Our Journey to Zero injuries is not just a slogan or a program. It’s an Xcel Energy core value and a commitment that all employees will return home from work injury free every day. Given the nature of our business, our employees face numerous hazards while performing their jobs. Through the work of our safety committees, company policies, training and ongoing awareness campaigns, we continue to instill a culture that values safety as a top priority.
We’ve come a long way on our journey so far, improving our safety performance by 58 percent from 2009 to 2017. After experiencing a minor uptick in injuries in 2016, we rebounded with our best year ever for safety, finishing 2017 with the fewest number of injuries in our history.
Unfortunately, we also experienced some serious injuries in 2017. In response, we introduced a Safety Leadership Training program for all at-risk employees and made several other program changes to help reduce the potential for these life-changing incidents.
Xcel Energy’s Journey to Zero injuries is about creating a safer work environment by putting safety at the forefront of everything we do. Starting with top leadership, we continue to actively demonstrate support for safety throughout the organization. We strive to advance a safety culture through strategic behavioral safety programs and initiatives that encourage employees to take personal responsibility for their safety and the safety of others.
To accomplish this, we have specific business-area safety plans that focus on four aspects:
Leadership effectiveness. Line of sight to executive levels, expectation setting and participation in safety leadership at all levels (including foremen and crew leaders)
Employee engagement. Taking responsibility for personal safety and the safety of crews, maximizing impact of safety teams and ensuring employees are engaged, effective and working together
Incident prevention. Providing the right personal protective equipment, increasing awareness, communication and safety messages, taking a proactive approach, outlining medical management and leveraging information, learning and insights.
Bargaining unit engagement. Engaging union leadership to be active in safety programs and improvements.
We entered into the eighth year of this ambitious effort in 2017 and continue to realize significant progress, having improved our safety performance 58 percent. But, as the name of our effort implies, we won’t be satisfied until we reach 100 percent, when all employees go home injury free.
Xcel Energy recorded 102 OSHA recordable injuries in 2017, 19 fewer than in 2016. Strains and sprains continue to be the leading injury type, resulting in approximately 41 percent of all injuries and illnesses on an annual basis. Lacerations, fractures and foreign bodies in the eye are the next most frequent injury types. We track safety performance of 335 workgroups, and of those groups, 77 percent have gone one year or more without an OSHA recordable injury.
In 2017, we also recorded 54 injuries classified as Days Away, Restricted and Transferred or DART— 14 fewer than occurred in 2016. These are incidents in which there are one or more lost days, or one or more restricted days, or one that resulted in an employee transferring to a different job within the company. Fortunately, there were no fatalities among Xcel Energy employees and contractors in 2017.
All contract employees receive safety training from their employers as a requirement of working with Xcel Energy. Job briefings and job-site safety reviews occur daily. In 2017, our contractors recorded 33 injuries, nearly half of the 62 experienced in 2016, while working more than five million hours.
We have 21 corporate safety policies in place to address occupational safety and health issues. These policies apply to all Xcel Energy bargaining and non-bargaining unit employees, as well as contractors, as applicable. Our policies cover a wide range of topics — from working in confined and enclosed spaces to preparing for and responding to emergency situations.
As part of our corporate values, and to protect our employees and the public, working safely is the first consideration while planning or performing work. It’s the role of Xcel Energy management to foster, develop, implement and provide training and communication about safety programs that will help reduce occupational injuries and illnesses at work. We expect employees to report unsafe acts, behaviors or conditions to management in a timely manner so that we may address these safety concerns. Any retaliation against an employee who, in good faith, reports a safety violation or suspected violation is strictly prohibited.
The Corporate Safety, Field and Energy Supply Safety and Training, and Contractor Safety departments — all under the leadership of the vice president of Safety and Workforce Relations — are responsible for overseeing implementation of regulatory compliance, providing technical consultation to business areas, tracking and communicating the company's safety performance, and fostering our safety philosophy and core value.
There are three key components to our safety and health culture that include:
Communication. Within each business area, we verify that OSHA-required written programs are current and maintained at our facilities. Employees must be thoroughly briefed on site-specific hazards and protective measures prior to starting any job at an Xcel Energy operating facility or on electric and natural gas transmission and distribution lines and equipment. Finally, we establish a system of hazard analysis, which includes hazard identification and control in each business area, and we communicate this system to all affected employees.
We provide effective safety and health communications in various formats, including verbal instructions, written documents and posters, safety committee meetings and multimedia presentations, such as video and computer-based training. Through these various media, all employees have access to required safety and health training, policies, programs and safety manuals, as well as federal or state required communications. All Xcel Energy employees are expected to actively participate in the company's safety and health training and communications program.
We continued a number of important safety campaigns in 2017, while also launching new initiatives to help keep employees safe.
Our 24/7 Safety campaigns focus on maintaining a safety mindset around the clock, helping employees to be safe both on and off the job. We provide home safety information through several avenues, such as our weekly Safety News and employee news magazine. 2017 campaigns focused on concussions and avoiding line-of-fire hazards, such as lawnmower blades, chemical releases and suspended bicycles.
After several serious incidents in 2017, our leadership began requiring field supervisors and managers to complete three comprehensive safety observations per week and document their findings. By increasing the frequency and formality of field-crew observations, supervisors have more opportunity to intervene when safe work practices are not followed, as well as to offer coaching and reinforce appropriate behaviors in the field.
Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs or strains and sprains and cumulative trauma disorders) are the leading type of injury at Xcel Energy, with sprains and strains representing more than 41 percent of our injuries. Several Ergonomics Training modules were initiated in 2017 to help improve this including:
One of the most important things we do is to complete thorough job briefings with employees working on projects. We have improved the quality of our job briefings with some additional tools to assist foremen and managers.
More than one quarter of all injuries to Xcel Energy employees in 2016 were line-of-fire injuries. To increase awareness about recognizing line-of-fire hazards, a special campaign was launched in 2017. Materials were released quarterly in the weekly Safety News email and on the company’s intranet site addressing hazards that result in injuries where people are caught between, caught in or struck by objects or equipment.
Sharing near misses with coworkers provides a learning opportunity that can prevent similar situations in the future. To encourage employees to share their stories, we decided in 2017 not to pursue discipline for employees who turn in near misses. While individuals were rarely disciplined after near miss submissions in the past, the policy change completely removes this barrier to sharing.
To help reduce serious life-changing incidents, the Safety Leadership Training program was introduced in 2017 for all at-risk employees. The program is designed to transform how employees view their role in safety because everyone is a leader when it comes to safety. The employee-driven curriculum reviews the company’s Rules to Live By and Safety Intervention and Stop Work responsibility, while also identifying barriers to using them and tactics for removing those barriers.
The Safety News continues to be an effective tool for educating and informing employees about current safety topics. The publication provides all employees with weekly safety information and near miss reviews, as well as findings and lessons learned from accident investigations.
The Xcel Energy Life Sustaining Awards are given to employees who go beyond the call of duty and save, or attempt to save, the life of another.
|Daniel Dines||C&I Billing Analyst||Roseville, MN|
|Barbara Fox-Wong||Customer Contact Center Rep.||Roseville, MN|
|Anthony Hernandez||Apprentice Control Specialist||Keenesburg, CO|
|Andy Olson||Maintenance Repairman Technician||Chippewa Falls, WI|
|Valerie Phelps||Associate Call Center Agent||Eau Claire, WI|
|Al Powers||Sr. Technical Instructor||Denver, CO|
|Corey Youso||Electrician Journeyman||Amarillo, TX|
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