October 30, 2016
By Deirdre O’Neill
Ashtabula County, OH – Innovators: Tapping into Public Employee Potential ODOT District 4 mechanics from Ashtabula County, Tim Wood (left) and Tim Rogers, are innovators who thought outside the box to develop a snow- and ice-free truck step that has virtually eliminated slips and falls for ODOT snowplow drivers in their county.
Public employees are proud of the services they provide. They want to do their jobs and do them well. They want to improve their work and processes, bring safety to their jobs, and have a voice and integrity in the workplace – all union values.
Team Up ODOT, a 20-year labor and management tradition, is a prime example. When the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA) and management work together great things happen. Workers are safer, public work is more efficient and taxpayers win. The annual event spotlights innovation and process improvement and awards employees for giving back and working hard.
When Ohio Department of Transportation mechanics (and OCSEA members) Tim Wood and Tim Rodgers from Ashtabula County faced an ice hazard during the harsh winter months, they thought outside the box. They created a heated truck cab step to help improve safety for drivers exiting and entering the trucks. A buildup of snow and ice while plowing had resulted in numerous slips and falls.
What was the simple solution to this dangerous problem? The mechanics added a heat exchanger to the bottom of the step using coolant from the engine as a heat source. With the support of their manager, they worked to make the innovation a reality for just over $300 per truck, a drop in the government bucket. With no more snow and ice build up, the slip hazard has virtually been eliminated in the county.
“It’s innovators like these men who are proof that public employees do it well and they do it best,” said OCSEA President Christopher Mabe, also an AFSCME International vice president. “We must build upon the connection that public employee values ARE union values. It is this common thread that will mean the preservation of good jobs, the middle class and the American dream.”