The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) works throughout the year to promote electrical safety at home and in the workplace but is most well-known for spearheading National Electrical Safety Month each May. The National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), which has representatives on the ESFI board of directors, applauds the foundation for all its efforts.

NECA also promotes electrical safety year-round. Working with other entities, such as ESFI, is one method for advancing this cause. We also continue to develop and implement new approaches to help improve electrical safety performance.

For example, during National Electrical Safety Month 2011, NECA is hosting the first Safety Professionals Conference, May 22–24 in Dallas—the only conference specifically created for safety professionals working in the electrical construction industry. We intend for it to become an annual event, like the observance ESFI administers, and we hope our allies in the promotion of electrical safety anticipate the conference as eagerly.

NECA designed the conference to offer multiple educational opportunities to safety professionals. The target audience is broad and diverse—safety directors, human resource professionals, project managers, risk managers and supervisors. NECA is aiming the conference at anyone who manages safety and health programs as part of the scope of their employment. The idea is to enable them to transform safety and health approaches within their companies.

The transformative power of education to help people do their jobs more effectively and take on more responsibilities is a topic I have discussed often in this column, so I’ll cite another recent example of what NECA is doing in this regard. It’s another professional development opportunity targeted at employees in electrical contracting firms, among others. I’m referring to the new Contractor 101 course.

As NECA Notes on page 121 explains, Contractor 101 is a new online program that answers the fundamental questions about what it takes to make it in the electrical contracting industry. It’s for contractors who are new to the industry or who are moving into new markets or new levels of responsibility as well as those who simply want to brush up on better business practices. It’s also good for training office staff in electrical contracting firms, electrical workers transitioning into management, and students considering careers in our industry. That’s practically everyone who has some connection to electrical construction!
That’s why Contractor 101 is open to everybody, regardless of NECA affiliation. This online course is available anywhere and anytime the student has Internet access, and it’s unquestionably affordable. I strongly urge you to look into it.

I also urge you to look into another professional development opportunity referenced in NECA Notes: the announcement of online registration for NECA 2011 San Diego opening June 14, 2011, at www.necaconvention.org. That’s what I call a mega opportunity!

While the NECA convention that is part of the upcoming program is exclusively for association members, the NECA Show and the educational sessions that go along with it welcome every participant in the electrical industry. NECA’s Convention/Exposition Executive Director Beth Ellis explained how your company can benefit by accepting this invitation: “NECA provides the best way for electrical contractors to learn about new products and services that can save time and money on the bottom line. The NECA Show is a unique type of classroom on a world-class scale. There is no other place where you can talk directly with manufacturers, test drive products, ask about customizations, and speak with R&D teams about your specific needs. All in one place at one time! Take advantage of the largest trade show in the industry, and find new solutions that can turn an average project into a more profitable one.”

Don’t your dedicated employees deserve to be part of this event? And don’t you deserve the advantage of having employees who are excited about our industry and their role in it and who are motivated to apply new knowledge and skills to help move your company forward?

The answers are obvious. I not only encourage owners and principles of electrical contracting firms to attend NECA 2011 San Diego. I also recommend that you motivate, reward and recognize your workers by bringing all the deserving ones with you!

As with the other professional development opportunities I mention in this column, it’s all about helping your employees be the best they can be, and that’s to everyone’s advantage. When you invest in your employees’ success, you invest in the long-term success of your company.