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Moving Safety to Level 10

Posted to Esri in the Digital Utility Group
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Pat  Hohl's picture
Director - Electric Industry Solutions Esri

Pat Hohl, PE, is Esri's director of electric industry solutions. He was a pioneer in the use of GIS for electric utilities. He has over 35 years of experience in utility engineering, technology...

  • Member since 2018
  • 128 items added with 176,155 views
  • Nov 30, 2021
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Ryan was a fresh and rather frustrated field supervisor. He struggled with his big vision for team improvements. He was having trouble getting his group to elevate their work processes. “We’ve always done it this way,” annoyed him to no end. One afternoon he asked for my input.

“I’m not demanding level 10 performance; I’m just trying to be at level 8”, he declared. I asked him where his team was on this arbitrary 10 point scale. “Like a 3”, he exclaimed!

I proposed he first shoot for level 4 – make some achievable forward progress --break the stationary force. By focusing beyond what the team could grasp, he became stuck. I explained that level 3 could lead to 4, 5, and so on up the scale.

Utility industry press is frequently dominated by glorious level 10 project stories – artificial intelligence and self-healing networks. Therefore, we think most everyone is at level 9, and with just a few tweaks, will soon arrive at 10. However, in my conversations with utilities worldwide, most are working on more fundamental issues. This is very true for safety.

In a safety culture, the goal is always Zero accidents – level 10! So a nice big number on the “days without a lost-time accident” board indicates level 10, right? Maybe. Unfortunately, when that number drops to single digits, it’s an altogether different story.

Safety and compliance apply to employees, the public, and the environment as well. Sadly, most of the accidents I’ve investigated were easily avoidable. Unfortunately, many resulted from misinformation – workers operating the wrong equipment, lack of awareness, or uncertainty from poor communication.

Misinformation is a level 3 problem. You can’t get to level 10 safety with level 3 information and communication.

Workers need to understand their work environment and the hazards -- they need clear, up-to-date information. In contrast to old maps, safe staff require quick updates and real-time data feeds. Current information supports situational awareness for both field and office personnel. Modern apps also enable staff to communicate instantly. Collaboration before potentially hazardous tasks elevates safe work practices and avoids unwelcome surprises.

Utility work is dangerous. For every utility, safety is a top priority – yet accidents happen. Excellent information plays a crucial role in elevating safety. The better the workforce understands the hazards, the better it will adapt.

Please utilize the free eBook Elevating Safety and Compliance Performance to help move your safety culture toward level 10.

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