Worker Safety Impacts from Disruptive Change in the Electric Power Sector

As industries experience increased change and enhanced disruption, risks and hazards can shift. Not only may some risks become more prominent, but the ways in which employees are at risk can change. It’s absolutely critical for businesses within the electric power sector to regularly assess and reassess their risk profiles, as well as listening to frontline workers about potential safety improvements.

The Impact of Disruption on Worker Safety

The electric power sector is fast moving and actively experiencing disruption. With changes in regulations, expanding distribution of resources, and rapid growth in technology, it’s a challenging time for electric power businesses. When an organization experiences rapid change there’s a risk that safety standards and procedures could fall to the wayside.

Workers employed within the electric light and power industry are required to work in high risk areas. When encountering new technology or processes, they may not always have the training to assess their own personal risk. When organizations are shifting and growing, workers may be pressured to perform quickly. With over 50,000 professionals working in power plant operation, and over 100,000 operating as power-line installers and repairers, there are a significant number of employees who could be at risk.

Risks Inherent to the Energy Power Sector

Employees in the electric power sector are already exposed to a great deal of risk. They need to travel great distances to work sites, transport potentially heavy loads to work sites, work at heights that can be incredibly dangerous, work with heavy equipment, and work with high-voltage power lines. At every turn, there’s the potential for danger, especially if employees are unfamiliar with a tool they are using, or haven’t been trained in a new technology.

With so much risk already baked into the electric power sector, anything that changes the way that these organizations operate can also increase risk dramatically for power line installers and repairers. Something as simple as not being able to send out a fully-staffed team to an electric power site could lead to an employee falling in a harness without someone present to pull them back up.

  • Energy transmission and distribution workers face constantly changing work conditions and elevated risks. When the environment around a person changes, they can’t adequately protect themselves from injury.
  • According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, contact with or exposure to electricity is the sixth most common cause of workplace fatalities across all industries. Further, falling injuries are the most frequently fatal of all workplace injuries. Together, this creates a storm of risk factors for the electric power sector.

Ultimately, the electric power sector is inherently dangerous, and there are additional dangers being introduced through disruptive change. Companies need to respond to this type of disruptive change proactively.

Innovation as a Response to Disruption

No organization wants to see its employees get injured. But even conscientious employees could fail to recognize how significantly industry disruption has impacted its safety protocols.

The best response to disruption is innovation. Companies need to find new ways not only to develop their products and services, but also to ensure the safety of their employees.

While innovation often takes the form of direct-to-client changes and marketing, innovation can also be ways of doing things better internally. This could include streamlining safety protocols, automating more of the company’s safety solutions, and engaging with safety software that can help the organization assess its risk.

Since innovation is targeted primarily towards revenue-generating activities, retail power companies may overlook the fact that innovation can also be used to reduce their risk. Further, companies should be using innovation to counter any disruption within their industry, by growing in non-traditional ways.

Industries today need to be able to survive disruption, and that means reacting to it quickly. Organizations may need to assess and envision their entire strategies.

Important Tips and Best Practices for Energy Industry Safety

What can an organization do to make sure that its employees are safe? There are a number of improvements that a company can use:

  • Create a culture of safety. The electric power sector can sometimes make people hesitant to take their own safety seriously, as they are trying to save face with other employees, and give off the impression that they are not afraid of injury. A culture of safety is the best way to counteract this.
  • Invest in safety programs that unite employees. Safety programs that get teams working together, and that present safety as an opportunity rather than an additional challenge, can yield fantastic benefits over time.
  • Monitor employee health and attitude. If an employee appears to be getting too casual and complacent about safety, it should be investigated. Likewise, employees who are seemingly unable to function should be moved from high risk areas.
  • Encourage communication and respect. Employees shouldn’t feel afraid to report safety violations, nor should they be worried about their own safety violations. Everyone should be working towards safety together, and should feel welcome to speak.
  • Institute new technology. Platforms such as Anvl are able to predict potential worker injury, share information, and strengthen communication across the team, thereby helping companies mitigate risk factors before they become a problem.

The electric power sector is innovating, experiencing disruption, and scaling. There’s a tremendous amount of opportunity there, but many people are also concerned about the increased risks and hazards. By improving your safety standards, following safety tips, and looking into safety management software, you can improve the way that your organization handles potential risk.

Learn how Anvl can help you respond efficiently to industry disruption and engage your frontline to drive safety culture changes to help your workforce make it home safely every day.