Occupational Health & Safety

Why It Matters


Safety is both a value and strategy at American Water. Safety is more than just “the right thing to do”—we know the health of our employees’ and contractors’ is a leading indicator of our company’s health. We have to get safety right before can get everything else right.

Our goal is zero injuries. In addition, we strive to foster a work environment that promotes emotional safety, a healthy lifestyle and being physically safe while at work and home. Every day, our employees should return home in the same or better condition as when they came to work. We all benefit when everyone involved with our organization is healthy and safe.

As a strategy, Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) translates to better performance across our entire organization. Healthy and injury-free employees power American Water to perform well as a business, lower our operating costs and increase employee morale. 


Our Approach


We weave our safety strategy throughout the fabric of our organization. Integral to this strategy is our commitment to safety leadership, employee accountability and caring for our people. Every meeting at American Water begins with a safety message. By successfully working together and caring for each other, we believe we can achieve excellent health and safety performance and zero injuries.

In support of our commitment, we invested more than 100,000 hours in annual employee safety training in 2020. Throughout our organization, we engage in open exchanges to explore new ways to further enhance physical and emotional safety on the job. We encourage employees to take the time they need to complete a task safely and empower employees to stop working whenever they think a task is unsafe.

In addition to our employees, we also expect suppliers to provide products and services that comply with American Water requirements regarding health and safety, while meeting applicable laws and regulations. We expect suppliers to perform operations in a safe manner under healthy working conditions to prevent incidents, injuries or illness. See Supplier Code of Conduct for more on supplier safety. 


OUR Performance

103-3, 403-7, 403-9, EEI 7.3, EEI 7.3.1, EEI 7.3.3

We remain focused on improving our OHS performance each year. We analyze our OHS data to look for trends and commonalities, perform root cause analysis and implement improvements following the Plan, Do, Check, Act principle. Our ultimate goal is zero incidents. We can achieve this goal through our employees’ and leadership’s passion for zero injuries, care for each other’s safety, and our unwavering commitment to our processes and clear strategic actions. We set several annual goals and targets to track our improvement:

  • Reduce our ORIR and DART rate annually;
  • 99% of near misses identified, reported and mitigated within 30 days of their occurrence;
  • 100% of our contractors and vendors will be approved in accordance with the Contractor Safety Qualification Practice and held accountable to our Safety Standards;
  • Complete all specific Serious Injury or Fatality incident corrective actions within 30 days across the business;
  • 100% of all American Water and Contractor serious injuries and fatalities (SIF incidents) will be reviewed with corrective action plans established and communicated across the business within seven days, and appropriate corrective actions implemented within 30 days; and
  • Achieve a year-over-year increase in preventative care exams across our workforce.

We measure and report numerous health and safety metrics in accordance with GRI. For more information, please see our GRI Content Index.

Our relentless focus on safety continues to produce positive results. In 2020, we recorded our fourth consecutive year of record safety performance, achieving the lowest injury rate in our company’s history. Through December 2020, we had further reduced our recordable injury rate to 0.99, approximately 81% better than industry average.

Looking ahead, in 2021 our National Safety Council will increase its focus on emotional safety in the workplace. Additional priorities will include new employee onboarding and safety training, CEO Safety Awards and Safety Week activities.