It's been 56 years since natural gas began flowing through the Viking pipeline from the Canadian Rockies to the Chicago market area, reminded Greg Lindblom, director, pipeline operations, in Eagan, Minnesota.
Two teams were formed to operate and maintain the pipeline and compressors: one in Humboldt, Minnesota, the other in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.
"Since October 17, 1960, there has never been a lost-time accident or injury at either of these two locations," said Lindblom. "That is 56 years of employees focusing on what they are doing and watching out for one another, and that is an outstanding accomplishment."
For a little perspective, consider that nearly 80 percent of our employees were born after 1960 – literal lifetimes free of any lost-time incidents.
"It is fantastic that each of you has contributed to this amazing record for the life of a facility," Wes Dunbar, vice president, natural gas pipeline operations, told employees. "I thank each of you for your commitment to all of our key drivers and our safety culture."
In 1967, an expansion project on the Viking pipeline led to the building of five more manned compressor stations. One of those new compressor stations was built in Frazee, Minnesota, and began service on November 1, 1967.
"The team of employees who were assigned to work at the Frazee station, plus everyone who has worked there since, also has never experienced a lost-time accident or injury," Lindblom said.
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, the teams had up to 12, even 15 employees assigned to work at the stations. Currently, there are three employees at Humboldt, and four each at Frazee and Chippewa Falls.
"I have never been able to find enough evidence to estimate how many man hours that totals up to working without a lost-time accident or injury," Lindblom said. "But it does total 161 years that the employees who have worked on these teams have worked safely while watching out for one another."
The safety culture of the original employees at each of the three stations was very similar to the safety culture we have today, he pointed out.
"We always have been committed to having a strong safety culture, and that strong safety culture continues today," continued Lindblom. "The employees of 2016 realize they have a safety tradition to continue what was started in 1960 on the Viking pipeline. The Humboldt and Chippewa Falls teams continue to set the bar high and lead by example. Congratulations on carrying on a strong safety culture from past employees and making sure every employee ends each day as healthy and safe as they started it!"