Coaching and Collaborating Key to Sucess

The CEO of the New York Power Authority shares his view of of the role management and employees play in safety.

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) has won the American Public Power Association''s top safety award for the nation''s largest publicly owned utilities for each of the past five years. NYPA President and CEO Eugene W. Zeltmann attributes the wins and the company''s safety record to "personal accountability coupled with ongoing vigilance."

Zeltmann told a group at a meeting of the New York State Public Utility Safety Directors Association, "Safety isn''t the responsibility of a single person, but requires a concerted effort by all people within an organization."

He said safety efforts at NYPA involve not only workers, but management at all levels, up to the most senior executives. "At the Power Authority, I believe that senior-level commitment and support have been absolutely essential to establishing an effective safety and health program," commented Zeltmann. NYPA''s outstanding worker safety record reflects management''s commitment to "caring, coaching and collaborating," he added.

Supervisors and managers believe in coaching as a way to build awareness of safety issues, he said. "A good coach obviously wants to get the job done," he told the group. "But a good coach puts workers first. He or she consistently strives to help employees develop safe working habits and recognizes that while doing the job is important, doing it safely is even more so."

Collaborating, he said, includes building relationships with federal and state safety agencies, in addition to those built between management and employees.

NYPA has undertaken various initiatives to support safety efforts, including sharing information among its facilities, benchmarking safety performance against other organizations, and communicating with employees through an intranet Web page.

"Because we care about our employees, we aggressively address hazardous conditions and reckless approaches that may endanger them as they work to help the Power Authority attain its goals," said Zeltmann.

by Sandy Smith

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