Safety Focus In 2021

January 20, 2021

Observers examine scaffold during a safety walkdown prior to a maintenance outage.

As an industrial hygienist in Corporate Health & Safety, Darrick Bertig reviews air monitoring sample results for Harrison Power Station. Darrick wondered whether air quality during welding/cutting operations could be improved by enhancing performance of the plant’s welding fume extraction system. His question got the attention of Senior Safety Representative Steve Lopez.

“We reviewed and found that when both fume extraction arms were used at the same time, it created a slight turbulence and could affect the fume extraction process,” said Steve. “Reconfiguring the duct work improved performance, resolving any potential issue.”

The Harrison effort was one of 85 reports labelled “Good Catches” across Fleet Operations in 2020. Workers also reported 15 “Near Misses” – events that caused no injury but might have if something had gone differently. The number of Good Catch and Near Miss reports in Fleet Operations have increased in recent years, but an ongoing goal for 2021 is encouraging all workers to support the effort.

“There was a time in the industry when people didn’t want to make those reports because they feared they might get somebody into trouble,” said Mike Mamone, manager, Regulated Generation Safety. “It’s exactly the opposite. We use Near Miss and Good Catch reports to evaluate and improve our procedures and work processes.”

Preventing Exposure in the Field Going hand in hand with encouraging safety reports is a strong emphasis on the use of the Field Verification Critical Controls (FVCC) process, which adds a layer of protection by taking workers through a review of a task prior to starting work.

“It’s critical that everyone knows to question and stop their work if conditions are not as described in their pre-job briefing,” said Bob Staten, Mobile Maintenance supervisor. “We continually stress that if something unexpected arises it’s important to have discussions, check with supervisors and develop a plan for success.”

That was the case when Mobile Maintenance workers were assigned plant boiler work that resulted from an issue discovered during an outage.

“We had excellent personal protective equipment (PPE) planned for the scheduled jobs, but the boiler work was not in the original assignment,” Bob said. “Our crews evaluated the situation, stopped and asked whether we should consider getting more specialized PPE for the job.”

In fact, pre-work sampling found that the specialized PPE would be a better fit for the task.

“The FVCC process can lead to huge benefits in reducing life-changing events by focusing our employees on the task,” noted Mike. “Every question raised has the potential to prevent exposures to our fellow workers.”

The 2021 focus includes actively engaging workers to reduce the number of serious injuries.

“Our Human Performance Team analyzed 2020 Generation incidents and developed a targeted safety campaign to reduce significant injuries to our employees,” said Brad McPherson, a senior Safety consultant who’s leading the team. “In reviewing statistics, team members found that worker awareness of the potential for exposure would have mitigated many situations. Our campaign concentrates on improving processes and behaviors with the goal of minimizing human error and striving for the event-free performance essential to the safety and health of employees, contractors and the public.”

Through most of 2020, employees worked hard to continue the regular processes that enhance safety but become more challenging in the days of COVID-19 protocols and social distancing.

“We had to be flexible and adaptable – yet at the same time unyielding in our commitment to safety” said Dan Rossero, vice president, Fleet Operations. “The pandemic put an additional layer of responsibility on all of us. Protecting ourselves and others at work and outside of the job, following our protocols and being even more willing to coach in situations that might not always be comfortable were critical to ensuring health and safety.”

Continuing those efforts while concentrating on reducing exposures through improved processes and employee focus are primary goals for 2021.

“The vision remains the same,” said Dan: “Safety is an unwavering core value. Together, we have the power to keep each other safe and eliminate lifechanging events.”