Safety & Training

Safety

Safety is one of our company’s core values—and the safety of our employees and the public is of utmost importance. Our comprehensive safety program includes employee representatives. We provide safe working conditions, extensive safety training, and appropriate protective equipment. We inspect and upgrade equipment and continue to upgrade work methods. We investigate accidents and incidents to determine causes and preventive measures. We encourage managers to begin all meetings with a safety message. We give electrical safety presentations for schools, fire departments, and other organizations throughout our service area. With these principles and practices, we make safety a focus for everyone.

In 2019 we did not have any fatalities; our last fatality occurred in 1987. Our 2019 lost-time injury rate was higher than our goal due to three employee injuries, however we had our lowest OSHA recordable injury rate to date.

Safety Performance Comparison

 

Otter Tail Power Company

EEI Peers

 

2019 Goal

2019 Actual

2018 Average

Lost-time injury rate

0.26 or below

0.39

0.33

OSHA

recordable injury rate

1.5 or below

1.3

1.5

Preventable vehicle accidents

2.29 or below

2.14

7.1

OSHA standard recordable injury calculation: Total number of cases x 200,000 ÷ total number of hours worked. Preventable vehicle accident rate calculation: Total number of accidents x 1,000,000 ÷ total number of miles driven.

Safety Rule Book

Management and representatives of our union employees work together on our safety program and rule book. The rule book covers health and safety topics developed by a union-management committee. The rule book includes topics such as working on or near energized equipment sites, hazard communications, confined space, forklifts, hoisting equipment, lineman practices, and switching, tagging, and grounding.

Best Operating Practices Committee

The Best Operating Practices Committee improves cross-departmental communication related to operations, equipment, and training. This committee assists company decision makers by providing research on procedures, policies, equipment, and regulations to support decisions and comprises ten employees from various areas in our company.

Power Plant Emergency Training Programs

Safety is a priority at all of our facilities, particularly at generating plants, where hazards increase the potential for injury. When hired, all company power plant workers receive intensive safety training, followed by ongoing refresher sessions and monthly safety meetings.

All power plant employees hold first aid and CPR certifications. In addition, Big Stone Plant and Coyote Station have emergency response teams who receive monthly training on hazardous material handling, firefighting, emergency medical technician/advanced first aid, high-angle rescue, and confined-space rescue. These emergency response teams also are available to contractors working on the respective plant sites.

We had a shelter-in-place tornado response at Coyote Station in spring 2019 due to a tornado that touched down North of Beulah, North Dakota.  

The Coyote Station emergency response team responded to two medical incidents in 2019. An employee fainted at a meeting and the emergency response team responded immediately. The employee was driven to the hospital for observation per the doctor's request, but no treatment beyond first aid was given. Another employee became cold and disoriented at work. The emergency response team reported to the scene and provided emergency treatment. An ambulance took the employee to the hospital for a non-work related illness. 

The Big Stone Plant emergency response team responded to two fires in 2019. Both incidents, which happened separately, involved smoldering coal fires in the Live Storage building. No issues were identified, and the cause was determined to be hot temperatures and the self-combustion of stagnant coal. Coal was removed from building using conveyors and water and foam suppression. Coal was then piled on the ground and packed with a dozer to suffocate the smoldering embers in both incidents. No outside assistance was needed from a fire department.

Field Safety

We have approximately 235 employees working in the field who participate in monthly safety meetings, daily tailgate sessions, and other training opportunities to discuss safe work practices. Approximately 400 employees companywide are trained in CPR and first aid.

Annual Safety Roundtable

We hold an Annual Safety Roundtable for approximately 90 Safety Committee members, which is more than 10 percent of all employees, to discuss ways to improve safety. Internal and external speakers address safety-related topics. We expect employees who attend the Safety Roundtable to share the information they learn with other employees and work groups.

Training

Companywide Online Safety and Employment Law Training

We use an online training program to allow employees to complete their assigned annual training modules as their schedules allow during the calendar year. Employees are enrolled in safety- and human resources-related courses based on job classifications. The table below lists the human resources and employment law courses we require.

 

Course Title

Number of Employees

Percent Completed

Required

Completed

Discrimination-Free Workplace for Supervisor/Manager

111

111

100%

Drug- and Alcohol-Free Workplace

741

741

100%

Code of Conduct

741

741

100%

Lawful Termination and Employee Separation

111

111

100%

Sexual Harassment and Discrimination

636

636

100%

Sexual Harassment Prevention for Managers

111

111

100%

Violence in the Workplace

741

741

100%

Lawful Hiring Practices

 111

111

100%

Security Awareness Essentials Challenge

776

768

99%

FERC Standards of Conduct

741

741

100%


Actual completion rates may be higher. Most incomplete courses are due to employees’ changing positions and no longer being required to complete the courses.

In 2019, 741 employees enrolled in 10,946 courses; employees completed 10,943 courses, or 99.97%. The following table lists the 2019 average hours of online training completed per employee by classification.

Employee Classification

Total Training Hours

Number of Employees

Average Hours Per Employee

Professional

903

188

4.8

Craftworker

2011

400

5.0

Manager

472

93

5.1

Office/Clerical

431

104

4.1

Operative

38

9

4.2

Technical

13

6

2.2

Service worker

15

11

1.4

Laborer

10

2

5.0

Leadership training

Developing highly capable employees is key to the long-term success of our organization. Our Leading the Enterprise, Leading Leaders, Leading Others, and Leading Self development programs are designed to build a common understanding of our company’s culture, strategy, and processes among all our employees. In 2019, approximately 250 employees participated in a leadership development course.

TOP