With greater than ten-fold improvement over than past decade, PECO Energy (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.) employees reached best-in-class safety performance among electric utilities in 2003.

PECO said the number of worker injuries experienced on the job dropped from 221 in 1993 to 13 last year with 27% fewer lost time incidents last year than the previous year.

Such incidents are classified as lost workday cases, or expressed as a rate based on the utility's total employees. The company also saw an 18% reduction in its rate of incidents reported to the federal agency OSHA, an indication of all worker safety incidents even if not involving lost work time.

As an electric and gas utility with round-the-clock operations every day, Denis O'Brien, PECO president, said the utility will continue its strong focus on learning from the best and striving for improvement each year until it experiences a year in which no one gets hurt.

"Safety performance reflects a culture that values people and employees and management working together, committed to a common goal. Safety must be practiced in our workplace in every way, every day," he said. "As we've raised our safety performance, we know we can replicate such performance improvement in reliability, customer satisfaction and other areas with the proper focus and programs in place."

With hazardous weather and driving conditions at times and numerous distractions, PECO's safety manager, John Boyle, said improved safety primarily results from employees always having the proper focus and behaviors and looking out for each other. Boyle also pointed to the effectiveness of PECO's partnership with NovaCare for conditioning, injury and stress prevention.

O'Brien said PECO's safety culture applies to its customer service as well. The utility had a virtually perfect performance when responding to customer gas odor calls within one hour. Additionally, PECO safety professionals provide dozens of programs for local emergency response personnel, contractors and school children throughout the year.

In the past two years, PECO's worker safety programs and performance have been recognized by the Energy Association of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry.