June is National Safety Month where we focus on reducing the leading causes of injury at work, on the road and in our homes and communities. According to the National Safety Council, nearly 11 American workers die each day on the job. I find these statistics appalling and unacceptable.
Even one serious injury on the job is one too many. When you consider the pain and suffering that a co-worker may experience and the impact on families, friends and the workplace, the more we look out for one another, the better off we will be.
At PSEG Fossil, we have a passion for safety and it shows.Over the years, we’ve learned that safety must be the number one priority for protecting our most valuable asset – our people. The bonus: excellent safety performance leads to excellent operational performance. You can’t have one without the other.
For several years, the organization I lead, PSEG Fossil, has been on a journey to establish a safety culture focused on protecting ourselves and one another – first and foremost. This is important in any industry but particularly in the electric industry where an inattention to safety can – and has – cost lives. Our journey began with the implementation of what we call the Fossil Operational Excellence Model. Embedded in that model are behaviors and processes to foster safe operations at our electric generating stations.
Through decades of experience, I know that consistent processes and procedures are essential to run a successful business and keep people safe. The same behaviors and tools that produce world-class safety lead to world-class operational results.
But that’s not enough. To foster a culture that always puts safety first, we had to get to the hearts and minds of all employees. It requires passion … a passion for safety each and every day on the job.
Partnering with our local safety councils, we emphasized that safety first is not just about watching out for yourself, but caring for and supporting each other as well. We sought solutions together with one goal in mind: protecting our people.
A “safety first” work culture focuses on employee well-being. Jobs can – and should — be stopped if conditions appear unsafe. Safety tools are consistently used. It also requires having safety paramount in every leader’s conversation, being open to every good idea to improve safety, and learning from safety incidents to prevent more serious events.
A self-critical eye is essential to fostering a safe work environment and protecting people. This hit home for me when an industrial-sized overhead door at one of our generating stations failed and came rolling down. We were fortunate that no one was hurt. In a self-critical culture, you don’t stop by fixing that one door or relying solely on the results of an annual inspection program which this failed door underwent. We immediately inspected similar doors throughout the fleet, identified other similar potential failures and took corrective action. Our goal is to create an environment free from the risk of injury through prevention.
Bringing a relentless passion to our health and safety commitment helped PSEG Fossil reduce safety incidents and improve performance. For the past two years, PSEG Fossil results have placed us in the top ten percent in the industry for safety and we recorded our lowest ever OSHA incident rate of 0.59 in 2014.
What struck me is that as safety improved within PSEG Fossil, year over year, we also excelled operationally. They go hand in hand.
Our journey to safety excellence will never end. Safety is a voyage of continuous improvement. We will continue to seek ways to reduce risks, improve our processes that foster a safe work environment and watch out for one another daily. Our ultimate goal is ZERO OSHA incidents forever.
Safety is our passion and we’re proud of it, and the results we have achieved.