It’s our responsibility to ensure employee and public safety, and in 2011, we focused on continuous improvement and building our safety culture. Our goal is to be in the top quartile among our peers for safety performance by 2015. To reach that level, we must create a genuine safety culture – an environment in which all members of our team take personal responsibility for their safety, as well as the safety of their co-workers, our customers and the communities we serve.
Common industry benchmarks used to measure safety performance are the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) incident, which includes all work-related injuries and illnesses, and Days Away, Restricted or Transferred (DART) rates. The DART rate includes days employees are unable to work due to an injury, where employees are on restricted job duties and where employees are transferred out of their job because they are physically unable to perform their job duties due to an injury.
Our goal for incidents will always be zero. As part of our safety approach, we set annual milestones toward our goal. While we saw improved performance in safety measures in 2011 compared to 2010, we did not hit our milestones. Across NiSource, our team members are working hard on safety:
- Our Ohio Three Rivers Operations Center finished 2011 without a single preventable crash or recordable injury. The Ohio Muskingum Valley Operations Center finished its sixth consecutive year without a recordable injury.
- In Indiana, NIPSCO received a project performance award from the National Association of Construction Boilermaker Employers for an SCR flue gas reheater project at a generating plant. NIPSCO, its contractor and Boilermakers Local Lodge No. 374 worked 40,000 hours over nearly six months with zero recordable injuries on the project.
- Our Virginia Staunton Operating Area and System Operations state team both completed 2011 without a single preventable accident or recordable injury.
- NGT&S' safety team worked in conjunction with operations and maintenance employees to identify the best equipment and work practices that would protect employees when working in hazardous areas. As a result of this work, NGT&S invested nearly $400,000 in new equipment and training to ensure that our employees are protected and kept safe.
We still have significant steps to take to reach our goals, and through company-wide efforts, are introducing new safety programs and initiatives to reinforce our commitment to safety. One of those steps took place in early 2012, when more than 80 leaders from across NiSource, as well as external safety experts, gathered for our first company-wide Safety Summit. The focus was to challenge leaders to focus on past safety performance, discuss objectives for 2012, and identify best practices that can be shared across all our companies.
A second initiative introduced in 2011 focuses on preventing vehicle crashes. We track this measure across NiSource, and it’s one where we’ve fallen short of our milestone. To help improve, we introduced an online driving improvement course. The training begins with an online hazard perception module, and based on those results, other driving improvement modules are assigned to help our employees improve in areas needed.
Safety doesn’t end when the workday ends, which is why we’ve made the online safe driving course available to one family member per employee. More than 4,600 employees and family members completed the course in 2011. Beginning in 2012, all employees are required to take the course.