Xcel Energy values our relationships with excavators and celebrates the hard work they do to build this country’s infrastructure in a way that protects public safety every day and every time they get to the job site. We recognize companies that invest in a damage prevention plan, train employees and follow best practices, ensuring every employee arrives home safe. We also appreciate companies that have had underground damages but want to partner through education to drive better performance to enhance employee and public safety.
Education is at the center of our program, and in addition to day-to-day outreach, our damage prevention team identifies excavators with more than two damages within 12 months to create a targeted outreach list. Our department works with their leadership to either begin or advance our relationship by offering to educate and support damage prevention efforts at their company. We provide formal presentations that cover the one call law, industry best practices and what to do in the event a gas or electric line is damaged. Our presentations can be given at the company’s location, an Xcel Energy office or in the field if requested – everywhere from formal business centers to pole barns. We also provide ongoing support and encouragement throughout the year at their job sites.
Measuring our impact and progress is another facet of our program. We set year-end targets for all excavators on our list by measuring damages per 1000 tickets ratio compared to the previous year. Because specific excavators might perform different work from others on the list, have varying volumes of locate requests, and face different challenges, we compare each company’s results to their previous year’s performance. Additionally, they all roll up into a department target where we can measure our overall impact. A monthly review of each company’s performance, along with how many touchpoint meetings we’ve had with them, allows us to adjust our strategy and focus throughout the year to maximize results.
Having a written damage prevention plan is essential to any company performing excavation, and we have found a number of companies who have never had one. We offer to review their current plan, provide feedback, and in some cases have worked to help create one. We also discuss the value that Xcel Energy has found through our executive support of the Gold Shovel Standard Certification and where it might be beneficial to their dam age prevention efforts. We are more than a utility provider; we are also an excavator and how we perform excavation has an impact on public safety as well. The Gold Shovel Standard has helped us to ensure that every front-line employee has had annual training around one call laws, best practices, and stop work responsibility. It has enhanced our accountability for corrective action, the process for root cause analysis and a consistent reporting process.
It has been said many times that damage prevention is a shared responsibility and this necessitates an investment in relationships. At Xcel Energy, having a supplemental program that ensures we make the most of our limited resources has made a significant impact. We understand there are a lot of challenges for excavators, from congestion to complicated and lengthy jobs. The stakes are too high to dismiss the value of connections, resources, and accountability.
Alicia Berger is Manager, Planning and Operational Performance with Xcel Energy. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Esther Williams is Senior Operations Manager, Damage Prevention with Xcel Energy. She can be reached at email@example.com