as KSA would not be possible without leadership that is willing to put forth the proper budget needed to develop these programs,” Garcia pointed out. Receiving these types of awards and being able to speak at conferences to help educate other safety leaders in the industry speaks volumes to the dedication LCU has for not only their staff’s safety, but to the safety of all LCU service areas.
Looking into the future, LCU has two main goals to achieve when it comes to safety. “It is important that we not only continue to work to improve our safety practices and training, but we must also continue to stay on top of the industry and keep this momentum moving forward,” Garcia concluded.
LCU – Your Utility Connection. Customer Central can be reached at 575-541-2111 from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides clean, safe, and reliable services to Las Cruces residents and businesses. Learn more at: las-cruces.org/180/Utilities. For emergencies, call Dispatch at 526-0500.
PHOTO 1: LCU team members during a KSA training course-Courtesy LCU