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Occupational Health & Safety

Why It Matters

Safety is more than just “the right thing to do”—it is a core company value and strategy. Our employees’ and contractors’ health is a leading indicator of our company’s health. Simply put, we have to get safety right, before we can get everything else right.

As a value, safety means caring about our employees, contractors and customers—our goal is for everyone to feel safe at work. Every day, our employees should return home in the same, or better, condition as they were 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. With healthy and injury free employees, we perform well as a business, lower our operating costs and increase employee morale.

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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 how we perform our jobs each day. By successfully working together and caring for each other, we believe we can achieve excellent health and safety performance and zero incidents.

To uphold our commitment, we invested nearly 80,000 hours in employee safety training in 2018. Through frequent labor-management meetings across the company, we encourage open exchanges to explore new ways to further enhance safety on the job. If it takes longer to do a task safely, employees are empowered to take the time they need. In addition, we empower our employees to stop working whenever they think a task is unsafe, and address the hazard or issue with management—this authority is provided on the back of every employee’s identification badge.

Safety is both a core value and a strategy at American Water. Our employees’ and contractors’ health is a leading indicator of our company’s health.

Policies

Our Health and Safety Policy provides the requirements and responsibilities to implement and manage effective health and safety programs that support the best possible working conditions for our employees: continuous safety program improvement; reduction of occupational injuries and illnesses; and compliance with regulations.

On our journey to zero injuries, we strive for continual improvement and listen to employee and contractor feedback regarding our policies and practices.

AmWater Badge

Responsibility

At American Water, we hold everyone accountable, not only for their own safety but for the safety of others. All employees need to actively engage in safety and understand that we embed safety in everything we do. This accountability extends to our contractors as well. We equip every employee and contractor with a Stop Work Authority card, empowering everyone to identify and stop potentially unsafe work without reprimand or criticism.

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Occupational Health & Safety Governance

At the organizational level, our Chief Operating Officer provides guidance and leadership and is ultimately accountable for our OHS performance and culture. Our Executive Leadership Team, including our Vice President of Safety Leadership, champions our safety strategy and develops our implementation plans to achieve zero injuries. Each state and business is accountable for strategy implementation and day-to-day OHS management.

National Safety Council

Our National Safety Council is comprised of employees across our business representing our operations and functions, including union-represented employees. The Council reports to our Executive Leadership Team. The primary responsibilities of the Safety Council include evaluating safety related events of mutual concern across the business and making recommendations for improvement. We address and resolve the majority of safety concerns at the local level, and we have many local safety committees across our footprint. These committees support the National Safety Council, raise concerns that require further evaluation and complete proactive safety action items to improve the local safety culture and work environment.

The Safety, Environmental, Technology & Operations Committee

The Safety, Environmental, Technology & Operations Committee of the Board of Directors is responsible for OHS oversight at American Water. This Committee oversees significant policies, practices and performance related to matters of health and safety for employees, customers, contractors, communities and the public. Additionally, the Safety, Environmental, Technology & Operations Committee monitors our safety strategy, leading and lagging company safety metric performance, potential significant injuries or near misses, compliance with safety regulations and our safety culture quarterly by bringing in frontline management and hourly employees to talk about their personal safety experiences.

By successfully working together, we believe we can achieve excellent health and safety performance and zero incidents.

Occupational Health & Safety Management System

We voluntarily implemented an occupational health and safety management system to enable our employees and contractors to operate safely, efficiently and in compliance with Federal, State and local laws and regulations. We regularly review and amend the management system to ensure continuous improvement. We also compile and align our OHS data to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Occupational Recordable Incident Rate (ORIR) and Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIFR) formulas.

Our journey to zero injuries requires building and maintaining a sustainable and positive safety culture through leadership, employee engagement and foundational programs and practices. Our OHS Management System provides the framework to execute our safety strategy and achieve a zero accident and injury culture. Under our Health and Safety Charter, we hold all employees and contractors to the same high standard of safety accountability for themselves, co-workers and the communities we work in. We engage all management and hourly (union/non-union) employees in our safety management system through our Certified Safe Worker program and Near Miss reporting program. We expect everyone to engage in the OHS programs and encourage our employees to provide feedback, no matter their level within the company.

To identify and prevent safety risks, we conduct injury analyses, determine trends and implement preventative or corrective actions processes. For example, our analyses indicate ergonomics and body mechanics as our most common risk and type of injury. Therefore, we place a significant focus on the education and prevention of musculoskeletal injuries.

Safety Strategy

Zero Incidents & Injuries
Safety Strategy

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Hazard Identification

To identify hazards and assess risks before work begins, employees conduct daily safety toolbox talks and pre-job safety briefings. These briefings give employees time to step back, think about and plan the work that needs to be performed; identify safety hazards; and formulate strategies to mitigate or minimize these hazards. Also, supervisors and employees conduct job site inspections and observations to identify potential safety hazards and provide feedback on safe/unsafe behaviors.

Hazard Identification
Indiana American Water Wins Award

Indiana American Water Wins AWWA’s National Utility Safety Award

Indiana American Water won the Wendell R. LaDue Class III (100–500 employees) Utility Safety Award from the AWWA for performance in 2018. The award, established in 1919, recognizes distinguished water utility safety programs annually.

Indiana American Water earned this award in recognition of its employees’ commitment, involvement and accountability to working safely and preventing injuries. In particular, Indiana American Water was recognized for its progress toward a zero injury culture and increased employee engagement and empowerment resulting from actively involving the company’s workforce in finding safety solutions.

“There is nothing more important than ensuring our employees make it home every day in the same condition that they come to work,” said Indiana American Water President Matthew Prine. “We appreciate our employees’ dedication to working safely and are honored to accept this award on their behalf.”

Incident Investigation

To uphold our best practices and high-performance safety cultures, we investigate all safety incidents and document the root cause and corrective actions. The requirement is to complete the initial investigation within three business days of the occurrence and implement interim and/or permanent corrective actions.

Since inception, over 18,000 near misses have been reported. Through July 2019, more than 99% of corrective actions were completed within 30 days.

Near Misses

We empower our employees and contractors to report near miss safety incidents anonymously via phone to our Security Hotline, through a personal computer or a tablet/smartphone proprietary Safety App. Our management team investigates and implements corrective actions to prevent potential future injuries. We monitor near misses and associated corrective actions and report summaries to leadership on a monthly basis, and to the Safety, Environment, Technology & Operations Committee on a quarterly basis, while also expecting employees to take immediate mitigating corrective actions. As a company, the annual corporate goal is to complete 97% of these corrective actions within 30 days of the incident. Since inception, over 18,000 near misses have been reported. Through July 2019, more than 99% of corrective actions were completed within 30 days.

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Occupational Health Services

To support and encourage health and wellness outside of the workplace, American Water employees have access to our wellness program, Healthy Solutions. In January 2020, we will be enhancing our current program to provide an interactive and individualized wellness portal providing integrated tools focused on Physical, Emotional, Financial, Safety and Community Health. Program members and their families can take confidential health assessments and benefit from integrated tools to provide a holistic view of overall health and wellbeing to achieve their health goals.

Beginning in January 2020, our Corporate Headquarters in Camden, NJ will provide employees access to a Health Center. The center will be physician-driven, providing primary care, urgent care, condition management, and preventative screening services. For our other locations, we utilize and partner with local clinics for similar services.

To take care of our employees, we use Travelers for Industrial Hygiene (IH) testing, ergonomic training and evaluations and more. Many of our sites utilize routine physical therapist visits who provide guidance on ergonomic questions and concerns, conduct observations and provide training and coaching.

Additional resources at our Corporate Headquarters location include an on-site 24/7 fitness center, where employees have the option to participate on a membership basis for a nominal monthly fee. The fitness center is staffed daily by our partners and offers cardio and strength training equipment, daily classes, full locker rooms with showers, and gender-neutral locker rooms. Employees are also encouraged to use alternative forms of transportation to commute to work, and the fitness center hosts a bicycle storage room to help facilitate alternative commuting and promote wellness both inside the gym and out.

Occupational Health

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Occupational Health & Safety Training

OHS is necessary for a safe working environment and is essential for the overall well-being of our employees. At American Water, every employee—regardless of job category classification—receives the training they need to perform their jobs safely and successfully. We strive to provide training for employees through instructor-led sessions or on-line trainings through our LEARN system.

Management supports employee-led safety programs and understands their importance to driving safety improvements across our company, including our union employee-led training program, Systems of Safety, in partnership with Power for America and the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA). This training is a unique union-developed, employee-focused program that encourages communication and collaboration on safety related events between management and employees. The program exemplifies our safety strategy of empowering employees and fostering a collaborative environment focused on zero incidents.

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Communication

To promote worker participation, involvement and communication, we have local safety committees across our footprint that are inclusive of both front-line and management employees that meet at least monthly.

When developing our OHS management system, we solicited input from union representatives and employees at all levels. To keep employees up to date on OHS events and developments, we provide consistent communication to our workforce. Our communication strategy employs multiple approaches, including a weekly safety video on incidents, near misses, new equipment, tools, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), technology and best practices. We distribute the video across our entire organization and track viewership numbers. Throughout the business, managers and supervisors also have daily, weekly and monthly safety meetings to discuss and listen to employee concerns and feedback.

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Splash Points (our weekly emails) and Splash TV are two other ways we constantly communicate safety. Splash Points highlight safety accomplishments, incidents and new equipment, tools, PPE and technology developments across the organization. Similarly, Splash TV communicates safety topics through rotating slide shows and videos shown throughout the day in central locations at most of our operating centers. Lastly, we host bi-monthly leadership conference calls that include our Executive Leadership Team, state and business presidents, Operations Vice Presidents, Engineering, functional leads and safety professionals. The leadership conference call reviews safety performance, communicates key safety information, reviews new policies and practices, discusses safety related events of mutual concern and receives feedback from Operations.

Enterprise Security Risk Management

As a company that provides water and wastewater services, the protection of our facilities, technology systems and customer and employee information is a top priority and focus. Our goals and focus of our program are:

  • Ensure the cybersecurity of our operational technology systems;
  • Safeguard the physical security of our employees, facilities and assets;
  • Maintain compliance with security and data privacy regulations; and
  • Provide support and leadership to our operations teams in emergency response and business continuity activities.

Our security team conducts regular internal security reviews and partners with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on external security assessments, using the results to develop improvement initiatives and further enhance security controls of company assets and systems. Central to our protection model is our advanced 24/7 Integrated Operations Center (IOC). The IOC monitors American Water’s security and technology systems; continuously tracks weather alerts, security threats and intelligence; and serves as a key collaboration point for operations, leadership and functional teams.

Risk & Resilience Assessments

As required under the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, we are in the process of completing detailed risk assessments and mitigation plans for all our public water systems that serve a population of at least 3,300. We are using an “all hazards” approach to risk assessment based on the methodology outlined in the AWWA J100 standard. Through this approach, our assessments incorporate various risk scenarios, which consider events such as extreme weather, source water contamination and malevolent threats. These assessments help us identify potential solutions to manage identified risks.

As a company that provides water and wastewater services, the protection of our facilities, technology systems and customer and employee information is a top priority and focus.

Cyber & Digital Security

Technology solutions are vital to reliable and resilient water systems. For that reason, cybersecurity is core to our vision of resiliency and sustainability. As we continue to implement intelligent water and wastewater systems, we ensure that industry-leading cyber controls are designed, built and integrated into all aspects of our technology. These controls protect our existing systems, and enable the implementation of secure innovation. Enhancing the customer experience while safeguarding the integrity of company information and systems is our security mission. Our cybersecurity program is consistent with industry best practices, including NIST Cybersecurity Framework and AWWA Process Control System Security Guidance for the Water Sector.

Training & Exercises

We have security awareness employee trainings for physical and cybersecurity risks, incident response and emergency preparedness. This training reinforces the shared responsibility for security with all employees, contractors and visitors, and supports a safe and secure work environment. Although we work hard to prevent incidents from happening, we must also prepare for them. Practice exercises are a powerful way to bring solid planning and years of experience to bear on the new and diverse challenges we face. We hosts dozens of preparedness exercises across our business annually, while also participating in regional and national level exercises with state and federal partners. In addition to our state level operations, our Executive Leadership Team and Board of Directors also engage in these exercises.

Not only do these activities enhance readiness, they often identify opportunities for increased operational efficiency. We have established a business continuity framework across the company, bringing functional and operational teams together for the purpose of reducing risk and enhancing resiliency. As part of the framework, we adopted the nationally recognized National Incident Management System, which enables unified emergency response and close, effective coordination with emergency management in the communities we serve. We also participate in the Water/Wastewater Agency Response Networks by responding to emergencies (delivering water, loaning equipment, etc.) or receiving aid from other water purveyors in case of emergencies.

Partnerships & Leadership

Demonstrating external leadership and fostering effective partnerships is key to our internal success and to making improvements to security across the water and wastewater sector. We partner with environmental organizations, public service commissions, state fusion centers, the DHS and Federal Bureau of Investigation to share information and promote security best practices. We also take a leadership role in advancing security and resiliency of the water and wastewater sector through participation in key working groups, such as the Water Sector Coordinating Council (WSCC). Together with other utilities and the U.S. EPA, we collaborate in a public-private partnership to plan and implement programs aimed at achieving a common goal.

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Our Performance

We are dedicated to consistently improving our OHS performance. We analyze our OHS data to look for trends and common injuries, perform a root cause analysis, and then implement improvements following the Plan, Do, Check, Act principle. Our ultimate goal is zero employee and contractor incidents. We set several annual goals to track our improvement:

1. Reduce our recordable injury rate and days away, restricted or transferred (DART) rate by 20% from 2018 results.

2. 97% of near misses identified, reported and mitigated within 30 days of their occurrence.

3. Our contractors to perform at the same ORIR or better.

4. Complete all potential Serious Injury or Fatality incident corrective actions within 30 days across the business.

Employee Safety Performance Chart

We track numerous health and safety metrics; see 403-9 in the GRI Content Index for details.

As a result of our continued focus on safety, we have made significant progress towards our zero injuries goal, reducing workplace injuries by 50% over the past five years, and our 2018 safety performance was the best in our recorded history. To date through July 2019, we have further reduced our recordable injury rate to 1.06, approximately 60% better than industry average.