Safety and Health

Avista’s Central Safety Council is committed to providing the safest workplace possible and a safe environment for all of our employees, their families and the communities we serve. It reports quarterly to the Energy, Environmental and Operations Committee of Avista’s Board of Directors.

The Central Safety Council’s mission is to act as a forum to provide leadership and direction to the safety efforts; advocate the steps needed to achieve safety goals; coordinate, monitor and focus on safety and prevention, and ensure proper action will be taken to provide a safe and healthy work environment for all our employees.

There are 37 location-specific safety committees and safety chairs throughout Avista’s service territory.

Rates of injury, occupational disease, lost days and absenteeism and number of work-related fatalities.
  2010 2009 2008 2007
Vehicle incidents per miles driven (rate per million miles driven) 7.8 9.16 9.14 7.03
Work-related injury rate (rate per 200,000 hours worked) 3.73 4.27 4.52 5.08
Lost time incident rate (rate per 200,000 hours worked) 1.68 1.62 1.35 1.67
Employee fatalities 0 0 1 0

Public Safety

Avista has an active public safety program with elements that cover our electric, gas and hydro facilities. The goal of these programs is to eliminate and reduce public contact with natural gas, electric distribution and hydroelectric facilities that can cause harm to the public. The program includes:

  • TV, radio and print advertising;
  • Safety training programs for fire, police, public officials and community organizations;
  • Safety mailings and brochures to first responders, customers, excavation contractors, schools, public officials, crop dusters, plumbers, and all addresses adjacent to natural gas transmission lines;
  • School programs for gas, electric and hydro safety; and
  • Safety information, programs and messages on the Avista and Avista Kids web sites.

Call Before You Dig—811

Public Safety Dig-In Reporting
  2010 Goal 2010 Actual 2009 Goal 2009 Actual 2008 Goal 2008 Actual 2007 Goal 2007 Actual
Dig-ins to Avista’s system by others 460 583 533 484 706 575 694 782
Avista dig-ins to other utility systems 52 89 62 55 79 69 64 88

Avista participates in the Common Ground Alliance and is active in the efforts to eliminate and reduce contact with underground gas and electric lines.

Electric and Magnetic Fields—Public Health issue

We are surrounded by electric and magnetic fields in our daily lives, and we are exposed to these fields in varying intensity all day long. Electric and magnetic fields (EMF) are created by electric transmission and distribution equipment, household wiring, and all electronic devices, including common household appliances.

This makes it important that we understand as much as we can about the possible effects of exposure to electric and magnetic fields. In this environment, we recognize our public obligation to continue to monitor and support EMF health research and proceedings, to lend our resources and support to the collection and distribution of comprehensive information, and to develop responsible public policies related to the issue of EMF.

To help accomplish this, Avista has taken the following measures:

  • Initiated a program to monitor EMF research and proceedings so that up-to-date information is available to its technical staff and management;
  • Committed to providing comprehensive information on this issue to its customers and members of the public;
  • Assembled an EMF working group to monitor information, develop responsible policies, and initiate appropriate programs and response to public concern; and
  • Put in place a program to measure EMF levels in homes in response to concerns expressed by customers.

Employee Preparation and Assistance

In the event of widespread illness, Avista has a pandemic emergency plan in place that includes work force, community and family assistance elements. The plan was created to provide employees with information, support and policy guidance prior to, during and following a regional pandemic event that impacts our ability to provide services to our communities. Coordinated response procedures are instrumental in effectively maintaining our customer services during a long-term pandemic event.

In addition, employees and families receive education, training, counseling, treatment and prevention/risk control opportunities through the Occupational Health Department and the company health and wellness programs. The company provides an Employee Assistance Program, the Safe Start program which focuses on safety awareness, and a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA). Onsite work-out facilities are provided in many locations. Avista maintains an on-site clinic in the main office with occupational and safety professionals available to serve all locations.

Health and safety topics covered in formal agreements with trade unions

Avista has the intent and commitment to follow all federal, state and local regulations and compliance programs. We work with our craft representatives to promote safety from the foremen to their crews. The Labor/Management Committee meets quarterly or as needed to address problems and concerns. The union contracts also include grievance and arbitration language to deal with safety concerns or complaints.

Policies and requirements regarding health and safety of employees and employees of contractors and subcontractors

Avista is under the jurisdiction of numerous regulatory agencies for employee safety, including Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Washington Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), Oregon Department of Occupational Safety and Health (OREOSHA), and the Department of Transportation (DOT). Our Safety Handbook includes an accident prevention plan as well as safety rules and practices for the different operating units. In addition, Avista has Standards Manuals that include safe work practices materials and procedures for building our systems.

There are numerous training programs conducted internally and externally as required for employee and contractor safety by OSHA, DOT, DOSH and OREOSHA. A combination of instructor led, third-party and online training programs are used throughout the year to keep employees properly trained and safe.

Avista supplies personal protective equipment for employees for the jobs, including the tools, equipment and machinery required to perform their jobs safely. Ergonomic equipment is used whenever possible to reduce potential injuries. Contractors and sub-contractors are required to follow all regulatory rules and regulations as they relate to personal protective equipment when working on Avista systems.

Other programs that ensure a safe workplace include:

  • A substance abuse prevention program, including pre-employment, random, for-cause and post-incident segments;
  • Operator Qualification training for gas employees to insure safe operation of gas systems;
  • OSHA required training in craft work areas; and
  • Pre-job review and orientation for contractors awarded bids on Avista properties.