We invited award-winning Edmonton journalist, Curtis Gillespie, to interview leaders and members of Team EPCOR to provide a unique perspective on our role and commitment to ESG. For this article, Curtis spoke with Duane Duhamel to learn more about EPCOR's safety culture.
Safe and sound
Safety and passion might not seem natural partners at first glance, since we often equate safety with caution and passion with abandon. But for Duane Duhamel, EPCOR's Director of Health, Safety and Environment (HSE), safety and passion are not only linked but mutually reinforcing. To him, EPCOR's people aren't going to feel as passionate about their work if they don't feel safe and cared for, and they're not going to be as safe at work if the organization isn't passionate about health and safety. It's got to flow both ways to flourish.
Duhamel just celebrated his second year with EPCOR, but prior to that he worked with significant companies in the utilities, energy, petrochemical and aerospace sectors. His experience has led him to draw some fundamental conclusions. “EPCOR believes in safety," he says. “The fact that this portfolio reports to an executive at the leadership table is one sign among many that they take it extremely seriously."
HSE is a core component of everything EPCOR does. If you ask its employees what they do, you'd get thousands of answers. If you ask about overarching priorities, you'd get fundamentally similar answers: every employee safe at work and every customer safe at home.
It's also worth noting in light of the pandemic that safety is psychological as well as physical. EPCOR has been mindful, for instance, of the mental health and work-life balance of employees, both those who continued to work on site and the 1,900 staff who have been working from home, which carries a different kind of emotional and professional pressure. It wasn't just about checking in, either. Extra Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was made available to employees. Care kits, including masks and sanitary supplies, were delivered to employees who were working from home. EPCOR COVID Health Outlook (ECHO), a mobile-supported online health screening tool, helped give employees assurance about their health at work.
“All in all,” says Duhamel, “we can be proud that 2020 was actually our best year ever, from an injury prevention perspective. The maturity of our culture and the existing processes we have in place was part of it, but the pandemic also brought a heightened sense of awareness about safety and health."