Safety: Banner year still not good enough
The safety of our teammates and the public is not just a priority for Duke Energy — it’s one of our core values. That was evident in 2012, when the company achieved its lowest-ever Total Incident Case Rate (TICR). Combining data from the two merged companies, our TICR improved 29 percent since 2009. And our Total Recordable Incidents were down 25 percent from 2009, to 228, also a new company record.
Our improved safety record is a credit to the safety culture at both companies and our employees’ steady focus, especially during a period of great uncertainty. However, we cannot — and will not — rest on our laurels. We have initiatives in place to continue driving safety performance improvement and consistency throughout the company. Our goal: Achieve top-decile safety performance among our industry peers by 2015.
Taking action after fatalities
Although 2012 was a record-setting year for TICR, we failed to meet our most important goal: zero employee or contractor work-related fatalities.
In May 2012, a Pike Electric contractor working for Progress Energy in Elm City, N.C., died as a result of an electrical contact when a truck he was touching became energized. And, just a month later, a Progress Energy employee in Florida lost his life in a five-car accident. The employee, who was wearing his seatbelt, was stopped at a red light when a car struck his work vehicle from behind.
Thus far in 2013, we’ve experienced three fatalities, including two in our Duke Energy International organization. Early this year, a contractor in Peru died after making contact with an electrical conductor. Then, in February, an employee in Brazil passed away after the company vehicle she was driving ran off the road and crashed. Later that month, a tree-trimming contractor working in North Carolina was struck and killed by a falling branch.
We took a hard look at the circumstances that led to each of those fatalities, and turned them into learning opportunities. For example, we are improving our prequalification process for contractors, to ensure they have the right training, qualifications and systems in place to work safely. By taking corrective actions, improving our processes, and sharing what went wrong with our employees, contractors and contracting companies, we can avoid similar incidents in the future.
Preventing slips, trips and falls
Even in the office environment, employees are exposed to hazards that can result in slips, trips and falls. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, those are the most frequent causes of workplace injuries, and Duke Energy is no exception. Slips, trips and falls were the largest contributors to the total number of our workplace injuries in 2012, and also the leading cause of the most serious types, such as dislocations, fractures and head injuries.
That’s why we’re focused on increasing employee and contractor awareness of the factors that can lead to slips, trips and falls, and on reducing exposure to potential risks. In the end, our commitment is to continue to reduce both the number and severity of injuries at Duke Energy.
The difference between a near-miss and a serious injury or fatality is often just a matter of inches or seconds. We can prevent injuries and save lives by reporting, collecting, sharing and analyzing those near-miss experiences.
Our near-miss reporting system provides employees and managers with learning opportunities before injuries occur, just as we learn from incidents that actually lead to injury or death. Based on our experience, changes in safety attitudes and behaviors result in fewer near-misses and injuries — and a healthier and more productive workforce.