Safety is not just a commitment we talk about at NiSource — it is our top priority and it guides all our actions.
With National Safety Month upon us, we are reflecting on the many ways we focus on safety across our operations and looking ahead to some new processes and procedures we’re putting in place to make us even better.
Below are just some of the ways we’re making every month National Safety Month at NiSource for our customers, communities and employees.
Enhancing Our Training Programs to Keep Our Communities Safe
Our employees dedicate their careers to keeping our communities safe – and we’re committed to providing them with the best tools and training. We also partner with local municipalities to ensure they understand our operations to keep our communities as safe as possible.
- State-of-the-Art Training Centers: This past year, we opened the last of four state-of-the-art training centers in Virginia. In addition to Virginia, the new centers in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts feature innovative teaching environments designed to train employees in skills such as fire safety and excavation, and provide additional training for employees as they advance within the organization. We also provide natural gas emergency training to local first responders.
- Safety Town: At our new Columbia Gas training centers, we have created mock neighborhoods called Safety Towns, to train employees on all facets of emergency response with an array of underground utilities, meters and regulators. From investigating the source of natural gas leaks, to gas-line marking and re-establishing gas service, our Safety Towns are a hands-on way to equip our employees to serve their customers and communities.
To ensure our communities and customers are as safe as possible, we proudly offer training and accessible certificate programs for our community heroes.
- Community Safety Training: Columbia Gas offers free training programs to both fire and police departments across our service territories, featuring live demonstrations of natural gas properties, emergency simulations and information sessions.
- Natural Gas Training Certification & Training Program: Columbia Gas offers a self-directed online training package for emergency response personnel with the information they need to safely identify and respond to incidents that involve natural gas pipelines and facilities.
Safety Gets Digital
Technology continues to play and important role in our business. We are focused on making our detection systems stronger and our response times quicker. Some of the ways we’re evolving our safety tools into the digital realm include:
- GPS Mapping Technology: We have implemented an electronic mapping system on our front lines, allowing engineers and front-line employees to access technical information that can enhance safety operations. Since its development, we’ve used this GPS technology to locate more than 3,000 miles of our gas distribution system and plan to expand this work.
- Damage Prevention Center of Excellence (COE): With a goal to reach top-decile performance in damage prevention by 2021, we launched an innovative center of excellence dedicated to developing a common approach for damage prevention strategy and establishing clear accountability for this strategy across our footprint.
Engaging the Next Generation
We are dedicated to preparing, educating and empowering the next generation to lead safe lives. Some of the ways we are working with these future leaders include:
- Digger Dog®: Our safety mascot in Ohio and Pennsylvania makes regular appearances at schools and other community events to teach children — and their teachers and parents — how to recognize the smell of natural gas and what to do if they smell it.
- Energy Safe Kids: Designed by NIPSCO, this program encourages 4th-grade students to think about energy sources and how to be safe around them. Students receive a take-home energy safety booklet that encourages them to “live smart” by following energy safety precautions at home and at school.
We are proud of our employees who are committed to keeping themselves, one another, our customers and our communities safe – and we are grateful for all they have done and continue to do. We’ve operated for several years with the milestone of top-decile employee safety performance within the utility industry and are working to sustain this recognition year over year.