SAFETY CORNER – Virtual Tailgate Talk a Success

Scotty MacNeill, Safety Director

Members of the UWUA National Safety Committee, led by Safety Director Scotty MacNeill, held the first-ever online Tailgate Talk, September 2. Livestreamed on Facebook, Safety Committee members spoke about why safety factors into every decision they make on the job. Panelists also answered questions about staying safe at work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pictured: National Safety Committee participants in the virtual, “Tailgate Talk”: UWUA Safety Director Scotty MacNeill; Will Breton, Region IV rep; Jim Davis, chairman, gas subcommittee; Kevin Uraine, chairman, water subcommittee; Brian Hannon, chairman, electric subcommittee; Vincent Vales, Region I rep; and Cliff Deem, Region III rep. To watch the Tailgate Talk, visit the UWUA’s Facebook page.

“I don’t want to just check the box on the company safety training and just walk out of that room not knowing anything,” said Kevin Uraine, a Local 283 member and California Water’s P4A safety advocate for the state’s southern region. “We want to dictate safety for ourselves, as a union, and not have the company always telling us what to do,” Uraine said.

Earlier this year, National Safety Committee Rep. Will Breton, who participated in the Tailgate Talk, helped save the life of a little boy. He said the daily virtual tailboard he has with his co-workers at Consumers Energy helped him stay focused. “Until this happened, I really hadn’t bought into the virtual tailboard, I thought it was a waste of time,” he said. “But after going through this, my mind has changed big time. It’s about being alert to your surroundings and putting yourself in the best possible position to help somebody in need out. Luckily for me, I was able to draw on this tool. I will never doubt it again.”

“My commitment is to keep all of our sisters and brothers in good or better shape than we showed up to work,” said Cliff Deem, Local 425 president. “On March 29, 2016, 28-year old Alex Marcotte, was fatally injured in an excavation cave-in. He was from UWUA Local 428, one of my sister locals in northeast Ohio. Alex’s widow and three orphan daughters are what made me stand up and fight like never before for an Aqua Ohio Safety Committee. With the help of Senior National Rep. Rich Cossell and our National Safety Director Scotty MacNeill, we saw this come to fruition,” Deem said.

The virtual event was the latest in a number of actions the Safety Committee has taken to educate and advocate for member safety during the unprecedented time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UWUA also weighed in on Virginia’s emergency temporary OSHA standard to protect workers from COVID-19. UWUA comments were added and the rule is now being implemented. The union is now doing the same in Oregon, on the west coast.

For the latest federal and industry tools to support members performing work during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit the COVID-19 resource page on the National Union’s website –

Hierarchy Of Controls

The Hierarchy of Controls can be used to avoid the virus, a deadly hazard that cannot be seen, as well as other jobsite hazards. The idea behind this hierarchy is that the control methods at the top of the graphic are potentially more effective and protective than those at the bottom. Following this hierarchy normally leads to the implementation of inherently safer systems, where the risk of illness or injury has been substantially reduced.