During the iP Utility Safety Conference & Expo held this November in Costa Mesa, Calif., representatives from the Utility Safety & Ops Leadership Network presented the 2014 Carolyn Alkire Safety Advocate Award to John Morton, CUSP, of Willbros Utility T&D.
The Carolyn Alkire Safety Advocate Award honors Carolyn Alkire, a 40-year employee of San Diego Gas & Electric and a partner in safety to the U.S. electric utility industry. Alkire passed away on July 11, 2008. She was active in a variety of industry groups including iP safety conferences, the Inter-Utility Overhead Training Association, Western Underground and the Institute for Safety in Powerline Construction.
Morton was chosen to receive this award because he has been a valuable supporter of the USOLN from the very beginning, according to Carla Housh, USOLN executive director and publisher of Incident Prevention magazine. “John is a member of the USOLN’s board of directors and actually sat for the Certified Utility Safety Professional exam when it was first offered at our safety conference in Denver in 2010,” she said. “Much like Carolyn Alkire, John works very hard to maintain a strong safety culture for his employer. He is dedicated to making sure all Willbros employees go home to their families each day.”
Morton began his career in the electrical industry in 1970 for Houston Lighting and Power, now known as CenterPoint Energy, and in 1997 he accepted a position at Texas A&M University’s extension service as a trainer for the electric and communication industry. In 2004 Morton became director of safety and training for Willbros T&D Services in Texas, where he was instrumental in writing the company’s safety standard and implementing a Department of Labor-approved apprenticeship training program that has been recognized by the Texas Veterans Commission. In September of this year, Morton was named director of HSE for Willbros Utility T&D, one of four segments within Willbros Group that is specifically aligned with the utility industry. The segment has components in Vermont, Maryland, Virginia, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Florida. Morton is also a voting member of ASTM International Committee F18 on Electrical Protective Equipment for Workers.
When asked how he felt about receiving the award, Morton said he was “surprised and humbled. First and foremost, I want to thank the awards committee. This is a huge standard and responsibility to maintain, and I will do my best to ensure that my actions and activities continue to show honor and respect for Carolyn, the USOLN, Willbros, and for all of the people that it is my honor and pleasure to interact with on a regular basis. Honesty, character and ethics should be a part of every safety professional’s life, and I will do all in my power to inspire others to strive for excellence and the safety of all employees everywhere.”
When he’s not working, Morton and Yvonne, his wife of 45 years, spend as much time as possible with their children and grandchildren. They also enjoy fishing, hunting and going on cruises whenever opportunities present themselves.