The Montana Renewable Energy Association is committed to promoting safe practices among Montana’s renewable energy installers. To this end, we have developed a strategic partnership with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), and we have worked with NorthWestern Energy to establish free safety trainings available to installers throughout the state. In addition, in September 2012 the MREA Board of Directors adopted a Safety Statement describing its expectations of all MREA member installers with regard to safety.
For more information about MREA’s safety policy and programs, continue reading below.
Upcoming Safety Trainings
Information about upcoming safety trainings will be posted here when available.
MREA Safety Statement
The Montana Renewable Energy Association is dedicated to expanding the use of renewable energy across the state of Montana. Greater adoption of renewable energy technologies by the public requires a well-trained workforce; without trained individuals using best practices in the field to produce code-compliant installations, renewable energy systems are bound to perform poorly and/or become a hazard to the property and its occupants. Of equal importance is the need for this workforce to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety regulations for the construction industry. Non-compliance with OSHA safety standards on the jobsite can result in business-ending fines, life-altering injuries, and even death – all of which represent a step backward for the renewable energy industry and the broader adoption of its technologies. For these reasons, in late 2007 the MREA created a Safety Committee, and its first accomplishment was to establish a strategic partnership with local OSHA officials in order to provide MREA members with the best information on safety available for the development of their internal safety programs. Additionally, in conjunction with NorthWestern Energy officials, the MREA Safety Committee worked to establish an annual series of safety trainings held at various locations around the state, free of charge and open to all Montana renewable energy installers.
Vested in safety as the MREA is, the organization and its Board of Directors expects each of its member companies to seek regular safety training in the areas of the four major occupational hazards as defined by OSHA: falls, electrical shock, caught-by/in-between, and struck-by hazards. First aid and CPR training is also expected of MREA member companies so that they are fully prepared to respond to an accident. Further, the MREA and its Board of Directors expects all of its member companies to comply with OSHA safety standards and regulations while performing work in the field, which includes the use of OSHA-certified personal protective equipment such as roof anchors, ropes, and harnesses for fall protection and gloves and eyewear for protection from electrical shocks and arc-flash burns.
Lastly, since MREA member companies are expected to represent the organization as one that is committed to safety by complying with OSHA safety standards in the field, it follows that MREA members are to publish only OSHA-compliant installation photographs to the web, newspapers, magazines, and other public media. It is of critical importance to the MREA and its Board of Directors that the public perception of MREA member companies is one of great respect for their commitment to excellence not only in the areas of work quality and customer service, but also, and most importantly, safety.
Should member companies or their employees demonstrate non-compliance with this Safety Statement, they may receive a written warning from the organization’s Board of Directors. Continued acts of non-compliance by a member company may lead the Board of Directors to revoke its membership, as authorized by the bylaws of the organization.
Adopted September 27, 2012 by the MREA Board of Directors
Conor Darby, President
Ben Reed, Vice President
Dave Ryan, Secretary
Patrick Judge, Treasurer
Pictured are Ross Yeager, Director of the OSHA Billings Office, Christopher Borton of Sage Mountain Center (Vice President of MREA), Tom Bishop of SUNELCO, Conor Darby of Independent Power Systems, Steven Aagenes of In-Solar, Orion Thornton of Independent Power Systems, and David Ryan of NCAT (President of MREA).
In January 2008, The Montana Renewable Energy Association and the US Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration executed a Strategic Partnership Agreement to ensure workplace safety in the growing renewable energy industry in Montana. The MREA is attempting to foster a safer working environment for themselves and their member companies.
The purpose of the partnership is to prevent the four major hazards (falls, electrical, caught in/between and struck-by hazards) that account for the majority of fatalities and injuries in the construction industry. This partnership will focus on improving the safety and health programs of the MREA and their Participating Member companies and strive to eliminate hazards in the targeted areas.
The OSHA Strategic Partnership Program for Worker Safety and Health (OSPP), adopted on November 13, 1998, is an expansion and formalization of OSHA’s substantial experience with voluntary programs. In a Partnership, OSHA enters into an extended, voluntary, cooperative relationship with groups of employers, employees, and employee representatives (in this case the Montana Renewable Energy Association) in order to encourage, assist, and recognize their efforts to eliminate serious hazards and achieve a high level of worker safety and health. This is the first such partnership between OSHA and a renewable energy advocacy group.
“We are delighted to form this partnership with OSHA” said David Ryan, President of the MREA after signing the agreement. “This agreement is a great step toward thedevelopment of renewable energy in Montana, showing our commitment to energy independence and to bringing clean energy to Montanans.”
“The OSHA Strategic Partnership Program moves away from traditional enforcement methods and embraces collaborative agreements. Through OSPP, OSHA and its partners agree to work cooperatively to address critical safety and health issues. This very different approach is proving to be an effective tool for reducing fatalities, injuries, and illnesses in the workplace” said Ross Yeager, Billings area director of OSHA.