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Safety Management Archive


Five Core Capacities for Sustainable Safety Excellence

Does your organization have the capacity to achieve sustainable excellence in safety performance and culture? For excellence to become a reality in any important area of operations, especially safety, there are five vital capacities that organizations must develop, monitor and synergize to adapt and thrive in a fast-paced and ever-changing world: system, leadership, engagement, cultural and strategic. Based on extensive cross-industry research and decades of experience leading change in all major industries, this article introduces the model titled “Five Core Capacities for Sustainable Safety Excellence.” System Capacity to Prevent and Recover For a long time, safety efforts primarily focused on preventing unwanted events and gave little…
Richardson April May 2024 article

An Experiment in Crew Member Engagement

I don’t talk about myself a lot – I listen. I developed this skill after taking on a leadership position with a utility contractor in an industry I knew nothing about. My work history prior to this role included management in pretty much every industry except utilities. In each of my previous jobs, I strived to learn and advance from an entry-level position. In this new position, I no longer had the advantage of knowing how the company ran from the ground up; I had to trust and depend on others to help me. It did not take me long to realize that safety is the most important priority in this industry. Lack of attention to the detail of safety can kill a lineworker and damage a company beyond repair. So, while you could say our company’s j…

Getting to the Heart of At-Risk Behaviors with Facilitative Learning

In a recent workshop with a client in southeast Louisiana, a breakout session reached a tipping point. The rhythmic flow of dialogue among the seven supervisors in the group found an unscripted but purposeful path of its own. The task given to the group involved identifying at-risk behaviors or shortcuts likely to occur in their work environment. Participants were also asked to discuss motives for the identified behaviors and strategies for shifting perspectives regarding them. The intent of the three-part exercise, which was deliberately constructed to achieve the resulting outcome, was to pull information from the collective experiences of those in the session needed to improve operational safety. My role in the process wasn’t to instr…

ESG: Health and Safety Obstacle or Opportunity?

Over the past few years, much has been written and discussed about the role of environmental, social and governance, commonly referred to as ESG. Investors and customers are increasingly applying these nonfinancial factors as part of their analysis process to identify material risks and growth opportunities in the companies they decide to invest in. According to research from the Weinreb Group, in publicly held U.S. companies, the position described as chief sustainability officer has grown from 29 such officers in 2011 to 183 in 2023 (see These are roles that typically sit in the C-suite of a company and have direct strategic decision-making responsibilities. Many health and safe…

Pattern Disruption: Don’t Start with ‘Why’

In the northern latitudes, Mother Nature is deeply vested in a cycle of pattern disruption. The four seasons change the ecosystems and habitats. As the seasons shift in New York, the lake that I live on moves from a warm thermocline with colder layers on the bottom and warmer water on top to the opposite. In the coldest months, the top of the lake freezes entirely. The ground freezes, too, while the monarch butterflies leave and many of the birds fly south. But even those pattern disruptions – the four seasons – become a rhythm, an expected ritual during which we trade lawnmowers for snowblowers and put away the outdoor furniture, only to reverse those actions when the weather becomes warm once again. You may already know that the human …

Safety and Innovation Lead the Way at San Diego Gas & Electric

| Kate Wade |
“Safety and innovation are one and the same.” That was among the opening remarks delivered by San Diego Gas & Electric personnel during the recent Safety Innovation Tour held at the utility’s Skills Training Center in the Serra Mesa neighborhood of the city. And certainly, SDG&E continues to focus on thinking and moving forward in ways that will help to bolster the safety of both their workers and the public. That was apparent throughout the tour – a highlight of the most recent iP Utility Safety Conference & Expo ( – during which nearly 100 conference attendees visited various stations at the training center intended to educate them about the cutting-edge facility and SDG&E’s public sa…
Keeling Dec 2023

The Health and Safety Plan: A Project Management Tool

A health and safety plan, or HASP, can be a valuable project management tool. It is a working document intended to help prevent workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths, as well as equipment and facility damage, by detailing the tasks involved in a project, identifying the project’s specific hazards and describing all mitigation procedures to be implemented. In this article, we will review some of the most important sections to be included in a HASP: hazard identification and controls; the general project work plan; emergency response; incident reporting; communications; regulatory compliance; and technical safety requirements. Hazard Identification and Controls A good HASP will identify the project’s personnel – including the project ma…

Employee-in-Charge Requirements

When was the last time your organization discussed or highlighted the importance of the employee in charge (EIC)? The EIC has the responsibility to ensure job site success, so it is one of the most important job functions within your company. And because electric power workers perform jobs with extremely high-risk hazards that require successful planning and execution, organizations must assess whether they have equipped employees with the knowledge, skills, tools, responsibility and accountability required to successfully implement EIC duties. The electric power industry continues to experience serious injuries and fatalities (SIFs). Many times, organizations plan work as imagined, but the actual work that must be performed can turn out…
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Direct Current Hazards and Protection Strategies

Protection from direct current (DC) arcs is the latest trend in electrical safety. The growth of commercial and personal electric vehicles (EVs), photovoltaics (PVs), battery backups and grid storage systems makes refreshers necessary. This article introduces some of the DC fundamentals so that end users can build on these concepts to optimize existing electrical safety programs. It will explain the various DC sources, hazards, applicable safety standards and protection strategies. Direct Current Sources DC is produced from PVs or solar panels, batteries and smart power electronic devices known as DC converters. The converters utilize semiconductor devices for rapid smart switching of alternating current (AC) using intelligent circuit co…
AI article by Nelson

Harnessing AI: Crafting the Future of Safety Professionals

| Barry Nelson |
In an ever-evolving world, technological advancements have the potential to transform industries and revolutionize the way we approach safety. Among the many emerging applications of artificial intelligence (AI), one particular use case stands out: the ability to listen to and analyze tens of thousands of daily tailboard conversations to determine their effectiveness in achieving desired outcomes. Consider this example: A prominent utility company in the Southeast conducts thousands of tailboard meetings every day, recording these vital planning discussions through a simple video application. The challenge arises when attempting to manually review and evaluate the vast volume of these conversations. The sheer magnitude renders human effo…
Wilkins article Emergency Plan

Planning for Emergencies: How to Increase Survivability When Someone Gets Hurt

Most of us never plan for an accident to occur on the job site, and there is no way we can know how an individual or crew will respond to the trauma of seeing a teammate injured or killed. That’s something I learned when my crew watched me take the combined induction from two energized 500,000-volt circuits for roughly 30 seconds. The incident tested the crew’s emergency preparedness, and in my opinion, we could have done better. Yes, I survived. But the choices made after my high-voltage contact could have proven deadly had my injuries been more significant. Some Background On the morning of my incident, during the pre-job briefing, my crew members and I discussed our emergency action plan. Part of the plan was to utilize the contract h…

The Art of Safety: Self-Reliance

Given the predictable nature of hazards, how and why do incidents occur? Think about this: If I know the winning numbers ahead of a lottery drawing, it’s simple for me to be 100% successful at winning the lottery money. So, if we know how hazards are going to act and how they cause harm, why aren’t we 100% successful at safety? It’s because we don’t fully grasp and utilize the Art of Safety, or how and why you must understand, lead, develop and protect people. That’s why I wrote the book “Frontline Incident Prevention – The Hurdle: Innovative and Practical Insights on the Art of Safety” and why I am focusing my 2023 Incident Prevention articles – and their corresponding free webinars – on the Art of Safety. So, let’s get started and dis…
Willis- June-July 2023 iP

Strengthening the Substation Fence

People have finally discovered one of the best unkept secrets in America: Our utility systems can be attacked, and it doesn’t take military tacticians to pull it off. Activists have recently renewed calls for more attacks that disrupt essential utility services and create chaos. Previously, terrorist groups focused on disabling the bulk power grid by attacking assets such as Pacific Gas & Electric’s Metcalf transmission substation. Now, their target list has grown to include distribution substations and the critical infrastructure of small and midsized utilities. This new strategy aims to inspire harassing attacks on lower-tier infrastructure assets across the U.S. The purpose of these attacks is to create widespread disruptions of e…
Mike Starner June-July 2023 iP

Preventing Struck-By Incidents in Utility Construction

Anatomically modern humans emerged over 100,000 years ago. For the bulk of that time, the environment in which we lived didn’t change much or very quickly. Now, think about how much the world has changed in just the last 100 years. One interesting thing to consider is how modern human innovation has continued to overcome innate human deficiencies. We control the environment around us now more than ever, including the way we travel, the way we enjoy the arts, the way we grow our food, the way we care for our sick and injured, and – to bring this point home – the way we protect ourselves. Today, in our industry, we have access to state-of-the-art training facilities, cutting-edge tools and advanced protective equipment. Our brains, on the …
Joshua Reilly - June-July 2023

The Quail Effect: An Indicator of Safety Culture

It is not uncommon for a flock of birds, such as quail, to scatter when people get too close to them. This sometimes happens on work sites, too, but instead of birds, it’s workers who scatter when they see safety personnel show up on their job site. A lot can be said about an organization’s safety culture by observing how employees in the field respond to the arrival of safety personnel. Think about it: Do your crews run for cover when they see Safety arrive at the job site? Do they suddenly go on break until Safety leaves? If so, this typically indicates a problem with the organization’s safety culture. But what can you do to change the culture? How do safety personnel overcome this challenge? In my opinion, the answer is easy – get bac…

Eyes on the Wire: The Year of Actively Caring

Power Delivery leaders and supervisors at Georgia Power are working on initiatives to increase their time in the field and demonstrate active caring. However, as they work through managing meetings, to-do lists, deadlines and time constraints, finding time to be in the field can be difficult. As Power Delivery works to meet this challenge, Georgia Power has implemented an innovative idea and tapped into a reliable and obvious resource. “We looked at bringing in safety specialists but realized the best thing to do was to see if retirees who were familiar with the jobs and who knew what they needed to look for might be willing to come back to work,” said Clarence Spencer, a Georgia Power safety and health supervisor. As part of the company…

7 Secrets of Root Cause Analysis

This article offers practical root cause analysis tips that are secrets – if you define “secrets” by how many people need to learn them. We don’t keep these tips under wraps, but it may sometimes seem that way.Why? Because we find so many people who don’t understand what we see as obvious. So, in an effort to help organizations improve their analyses, we thought we’d break down what we see as the seven most important secrets. Read on to discover each one.
Gauges How to Measure Safety February 23

Gauges: How Do You Measure Safety?

The small utility had just lost two journeymen linemen to contractors, and they needed replacements who could hit the ground running. So, the company held some interviews and hired two seasoned journeymen.
Industry trends to improve worker readiness feburary23

Industry Trends and Solutions to Improve Worker Readiness

The moral and legal obligations to provide workers with a safe workplace are just two of the reasons companies should want to keep their employees safe. However, another big motivator for businesses is how extraordinarily disruptive and costly workplace accidents, injuries and illnesses are for their operations. For example, Liberty Mutual estimated that U.S. employers paid over $1 billion per week in workers’ compensation for disabling workplace injuries in 2018 (see The actual price of work-related injuries and deaths is much more than just workers’ compensation, insurance and medical bills; it has a broad impact on society and the economy.

Increasing Safety Through Underground Integrity Management

The utility sector is at a higher risk of serious injuries and fatalities (SIFs) when compared to construction, manufacturing and mining, according to a 2018 study by DEKRA Organizational Safety & Reliability (see The study found that 30% of the SIFs in the utility industry are the result of motor vehicle incidents and another 28% are attributed to line-of-fire or struck-by incidents. Those are sobering statistics, but they help frame what’s possible in the realm of prevention if we can eliminate the need for many of our unplanned site visits. The encouraging observation is that about 42% (i.e., less than half) of SIF…