Leidos and Georgia Power: Taking a meaningful approach to safety
Leidos and Georgia Power have partnered to take the utility’s robust safety program to the next level, with the number one program goal to ensure the safety of Georgia Power’s workers – making sure that they return home safely to their families every night. With a shared set of values, the two organizations work shoulder-to-shoulder to lead the way in safety awareness and best practices across all 6,000+ Georgia Power employees.
We sat down with Mike Middleton, Safety and Health Director, Georgia Power, and Candace Bell, Safety Manager, Leidos, to learn more about the award-winning safety program that is making a big impact.
Every utility has a safety program. What makes Georgia Power’s approach to safety unique?
At Georgia Power, we have an overarching safety strategy. Our goal is to create an “Actively Caring” safety culture, where Safety First is every one’s number one value – period!
A key objective of our five-year safety excellence strategy is for each employee to gain a robust understanding of what that statement truly means, and more importantly, ingrain that safety culture in every action, every day. As part of that strategy, our creative initiatives are all uniquely integrated together. We partner with Leidos, the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers (IBEW) teammates, and our sister companies to help tell our story internally and externally.
Georgia Power has created an industry-leading safety program. Leidos is proud to be part of their plan by managing projects that magnify and enhance the core safety values at Georgia Power. Their visionary leaders trust us to take their program to the next level to make a very personal impact to already highly technically trained operations personnel.
You provide “Safety on Demand” videos for all Georgia Power employees, yet you don’t consider them technical training. Can you speak to the intent of creating those videos?
We are keenly attuned to equipping our teammates with the tools and resources they need to be successful. The Safety on Demand videos are intended to be a catalog of discussion-starters that employees can use on the job site right before they begin their work. The videos help remind employees of certain hazards they would face performing a certain task and provide a platform to have a dynamic safety conversation around that.
The brief, informative videos identify risks and educate the field personnel about safety issues that are directly tied to work they are performing that day, and they can be accessed in the field at the site where the work is being performed. Because of that immediacy, the videos provide an easy way for employees to access information when they have questions.
Leidos manages the creation of these videos so that Georgia Power can focus on their mission to deliver clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy to their 2.7 million customers. At Leidos, we pride ourselves in delivering an end product that meets Georgia Power’s very specific safety needs, requirements, and goals.
Personal accountability is key to any safety program. How do the Safety on Demand videos reinforce that concept?
These videos are great training resources for field employees, and they feature our field employees. When you are a part of creating something, you have a sense of ownership.
The training we put in place empowers our teammates to make the right decisions every time, and we empower our teams to start the conversation about safety. Every employee – regardless of title – has the responsibility and accountability to stop work if they see a potential safety hazard. These videos simply serve as reminders or nudges to do so.
By using Georgia Power team members in the videos, the videos are more relatable and deliver a message that speaks to real-world scenarios. These are real lessons – and we know that the field personnel will talk about it with their crew members. We’ve seen a significant percentage increase in near miss notifications, and we can tie that back to the videos raising awareness and opening the door to safety conversations. For example, a 21-year-old worker called a stop work on a pole that had some damage; he had just seen a video on that very topic. The safety culture is changing, and he was comfortable in pointing this out.
Georgia Power has a “Safety Observers Program” – also called Eyes on the Wire. Can you tell us a little bit about that program?
For our Eyes on the Wire program, we brought back 15 line worker retirees to go out in the field and serve as an extra set of eyes on the hazards. These 15 retirees are the cream of the crop with excellent safety records; they have over 500 years of combined experience. They spend the whole day in the field with our crews – literally keeping their eyes on the wire. They are on-site when crews arrive and are part of the job safety briefing. They are 100 percent focused on the work – explaining hazards and reviewing best practices.
Leidos manages the safety observers for Georgia Power. These senior experts are invaluable to the safety of the crews in the field. They are there to share expertise and observations, as well as personal stories to help drive home the safety culture. The field teams are very comfortable with the observers and will ask questions and share near misses.
How do you measure the success of the Eyes on the Wire program?
The Eyes on the Wire program has protected five lives from arc flash/electrical contact. These are lives – our brothers and sisters – not statistics. And in 2022, more than 540 at-risk behaviors were reported by the Eyes on the Wire group, so we consider this a success.
The Georgia Power crews are now requesting that the safety observers come out to a job site. Those requests demonstrate the trust that the field crews have for the observers; they are seen as partners and advisors.
How do you inspire your team to continue looking for innovative ideas for improving safety?
Collaboration and inclusivity are what make us most successful. Our safety culture encourages our teams to constantly seek innovative ways to help our teammates be successful.
Both the video and observer programs are innovative approaches to safety that go way beyond mandatory training. It’s all focused on improving human performance.
It’s very rare that utilities use this approach. This approach reaches the hearts and minds of the Georgia Power staff – it gives everyone a personal, relatable, and more meaningful approach to safety.