WHITE PLAINS — Employee health and safety was a priority for the New York Power Authority in 2021, and will continue to be a top focus this year.
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Joseph F. Kessler told NYPA trustees this week that one of the areas the authority emphasized was dealing with COVID-19.
“We’ve been briefing the board regularly throughout the year. But, just to re-emphasize that our COVID Incident Command Structure, ICS, and response has been very effective. We’ve been trying to ramp back some of the restrictions,” Mr. Kessler said.
NYPA has continued to deal with the omicron and delta variants of the novel coronavirus.
Mr. Kessler said there has been coordination across the authority to protect employee health, as well as to use technology and supply relationships to deploy testing as needed.
In addition, he said, NYPA has offered vaccines for COVID-19 and the flu at on-site clinics, and uses various communication channels to ensure employees are following safety protocols at work. He said that, while offering COVID-19 vaccinations, NYPA maintained its regular schedule of flu vaccination “to make sure that not only our employees, but their families and friends outside the organization are safe as well.”
In another facet of health and safety, he said there was a collaboration on health and safety programs throughout the authority. That included a review of NYPA’s Occupational Health Program, development of an Electric Safety Program and formation of an Incident Review Board.
“That’s not to say we did not have an electrical safety program. Of course we have and we’ve developed that over 60 years. But, we made great strides in 2021 in pulling all that together and sharing best practices amongst each other to really make that a further enhancement,” Mr. Kessler said.
He said that focus wasn’t important to just NYPA employees, but also contractors .
“We have a significant capital budget now and a significant number of contractors supporting the work that we’re trying to accomplish, and we hold them to the highest expectation of safety as well,” he said.
Looking ahead to this year’s focus areas, Mr. Kessler said the authority will be procuring some employee health and safety technical software. That, he said, will serve as a foundation for enhancing NYPA’s Occupational Health Program.
“This is going to allow us to more globally and in real time track our trends on safety and report things,” he said.
NYPA will also use enhanced job briefings that include development of a new policy for all sites and standardizing documentation across all sites.
Updating the authority’s hearing conservation policy will also be a focus in 2022. That will include aligning procedures at all sites and reviewing optimum hearing protection for all employees.
Mr. Kessler said everything has been done in collaboration with the NYPA’s labor partners, including the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Utility Union Workers of America.
“They’ve been extremely collaborative with us and we couldn’t have accomplished any of this without them,” he said.