Building a Culture of Safety

Photo: Lewis Stewart

The safety of employees and the public must be the highest priority for any utility. An unyielding dedication to safety is not only the right thing to do, it is essential to the success and sustainability of PG&E.

Although our safety performance improved last year, we are not satisfied with current results. Our target is zero safety incidents in the work environment, and we remain a long distance from achieving that goal. It is clear to us when comparing our performance with that of others in the industry that substantial opportunities exist for improvement. We are working aggressively to make the progress we know is possible.

Our Safety and Health Policy forms the foundation for the programs we use to pursue our goals. "Zero In On Safety" is a strategy we began implementing companywide in 2006. It includes new tools to help employees identify and resolve safety issues, develop effective safety committees and improve safety performance in the field.

In 2007, we enhanced our Zero In On Safety strategy in a number of ways:

  • We began conducting rigorous, formal root-cause analyses of safety incidents in order to identify process improvement opportunities and prevent recurrences of problems. Our initial phase improved incident reporting and data collection processes and included root-cause analysis training for targeted employees.
  • We began requiring all organizations throughout the company to hold a Safety Focus Meeting to engage employees in a discussion about their individual commitment to safety and set expectations around working safely. The sessions included a powerful video featuring testimonials from PG&E employees who have been injured on the job.
  • We hired a full-time manager to build and oversee a comprehensive wellness program at PG&E. Initial efforts included piloting a smoking cessation program for 80 employees from the San Francisco, Fresno and Sacramento service areas.

Other highlights included awareness efforts such as new Zero In On Safety posters for our offices and facilities, ergonomic program improvements and tools and review and analysis of fire-resistant clothing. We also enhanced our safety reporting and existing compliance programs. Safety committees throughout PG&E continue to identify safety issues and develop action plans to resolve them.

Life Safety Program

While sophisticated building protective systems are important in emergencies, well-trained, resourceful and reliable employees will always be the most essential components of any emergency program. At PG&E's headquarters, we maintain a well-established life safety program, consisting of Emergency Team members led by a Floor Warden on every floor of the four-building complex.

Volunteers are required to participate in training on a variety of topics, including first-aid safety and CPR, blood-borne pathogens and proper use of fire extinguishers. They also take part in team-based exercises to work through various emergency situations. These courses allow team members to maintain a two-year certification for first aid and CPR. In 2007, more than 400 employees participated in these courses.

PG&E is using best practices from the life safety initiatives and procedures at our headquarters to improve consistency at facilities companywide.

Safety Results

While we have not achieved our goal of zero incidents, the Utility's statistical performance continued to improve in 2007. For example, we reduced our OSHA Recordable Rate by more than 18 percent, compared with 2006, and cut our Lost Workday Case Rate by more than 11 percent. We also continued to reduce the total number of Lost Workdays, with nearly 11 percent fewer Lost Workdays than in 2006. The table to the right provides complete safety statistics for 2005 through 2007.

Safety Results for 2005 through 2007 (Utility)
Total Lost Workdays
Total Lost Workday Cases
Total Lost Workday Case Rate
Total OSHA Recordables
OSHA Recordable Rate

A New Strategy for Motor Vehicle Safety

As the operator of a large fleet of cars and trucks, safe driving plays an important role in achieving our employee and public safety goals.

Despite a number of strategies over the years to improve motor vehicle safety, PG&E saw its statistics on motor vehicle incidents continue to climb. That's why the company implemented a new motor vehicle safety program and procedure in 2006—taking a systematic approach to reducing motor vehicle incidents. PG&E also adopted standard criteria for tracking motor vehicle safety performance across the company and for comparison with other companies with motor vehicle safety programs.

Key elements of the program include an increased emphasis on driver training (which employees are also encouraged to share with family and friends), improved tracking and reporting, and clearly marking most of our vehicles.

In 2007, more than 5,800 employees successfully completed a formal, one-day advanced driver training program, which involved two hours of classroom instruction and six hours of behind-the-wheel training. We also implemented a 1-800 "Am I Driving Safely?" initiative—placing bumper stickers on 8,300 of the Utility's vehicles. The bumper sticker encourages customers to report unsafe driving by dialing a 1-800 number to report it.

These combined motor vehicle safety programs resulted in a 31 percent net reduction in the vehicle incident rate last year. Complementing the hands-on driver training, we are moving forward with additional training based on the 2007 vehicle incidents and exposure data. In 2008, we will offer a computer-based E-Learning course covering small vehicles.

Motor Vehicle Safety Statistics (Utility)
Total Motor Vehicle Incidents1
Motor Vehicle Incident Rate2

1 Total Motor Vehicle Incidents is an internal PG&E metric counting motor vehicle incidents that could not have been reasonably prevented by an employee.

2 The Motor Vehicle Incident Rate measures how frequently motor vehicle incidents occur for every 1,000,000 miles driven.

Keeping Our Communities Safe

Creating a safe environment for our customers and communities is as important to us as the safety of our employees. PG&E's comprehensive Public Safety Information Program focuses on increasing awareness about the safe and proper use of gas and electricity, as well as helping to keep those working around utility lines safe from harm. This program distributes user-friendly, engaging educational materials to our customers in multiple languages. For our efforts, regulators and our peer utilities continue to cite our public safety information program as a "best-in-class."

Photo: Lewis Stewart

Some examples of our programs and 2007 activities include:

  • SafeKids School Safety Program. Over the past eight years, PG&E has provided free safety education materials to teachers in more than 85 percent of the schools in our service area. This past year alone, more than 350,000 students in almost 5,300 elementary and middle school classrooms received our materials. Teachers regularly comment that the materials are fun and effective in helping them teach their students the importance of gas and electric safety.
  • Contractor and Agricultural Worker Outreach. PG&E continues to provide safety training materials to contractors and agricultural workers throughout our service area. These materials include bilingual brochures, posters and videos. Over the past six years, more than 170,000 contractors and 75,000 agricultural workers have received these materials through their employers. In addition, PG&E continues to work with trade associations and safety groups statewide to help distribute safety information directly to their members.
  • Emergency Preparedness. PG&E works closely with organizations like the Red Cross, local city emergency preparedness councils and community emergency response teams to provide brochures and other materials that help explain how to prepare for an earthquake, how and when to shut off utilities and why it is necessary to have an emergency kit.