Strategies for hard-wiring safety into the utility and electrical sector

2023 award-winner on what Black and McDonald is doing right

Strategies for hard-wiring safety into the utility and electrical sector

In the realm of utility and electrical companies, safety isn't just a priority; it's a way of life. For these organizations, creating a culture of safety is paramount.

Anthony Di Gianni is the director of health, safety, and environment at Black and McDonald, which is the recipient of the prestigious 2023 Canada Safest Employers Award for Safest Utilities and Electrical Employer. He shares valuable insights and strategies for cultivating a robust safety culture within such high-hazard industries.

Leadership commitment key

Di Gianni says there are three main components of a strong safety culture, the first being "leadership commitment." He highlights the importance of leaders actively supporting safety initiatives and regularly engaging with field staff. "Leaders who support the advancement of our safety management system play a pivotal role," he explains. Ensuring that employees are productive, healthy, and safe requires continuous leadership involvement.

Empowered employees for a safer workplace

Empowering employees is the second pillar of Di Gianni’s safety strategy. He underlines the significance of creating an environment where employees can report concerns, observations, and suggestions without fear of retaliation or discrimination. "Empowered employees are more likely to actively participate in maintaining safety standards, "he affirms. It's about fostering trust and open communication.

Ongoing communication and continuous improvement

The third and final component Di Gianni mentions is "ongoing communication and continuous improvement." He acknowledges the challenges of maintaining consistent communication across all levels, especially for a company with operations spanning across multiple sectors in Canada and the United States. However, he asserts that having a strong safety team in place ensures that the safety management system is consistently applied, best practices are adopted, and feedback from the field is heard and acted upon.

Leveraging technology for safety advancements

Black and McDonald made significant strides in its safety program by implementing a digital HSE (Health, Safety, and Environment) software solution in 2020, a move that presented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. The adoption of technology was driven by the company's desire to enhance efficiency and proactively identify safety trends. Di Gianni says their upcoming initiatives include predictive modeling dashboards, deeper investigations, and a quality review process to ensure the focus is on the quality of submissions rather than quantity.

Safety challenges on the horizon

Looking ahead to 2024, Di Gianni addresses the ever-present safety challenges in the utility sector. He emphasizes the importance of engaging in proactive hazard identification and control measures. "We need to drive a culture of engagement, collaboration, and innovation, one that supports a strong reporting culture," he states.

Sharing lessons learned across the organization is crucial in tackling these challenges. "Being proactive and addressing workplace hazards, implementing effective control measures, and sharing lessons learned are key focus areas any company, regardless of the sector, should follow."

Creating a culture of safety in utility and electrical companies is an ongoing journey that requires leadership commitment, empowered employees, continuous communication, and the leveraging of technology. As Di Gianni’s insights from Black and McDonald show, with the right strategies and a steadfast commitment to safety, excellence in safety can be achieved.