Posts from May 2019

Historic milestone: BNI marks 1,000 days without an on-the-job injury

Wednesday, May 29, 2019 3:46 PM 0

One thousand days equals 24,000 hours or 1,440,000 minutes. As of April 10, that’s how long BNI Coal has gone without an on-the-job injury that resulted in an employee missing time from work.

It’s believed to be the first time in BNI’s 90-year history that the company has achieved the 1,000-day milestone, and reflects the hard work and renewed commitment to safety following an accident in November 2013 that resulted in an employee losing a leg.

“This tremendous accomplishment reflects how employees strengthened their commitment to a Zero Injury safety culture,” said Wade Boeshans, president and general manager of BNI Energy. “We came together five years ago on the heels of John’s (Renaud) serious injuries, formed what we called the Safety Culture Team, and recommitted to Zero Injury.”

After Renaud’s accident, all employees participated in a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis regarding safety. That led to the formation of the Safety Culture Team that identified safety initiatives focused on training, hazard recognition, communications and accountability.

“This was a significant inflection point in the safety culture at BNI in which all employees demanded complete commitment, engagement and accountability for safety from themselves, their co-workers and the organization,” Boeshans said. “While I am pleased with the 1,000-day accomplishment as it reflects all the hard work we did, I am most proud of the team for changing the safety culture. Nearly half of BNI employees joined the organization in the last five years and were not part of the safety analysis or the Safety Culture Team, and yet the safety culture has transcended workforce transition. I couldn’t be prouder of our team and our organization for the courage and the commitment to change culture.”

BNI celebrated its achievement on April 11 with breakfast for first shift employees and lunch for second shift workers.

“This milestone is a true testament of our employees continued focus on not ‘just having to be safe’ but ‘wanting to be safe,’ ” said Jay Volk, health, safety and environmental services manager. “It is a huge part of what makes BNI successful.”

Mike Heger, operations manager, agrees.

“One thousand days without an LTA (lost time accident) is a very impressive accomplishment for an operation of our size,” Heger said. “This achievement is the direct result of a tremendously improved safety culture at BNI, coupled with a few modest improvements to our equipment and processes. I see this as a strong signal that our ultimate goal of Zero Injury is attainable and well within reach. Congratulations to the entire organization.”


Excavator operator Casey Leingang participates in recent self-descent training at BNI. The training teaches operators how to quickly and safely exit an excavator in case of an emergency that cuts off access to the regular exits.


A Kress coal hauler loaded with 240 tons of lignite from the Center Mine makes its way to the Milton R. Young Station, where it will be used to generate power. Nearly all the lignite coal mined by BNI is consumed at the Young station.


Wade Boeshans, BNI president and general manager, congratulates the BNI team for achieving 1,000 days without an on-the-job injury that resulted in an employee missing time from work. BNI celebrated the achievement with breakfast and lunch for employees.

ACE, BNI give $50,000 to North Dakota engineering program

Wednesday, May 29, 2019 3:31 PM 0

Donations from ALLETE Clean Energy and BNI Energy will help the University of Mary build a new School of Engineering.

ALLETE Clean Energy and BNI Energy each gave $25,000 toward the new home for the engineering school at the private Catholic university in Bismarck, North Dakota. The University of Mary broke ground April 25 on the $12 million project, an aggressive renovation of the university’s old North Dining Hall. Currently, engineering classes are scattered across the campus.

“BNI and ACE are proud to partner to provide a collective $50,000 donation toward this important workforce development resource,” said ALLETE Clean Energy President Al Rudeck who attended the groundbreaking on behalf of ALLETE.

The university’s engineering program began enrolling students in 2016, when the program was created in response to an increasing demand for engineers, especially in the oil fields of western North Dakota. Today, the university offers civil, mechanical and electrical engineering and expects to have about 120 students enrolled this fall. The program graduated its first student in April.

BNI President and General Manager Wade Boeshans said the donation is a reflection of ALLETE’s commitment to education and the importance of developing a skilled workforce.

“Workforce demands in North Dakota and the region continue to grow, and we’re honored to play a part in helping the University of Mary educate the next generation of engineers, fill a workforce shortage and support a healthy economy,” Boeshans said.


University of Mary President MonsignorJames Shea and ALLETE Clean Energy President Al Rudeck at the groundbreaking ceremony in April for the university’s engineering school.    

                                                                                                  Wade Boeshans