For the third time in a row, Madison Dam will be certifying for OSHA’S star program, the Voluntary Protection Program.
Northwestern Energy’s hydro superintendent, Jeremy Butcher, explains how the site has been exceeding safety standards for 15 years to earn this title.
"That’s what VPP is all about. It’s about continuous improvement, it’s about ownership of the employees and the commitment from the company," he said.
But the dam’s history stretches back to 1901, with over a century of workers committed to maintaining the structure.
"Even as crew members cycle in and out, the value and the tradition that these folks have is passed down to the new crew members," said John Hines, VP of Energy Supply at Northwestern Energy.
Workers live and work in the canyon, managing the powerhouse and equipment that provide local communities with hydroelectric energy and recreation.
"The work that this group does at Madison dam really actually adds a tremendous amount of value to Montana. Value that I don’t think is fully recognized by folks," said Hines.
Over the years, its canyon location has caused several issues from freezing temperatures to rockslides.
Despite these challenges, Madison Dam has remained a star worksite for safety, continuously upgrading their standards.
"Plant employees get together and they meet with their safety professionals, and they say, ‘What are our hazards here, what are our biggest issues that we need to manage?’ and they make a list, and they get after them," said Butcher.