Aiming For Zero Harm
We take past performance and forward-looking actions into account in measuring our safety performance. Our employee recordable incident rate (as defined by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration) for 2012 was 0.83, the best in company history. The year-end result was better than our target for the year of 0.97 and our 2011 performance of 1.00. Our employee severity rate last year was 19.24, also better than the target of 19.94 and our 2011 performance of 23.07. Severity days (lost work days and restricted activity days due to injury) declined from 4,193 in 2011 to 3,495 in 2012, a reduction of 17 percent.
Our 2012 statistics are particularly noteworthy because of the extreme weather conditions our employees in the field faced fairly frequently, as well as the distraction of job security concerns stemming from the repositioning study. The target recordable rate is 0.94 for 2013 and the corresponding target severity rate is 18.64. By setting these goals each year, we get closer and closer to zero harm.
In 2011, we established our second five-year Path to Excellence, demonstrating our commitment to continuous safety improvement and our goal of achieving top-decile performance among our peers by 2016. Our first Path to Excellence was pegged toward attaining top-quartile performance, and we came very close to reaching our goal. Annual safety and health performance is a factor in employees’ incentive compensation, reinforcing that it is key to our values and culture and underscoring employees’ accountability.
Injuries that most commonly result in lost work days continue to be slips, trips, falls and being struck by objects. Overexertion events also increased in 2012, in large part because of the record or near-record heat that scorched much of our service territory in the first half of the summer. A heat safety program was developed and implemented in our Distribution business unit last summer to address these concerns.
Focusing on zero harm goes beyond trying to meet or exceed OSHA standards. Many initiatives and procedures are in place to help us be proactive. Job Hazard Assessments, our Uniform Event Analysis process and Human Performance initiative – combined with an evolving safety and health event management system to track and trend performance – have contributed to our improved performance. We are constantly seeking new ways to continually improve our performance. Today, we share details about injuries and the measures employees have taken to prevent harm across AEP. Our Significant Event Call process elevates serious events to expedite system-wide sharing, analysis and mitigation.
Pilot programs last summer in our distribution operations groups across AEP explored the use of smart phones to record and disseminate information from job site observations. This allowed our employees in the field to more quickly and easily share information with other work groups in other locations. The experience and successes gained through the pilot has led to an effort to implement and expand an electronic Job Site Observation (eJSO) process throughout distribution and transmission field areas.
Identifying potential hazards and preventing unintended events are central to reaching zero harm, but how management handles such events also is important. “Just Culture,” a structured approach to how employees are treated when unintended events occur, is used to determine where management systems failed. AEP is an early adopter of this concept, which helps leaders ensure fairness, consistency and shared accountability when performing this analysis. Basically, Just Culture is the opposite of a punitive culture that focuses on finding someone to blame rather than figuring out what happened and why it happened.