The Path Forward
Our commitment to continuous safety and health improvement and to our goal of achieving top-decile performance among our peers by 2016 is evidenced by our current five-year Path to Excellence, established in 2011. We track our performance and that of peer utilities through the voluntary Edison Electric Institute Annual Safety and Health Survey.
Our first five-year Path to Excellence aimed for top-quartile performance, and we came very close to meeting that goal. Annual safety and health performance is a factor in employees’ incentive compensation, emphasizing its role in our values and culture and employees’ accountability for it.
Our focus on zero harm means compliance with regulations is just a starting point. Various initiatives and procedures are designed to help us go beyond compliance, including Job Hazard Assessments, our Uniform Event Analysis process and the Human Performance Improvement Initiative. Sharing details of injuries and ways employees have avoided or prevented harm has helped us work more safely.
One step we took in 2013 to help combat our incident severity was the establishment of a Serious Injuries and Fatalities (SIF) rate. The SIF rate is an example of going beyond compliance to drive continuous improvement. The rate is calculated using the OSHA rate formula (the number of serious injuries and fatalities multiplied by 200,000 divided by total hours worked).
Measuring these events will help us focus more directly on the kinds of incidents that can cause life-altering injuries and fatalities and determine ways to prevent them in the future.
Last year, employees and contractors in Transmission and Distribution began using smart phones to record and disseminate safety- and health-related information from job site observations. This allows field employees to share information with other work groups more quickly and easily. In Transmission, a total of 5,161 job site observations were performed in 2013 via smart phone devices.
Also in our transmission business, a working group of employees from across AEP meets quarterly to identify and communicate lessons learned and best practices. This effort, called Grand Central Safety, encourages field employees to talk about their safety challenges and successes.
The risk of injury is present all the time. In our River Operations business, our employees spend a lot of time on the water. To minimize the water hazard risks, we began placing small transmitters on employee life jackets. The Overboard Recovery Communications Apparatus system will help us quickly locate someone who has fallen overboard. Although our goal is to never have a person overboard, this additional safety feature brings us to the highest standards of industry safety practices.
We have evidence that zero harm, while challenging, is achievable. Many AEP locations across our business units attained it in 2013.