By Cassie McClure
Published in Las Cruces Bulletin 3.25.22
Organizational safety requires the ability to train staff and contractors, inspect workplaces and machinery, and investigate incidents. It also requires a dedication to building the awareness and culture of safety from the ground up. Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) is investing in employee and public safety with its first centralized safety coordinator, an addition to LCU’s strategic business plan for the upcoming fiscal year.
LCU Training Safety Coordinator Case Van Dyke has been with the City of Las Cruces (CLC) for nearly a decade but is returning to his safety roots. After a career in the Air Force, in which safety took up fifteen of his 23 years, Van Dyke grew more decades of safety experience with Boeing, NASA, Jacobs Engineering, and in the public sector.
“After the Challenger disaster happened, NASA wanted as many safety specialists at the Kennedy Space Center as possible,” said Van Dyke, who worked as a contractor for the safety of orbiter payloads.
In a search for a less humid climate, Van Dyke came to El Paso as a NASA site safety manager. After a stint in New Orleans, he looked back to the desert. “I made Las Cruces home but lasted about one year in actual retirement – then started working for the City as a safety officer,” he said.
He recalled a success for city workers was as simple as watching them in action. “I had a supervisor come to me to say that his crew kept having shoulder issues,” he said. “We walked through their routines and realized they were taking equipment out of the back of their truck beds, up and over the tailgate. Once we installed a sliding drawer in the truck bed, the injuries decreased.”
As he transitioned to LCU, his focus was on the certified training for natural gas employees and contractors. He is also working with contractors on-site and ensuring they have the proper certifications to work on public infrastructure. “At every organization, it’s important to create and enhance the culture and awareness of safety. This position, to consolidate all safety oversight for all areas, allows LCU to ensure that annual training is timely and tailored to the exact needs of different crews,” said Van Dyke.
“Our own safety officer and safety program has been a priority since I started as the LCU Assistant Director,” said LCU Director Delilah Walsh. “Case’s experience will lend a deep measure of security not only for our employees, but for the services that the public relies on as well.”
Van Dyke’s priorities include a deep dive into all the spaces and routines throughout LCU, walking through work areas to find the common “slip and fall” hazards.
“LCU training material will not be off the shelf but specific to the needs of the crews and our customers,” said Van Dyke. “It’s important to work with and trust those in the job. I want to make their day-to-day safer and, if possible, more efficient.”
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 Training Safety Coordinator Case Van Dyke is the first to consolidate the safety training for the entire utility.