Lineworker to safety coordinator: Michael Jones shares passion for protecting others

A core piece of Michael Jones’ job is to make sure employees are trained with skills they hope they never have to use. Jones serves as safety coordinator overseeing assets owned by the statewide organizations serving NC’s electric co-ops, specifically the North Carolina Electric Membership Corporation, the North Carolina Association of Electric Cooperatives and the Tarheel Electric Membership Association.

“I want safety plans to be second nature,” Jones said. “The more we train for emergency situations, the better prepared we are to respond in ways that are efficient, effective and safe.”

As a safety coordinator, Jones plays a key part in carrying out plans for evacuations and emergencies, as well as ensuring that employees are adhering to OSHA regulations, and keeping employees’ lifesaving skills such as CPR and AED training up to date.

While Jones’ role is focused on implementing emergency plans, he said his time as a lineworker is what instilled in him a passion for safety and taking care of others.

Safety with Local Roots

Jones’ introduction to the energy field started with underground contractor Utilicon, where he learned about the intricacies of underground power. Working in confined spaces such as trenches, he said he understood how important it is to not only do the job right but also in a safe manner.

Jones during his time as a lineworker with BEMC

In 2001, Jones joined Brunswick Electric, where he worked with both underground and overhead power. It was also at the coastal electric cooperative that Jones met Dana Mauldin, director of corporate safety, loss control and training at BEMC. Jones said Mauldin would become a mentor, sharing safety advice that he still remembers to this day.

“I learned a lot just from watching him,” Jones said. “He inspired me when it came to safety. I remember he would perform roles with BEMC employees such as checking the grounds, discussing near misses and leading CPR and AED training. It sparked something inside of me, where I realized this is what I want to do with my career.”

Jones said his passion grew beyond just lineworker safety, and he knew he wanted to transition into a career that protected people at every level of the cooperatives.

Expanded Impact

Although Jones left Brunswick Electric in 2007 to pursue other opportunities, he said he always knew he wanted to return to the cooperatives if the opportunity presented itself. In November, his wish came true as he joined the cooperatives’ statewide office as the safety coordinator.

Jones giving a safety briefing at Tideland EMC

“When I was at Brunswick, I felt like I was home,” Jones said. “That’s where I was born and raised, and working there was so fulfilling. So, when I had the opportunity to come back to the cooperatives, I thought it felt like I was coming back home. The minute I stepped through that door, I knew I had found what I was looking for.”

Jones said each step in his journey has taught him how important safety is in the workplace.

“During our lives, we’re all searching for something, we’re all seeking our purpose,” Jones said. “Coming back to the cooperatives, this was a part of my purpose being fulfilled. Working at the cooperative feels like you’re part of a family. When you’re with your family, you do all that you can to make sure they are safe.”