Learning from past incidents is crucial to continuously improving Envirocon’s safety record. In early 2012, key members of Envirocon’s Safety Staff reviewed past incidents involving utilities. After evaluating specific incidents related to overhead and underground utilities, we discovered some powerful lessons learned. The findings indicated that the risks of overhead and underground utilities, and the associated planning for those activities, were not as highly valued as they should be. Spotting for utilities generally did not occur or if it did occur, they were not performed effectively. These findings led to the development of a proactive method for increasing awareness of the risks of utilities and applying prevention techniques with the outcome of a safer work environment.
An aggressive focus program was launched with a detailed lessons-learned webinar as well as the posting of spotter awareness information at job sites. Together these tools are increasing awareness and helping to prevent incidents involving overhead and underground utilities.
The requirements for “spotting” change depending on the work activity being supported. Spotters for excavations have different responsibilities than spotters for crane loads. The emphasis is preventing contact with utilities, but spotting can also prevent other accidents caused by backing, heavy equipment, and crane use, excavating near underground utilities, and operating equipment especially when the direction of travel is unclear. A spotter does not automatically make the situation safe; spotters need to be trained to know what to look for, understand hand signals, be aware of all of the hazards, and anticipate situations which may lead to an accident.
Information and safety procedures outlining specific work categories are included on the “Got Spotter” poster now hanging at all job sites. The “Got Spotter” posters act as an awareness refresher about the importance of proper spotting. Since the posters’ release, there is a renewed commitment to the importance of spotting for utilities by Envirocon employees. No near misses or utility incidents have been reported since the refresher training was launched.
Engaging employees at all levels to focus on a specific area with a goal towards improvement is the critical to Envirocon’s Operational Excellence program. Employees that are involved in the planning and training process have a vested interested in seeing improvement. The Enhanced Spotter Training Program represents Envirocon’s true commitment to achieving improved safety performance as a part of Operational Excellence across the company.