At Tampa Electric and across TECO Energy, safety is our top priority. Given some of the work we do to serve the community with 99.9 percent reliability, it’s easy to see why. And while in some ways, safety achievement might seem easy to overlook – after all, it’s about ending the day with exactly what you started with – we don’t overlook it at all.
And neither does the Southeastern Electric Exchange (SEE), a non-profit, non-political trade association of investor-owned electric utility companies, which has recognized Tampa Electric’s Support Services division as the first-place finisher for 2015 among all SEE members.
This is incredible news! The Support Services category is the most competitive in the SEE safety performance rankings. TECO’s Support Services group includes our Information Technology & Telecom and Facilities Management departments as well as a lot of high-mileage drivers in Customer Services. Our Telecom team alone maintains Tampa Electric’s 750 miles of fiber optic cable and 120 miles of copper cable infrastructure, using bucket trucks and other heavy equipment to do so, including in environments like each of our three power plants and nearly all of our 250 substations. And while it might be easy to overlook some areas of Support Services due to the traditionally low incidence rate that we log every year, we take to heart that accidents of all kinds can happen anywhere at any time. It proves that safety engagement is necessary, no matter what job you perform at TECO Energy!
It’s important to emphasize that while we celebrate this award, along with the commitment to staying safe that every TECO team member brings to his or her life, on and off the job, there’s no time to relax or sit back and admire the honor. That’s because safety, of course, requires constant vigilance: the slightest oversight or lack of focus could lead to problems big and small.
What the award shows, however, is that the many measures we’ve implemented over the years – and those we continue to seek out – are paying off. With our near-miss reporting system, TECO team members must make note of accidents that almost happened but didn’t. This increases awareness for all of us. We conduct daily safety meetings, discuss lessons learned and hone our best practices. We adopt new equipment to keep our people safe, and if you see us working in your neighborhood, you might notice that we always walk the “circle of safety” around our vehicles to check for any hidden dangers before we get in and go, with urgency, to the next task that needs our attention as we serve you.
It all adds up to a big job – reliably powering one of the largest metropolitan areas in the nation – made even bigger with our focus on doing that with utmost attention on keeping the company team members who serve you safe.
Congratulations to everyone at TECO for living our highest value, safety, and to our Support Services team members for their great achievement. And thanks to the community for doing your part to stay safe around electrical infrastructure, for letting us know if you see a situation we need to address, and for being the ones we’re proud to serve – safely.
Mark Downing is TECO’s corporate safety director.