Safety Hero

Perspective is Everything For Safety Hero

Safety Hero Provides Customer Service Perspective on Best Practices

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Our latest Safety Hero, hailing from Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, provides a perspective on safety that stands out from the rest of our recent recipients.

Now in her thirteenth year at the district, Julie Stuck works as a customer service specialist. This role allows her to view safety and security through the perspective of her customers and customer interactions.

Stuck was nominated by her Safety Coordinator, Daniel Siebert, who has consistently been impressed by her initiative, ability to identify the risks of customer service, and the work she has done with teammates.

“[The] first thing that stuck out was her commitment to bettering the safety culture,” Siebert said. “[Stuck] has really brought our administration and customer service aspect of operations into more light in regard to safety.”

Before her tenure, Julie worked as an educator, a role that lent itself naturally to her current position.

According to Julie, regardless of whether she is in the classroom or in the district’s headquarters in Vail, building safety and security is a big responsibility.

“This position was a natural fit,” she said.

For the last ten years, Stuck has been an integral part of the district’s safety committee. She represents the district’s customer service department, which operates alongside the district’s operational wing—including water, wastewater, and field operations—to discuss safety, upcoming projects, and new ideas.

The committee currently has 15 members and meets once a month.

“Safety is a team effort. We want to ensure the safety of the staff, the building, and the customers,” Stuck said. “The ultimate goal is to raise awareness of our surroundings and to be able to recognize the things that can go wrong.”

The committee also makes an effort to team up with local groups to provide a variety of trainings.

Recently, Eagle River received fire extinguisher training from the local fire department. That same group helped orchestrate an incident command system overview training. District employees have also attended an active shooter training put on by Avon Police Department.

Outside of her work on the safety committee, Stuck has been involved in monthly discussions known as “Tool Box Talks.” These are geared toward teammates and deal with the prevention of workplace injury, ergonomics, and emergency preparedness, among other topics.

“I get my team members involved through these monthly talks,” Stuck explained. “In the summer, we did one on sun safety. This winter, one will be on slips, trips, and falls.”

Even between meetings and discussions, Stuck is integral to the efficacy of their safety and training programs.

Recently, she has been able to keep staff interest high and has succeeded in getting meter technicians involved in updating the district’s policy about interacting with customers in the field.

“When there’s openings on the safety committee, she is very instrumental in getting teammates to join,” Siebert said.

Although Julie has been a part of the organization for some time, there remains a constantly evolving focus of how the district approaches safety.

“When I joined ten years ago, the safety conversations primarily focused on risks the staff faced in the field and at the plants,” Stuck said. “I felt it was important to also acknowledge the risks that our administrative staff face that are not as visible.”

With a customer service perspective, Stuck was specifically concerned about the safety concerns in the customer-facing side of the district.

“Safety and security is really intertwined with everything I do with my workload,” Stuck said. “From keeping customers’ information secure by adhering to red flag rules, to management of construction accounts for compliance with district and regulatory requirements in order to ensure safe water and wastewater services to the community.”

For Stuck, everything she does in customer service has some kind of connection to safety and security. This is because the customer service department exists as the front line of communication between the district and its customers.

“When people have comments or feedback,” Siebert noted, “she takes that feedback and brings it up at the next safety committee.”

Beyond how customers experience and interact with Eagle River, Stuck has turned her attention to how the district receives visitors at their main offices.

Recently, Stuck identified risks facing the reception and lobby area. With concerns about the lack of a barrier between the employees and the visitors, Stuck has begun to revamp the front entryway to ensure greater security for staff.

In 2018, Stuck participated in the CSD Pool’s Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) using ISO 31000.  This training was instrumental in defining what security improvements and changes could be made at the district.

“I took the ERM model and used it to implement a new visitor management system.” Stuck said.

The need for this new system was discovered when the district decided not to fill their vacant receptionist position.

“All traffic was directed through customer service,” Stuck said. “We began to notice that we had unregistered visitors in the building, people were leaving the building without signing out and visitor badges weren’t being returned. The need for greater security and visitor management became priority.”

Now, the district utilizes a new software that takes on some of the tasks that a receptionist would be performing. People sign in through an iPad, and this in turn notifies the person being visited, prints out a badge, and recognizes recurring visitors.

The software used was extensively researched and found to be the easiest and most cost effective. But none of this would be possible if not for Stuck and the ERM training course.

“ERM was so helpful,” Stuck said. “It was so great to be able to have something in writing to present to the board of directors—that these are the risks we’re facing. We ranked those risks and came up with solutions. Having the hands-on training made the difference.”

Although Stuck has spent over a decade at the district, her role continues to grow and evolve, and she has proven to be an instrumental figure in the organization’s continued push to remain on the forefront of safety and security.

“She identifies risk really quick now and has a lot of initiative,” Siebert said. “Julie has helped recognize the risk of customer services.”

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