Mark Fritsch

by: Mark Fritsch, General Manager

Safety: A journey to accident free

Providing reasonable priced, reliable, safe, and customer-focused utility services is our mission. Our employees know that we will never compromise safety to do that. That gets to this month’s topic on work safety and our efforts to never have a safety incident.

We are starting year four of our journey to accident free. Our efforts are being recognized by a recent Minnesota Governors award for safety and an invite to present at the American Public Power Association’s National Convention. What’s more important is we are working safer and that means more efficient, productive and cost effective.

Our journey has been successful because all of us at OPU are committed and involved with working safely and identifying and removing hazards that can and have caused accidents.

We started by focusing on three key culture objectives, first by ensuring that leadership was committed to safety, second was to get employees involved and third was to build a culture of hazard recognition and awareness.

Leadership commitment is the most critical. It relies on the strong leadership abilities of our supervisors. Our leaders focus on setting clear expectations, providing visible leadership and involvement, holding people accountable for proactive safety tasks, confront unsafe behavior, and recognizing safe behavior.

Employee involvement shows that they also take ownership for their part in working safely. Our employees are very involved in safety committees, accident and near miss analysis, audits, pre-work hazard analysis and they give each other permission to hold each other accountable for safety.

Safety awareness is based on our belief that, “You can’t have an accident without a hazard”. Employees learn to identify hazards through safety training, morning updates, incident reports, and on the job hazard analysis.

I’m very proud of the ownership everyone has taken to ensure the journey to accident free continues as we work on management commitment, employee involvement, and employee awareness tasks and processes. Our accident free goal is to improve the quality of life of each of us, to ensure that we arrive home safely at the end of each day.