Transforming Safety & Health
Nothing takes higher priority at AEP than the safety and health of our employees, contractors and the public. We have made good progress during the past decade, but we have yet to achieve our goal of Zero Harm.
Following a company-wide evaluation of our safety and health culture in 2015, we launched a five-year journey to shift our approach to safety and health.
We have shifted our approach to safety and health by focusing on engagement, accountability, proactive hazard identification and correction, and continuous improvement. As a result, we have established several programs and activities that serve as the foundation for our safety and health transformation. These include:
Good Catch Program
The Good Catch program encourages employees to proactively share information about unsafe conditions or events where there was no resulting harm or damage. Through the program, situations are reported and corrected, and learnings are communicated throughout the organization. In 2017, more than 4,000 Good Catches were reported, compared with 2,809 in 2016.
This year, through ongoing continuous improvement programs, measures were devel¬oped to assess and improve the quality of Good Catches so that we share lessons learned across AEP. The data also is being used to identify areas where we need to improve our recognition of hazards, such as slips, trips, falls, sprains and strains and stepping in holes (STFSS). STFSS accounted for more than 50 percent of all Days Away/Restricted or Job Transferred (DART) cases but only a small percentage of Good Catches in 2017. One opportu¬nity to reduce STFSS events is to identify and report hazards related to these issues.
Shadow of the Leader – CORE Visit Training
A CORE visit is a leadership tool that can be used to assess a variety of activities. CORE stands for Coaching through Observation, Recognition and Engagement. The visits connect employees with their leaders in a two-way dialogue to improve engagement and performance. Even though safety and health is the focus, the interactions can include discussions on continuous improvement, work expectations and opportunities to develop standard work. Expanding the discussion has been particularly helpful in low-risk work environments. This provides leaders with more ways to build trust and engage with their team members. More than 3,500 leaders have participated in CORE visit training since 2016. In 2017, more than 4,300 CORE visits were documented.
Site Inspection Program
In 2016, following a fatal crash between a train and an AEP vehicle at a private rail crossing leading into one of our construction laydown yards, we began inspecting sites across our service territory in effort to identify potential safety hazards that could put the safety of our workforce at risk. More than 3,700 sites were inspected, which included substations, laydown yards, generation plants and office facilities.
As a result of this effort, more than 400 risk mitigation plans were developed for the highest-risk sites. These included physical projects, such as moving entrances or high-visibility barriers, and revised work practices, such as prohibiting left-hand turns onto busy streets and requiring smaller vehicles to arrive first to help direct larger vehicles into stations, or a combination of both. In 2018, we will continue implementing the plans and prioritize the next set of sites to receive mitigation.
Zero Harm means that everyone has the right to work in a healthy environment. AEP’s occupational health efforts have involved a number of initiatives to protect employees from exposure to chemical, physical and biological agents. Focus areas include respirable crystalline silica, ergonomics and heat-related illness.
Noise-induced hearing loss remains a challenge for AEP. Moving forward, industrial hygiene experts will begin increasing awareness of this issue. Individuals who work in loud environments will learn how to more effectively use their individual personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect their hearing by undergoing a hearing protector fit test. Fit testing provides measurable results and identifies opportunities for individual education.
Driving is a critical task for many people at AEP. On average, our employees collectively drive more than 91 million miles a year for work. In August 2017, AEP implemented a new Attentive Driving Policy, which prohibits the use of cellphones and hands-free devices while driving for company business. In addition, we refocused attention on the importance of seat belt use to saving lives. Both of these changes came from frontline employee recommendations during AEP’s driving summit in April 2017.
In 2018, we are starting to implement new telematics tech¬nology across our fleet to make operating vehicles safer for our employees and the general public. The information gathered from the technology will help improve driver skills and minimize hazards for employees. In addition to the safety benefits, the program will help to reduce fuel usage, vehicle maintenance and vehicle claims costs.
Communication & Engagement
In addition to CORE visits - Coaching through Observation, Recognition and Engagement – we are expanding the ways in which we communicate with our employees about safety and health. We have implemented several web-based communication platforms for instant and easily-accessible safety-related information. For example, a new safety and health dashboard on our internal website provides employees with instant information on Good Catches, DART events and other recordable events. We also created a private Facebook page where valuable safety and health information is shared and to recognize safe behaviors at work or home. Through the newly created Safety and Health Video Channel, valuable safety messages are shared monthly across AEP. The messages elevate awareness around AEP’s greatest safety challenges while featuring employees from across the company.
These efforts are a few examples of how AEP is working to build a learning-centric culture that focuses on communicating, learning and continuously improving so everyone goes home in the same or better condition than they came to work.