The Safety Always approach makes all of us safer
Xcel Energy recognizes National Safety Month and celebrates safety successes
June is National Safety Month, and Xcel Energy is joining the National Safety Council and its members to reflect on how we can create the safest working conditions possible for the people who bring us reliable electric and natural gas service every day.
In 2020, we reimagined our approach to safety by launching our Safety Always initiative, which identifies the most serious risks inherent in our work so that we can eliminate or mitigate them. For years, conventional wisdom held that focusing on preventing minor injuries would prevent the occurrence of more serious ones. However, newer research and best practices show it is more effective to focus on the most serious risks. That is what Safety Always aims to do.
After three full years of implementation, Xcel Energy’s Safety Always culture is achieving results—through new ways of doing things and an atmosphere of trust and transparency.
Caring, sharing and learning
Our Safety Always approach is built on the Human and Organizational Performance principles:
- Error is normal – people make mistakes.
- Learning and improving are vital.
- How you respond to failure matters.
- Blame fixes nothing.
- Context influences behavior.
When a safety event happens that led to or had the potential to lead to a severe injury or fatality, we use a process called Event Learning to examine the incident for in-depth learning opportunities. Through candid conversations in a non-threatening environment, we understand how an incident occurred, rather than who was to blame, and can identify preventive measures, which we call controls, and put them in place. Controls—such as guardrails, seat belts or automatic safety functions—are our most important strategy because they save lives. Of the new controls we have implemented, 67% were based on event learnings.
Safety Always also focuses on listening and sharing with our employees and contractors. Sharing near misses with coworkers is a fitting example of learning and improving before an injury occurs, which is the best possible time to make changes – before anyone gets injured. Many near misses lead to event learnings, and of the 306 reported in 2022, 38% identified significant hazards that we are now working to prevent.
A Safety Always culture
When it comes to safety, we consider our employee and contractor workforce as one team. We apply the same safety rules, training requirements and reporting standards to our contractor workforce as we do to our employee workforce. By holding regular touchpoints with our partner contractors, we help them plan their work in alignment with our Safety Always approach.
Safety Always involves more than just following procedures. It’s also about compassion, respect and recognition of human strength and limitation. Our Safety Always recognition program aims to reinforce positive behaviors that are constructive, engaging and support our Safety Always culture by celebrating employees who exhibit caring, sharing and learning.
We encourage employees to use this mindset on and off the clock by presenting Life-Sustaining Awards to Xcel Energy employees who have assisted in an emergency to sustain the life of another person. Past recipients have been honored for administering first aid, performing CPR and even rescuing a young boy who was trapped by the undertow of rapids in a creek in Golden, Colorado.
And Safety Always does not stop with our employees and contractor partners. Keeping our communities safe around energy is a responsibility we take very seriously. Our outreach programs use multiple channels to communicate and share safety messages with our customers, communities, emergency responders, public officials and third-party workers. We support efforts like the national 811 phone number that people call to have underground utility lines marked for free before they dig; share resources with emergency responders to help them prepare for an energy emergency; and provide educators with resources that make learning about the science and safety of energy fun and interactive for students of all ages.
Our goal is for everyone who lives, works or gathers near our facilities to be aware of possible hazards and to know how to respond safely to them. Learn more about Xcel Energy’s Safety Always approach and Public Safety outreach by reading our sustainability briefs on Workforce Safety and Public Safety.