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OPUC posts best safety record in over a decade

Utility has gone over 35,000 hours without a lost-time incident

A focus on safety has led the Oshawa Power and Utilities Corporation down a path to the best safety record it has seen in over 10 years. (Photo by Joel Wittnebel)

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

The Oshawa Power and Utilities Corporation closed out last year without a single lost-time injury, marking nearly 300,000 hours of work time without such an incident, and the first time they’ve done so in over 10 years.

The details were shared in the latest quarterly filings of the OPUC with Oshawa city council, however, Ivano Labricciosa, the president and CEO of the local utility, tells The Oshawa Express that the total is actually much higher now as the OPUC has continued that safety record in 2018, surpassing over 350,000 hours of work with no lost-time injuries.

“It really reflects on the people and the approach we’re really taking on safety,” Labricciosa says.

This is also in contrast to the trend across the services sector which, according to statistics from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board Ontario, has some of the highest rates of claims than any other industry.

According to WSIB data from 2016, the services sector accounted for 32 per cent of lost time claims in the province, ahead of health care at 16 per cent and manufacturing at 15 per cent.

The newest record for the OPUC is a small stepping stone toward the utility’s long-standing total set approximately 15 years ago when the OPUC had gone nearly 1 million hours without a lost time incident, a span of almost eight years.

It’s a goal they’re working toward Labricciosa says.

“We are looking to go back to sort of capture our achievements of the past,” he says.

In a profession with a high proportion of risk, especially when dealing with power outages or downed wires, Labricciosa says attentiveness is paramount, and the safety record speaks to the role of the leaders across the organization.

However, he recognizes that at times near misses can happen, and moving forward it’s about learning from those mistakes.

“When an accident happens it’s a history lesson,” Labricciosa says. “Our focus has been on staying current, staying in the moment, making sure you’re not taking shortcuts or letting your mind slip while you’re doing your work.”