Keeping a Checklist on Safety

Source: American Gas (12/07) Vol. 89, No. 10, P. 19

Posted on: 12/28/2007

Audits are among the most effective ways natural gas utilities can pinpoint potential hazards and find solutions. We Energies understands the correlation between audits and performance.

In Fall 2006, the utility launched a new field safety audit program to search for new ways to improve its service performance. The program concentrated on five major areas: work management, crew preparedness, post-job customer relations, jobsite equipment inspection and job briefing. The purpose of We Energies' employee audits is to identify patterns of behavior that pose a safety threat so that solutions can be developed and shared.

Service is graded on a zero to five scale that divided compliance measures into percentages. A grade of two or less results in an action plan being deployed, and a subsequent re-audit of the crew after remedial training. Pat Fischer, CSP, supervisor of health and safety, attests that audits can be used for many purposes. "A safety audit is certainly an opportunity to seek possible improvements, but the results of a safety audit can also help to benchmark best practices," Fischer said. Enbridge Gas Distribution in Canada used its Supervisors Safety Inspections program for a similar purpose.

The program calls for supervisors and managers to conduct an inspection of employee work areas or in-depth discussions about the safety hazards and environmental risks their jobs carry at least once every quarter. The objective of the program is for management and staff to maintain an open dialogue so that awareness over safety-related concerns about workers' day-to-day activities is raised, resulting in improved workplace safety.