Building and maintaining critical energy infrastructure can involve serious risk to workers’ safety. To advance continuous improvement in its safety outcomes, National Grid undertook a full review of safety incident history in 2019 for the company’s New England and New York gas complex construction division.
Through this process, National Grid identified an opportunity to provide field teams and supervisors additional support for hazard recognition. In New York, supervisors responsible for worker safety were overseeing 35 to 40 large-scale projects each year, with each project often spanning multiple locations. New England was developing 10 to 20 projects each year. Taken together, the cost of these construction projects totals over $500 million a year. The tight schedule and large scale of these projects has the potential to leave safety hazards unrecognized, despite best practices.
“[Field teams] have a conversation around ‘What’s the work we’re going to do today? What are the hazards that could show up today?’ And then, ‘How do we mitigate those hazards?’” says Walter Fromm, vice-president of gas asset management and engineering.
“All of that’s done through conversation and through the experience of the people on site. And because they’re all human beings, they might miss something.”
Even the most experienced workers can only identify 45% of worksite hazards on their own. National Grid needed a solution that augmented supervisors’ expertise with advanced technology to help crews identify more hazards and implement more direct controls to mitigate them. They also needed a tool that centralized this information to share with all supervisors and field crews across all project locations.
National Grid partnered with Urbint to deploy its Urbint for Worker Safety solution across its complex gas pipeline construction projects in New York and Massachusetts.
Urbint for Worker Safety leverages artificial intelligence and safety science to identify the highest-risk safety threats to workers — days in advance. The solution draws on comprehensive data to calculate the risk of a work activity resulting in a SIF, including utility historical data, work schedules, environmental conditions, the Energy Wheel, and EEI’s Safety Classification and Learning model of high-energy hazards. By analyzing this information, Urbint for Worker Safety is able to deliver insights around which upcoming work activities are disproportionately likely to result in a SIF (and which ones can safely proceed). Understanding the real exposure that workers face, National Grid staff and contractors are empowered to take preventive actions to keep them safe, such as implementing a direct control, stopping work, or dedicating additional resources to the activities and locations where someone is most likely to get hurt.
Beyond the technology, a critical part of the solution is the partnership between Urbint and its customers. Through this close collaboration, National Grid has been able to calibrate the solution for its unique needs, implement it successfully in the field, and drive continuous improvement in safety outcomes.
“From pilot development and modifications through those supervisor feedbacks and engagements, the onsite visits … I have to say that I felt that we were receiving white-glove service,” says Clara Giustino, vice-president of New York gas complex construction.
Since 2021, National Grid has used Urbint for Worker Safety to significantly improve its safety hazard identification and mitigation.
With Urbint, National Grid field teams have been able to identify 35% more hazards present on job sites than inspectors and contractor crews are able to recognize without Urbint. Likewise, National Grid has used Urbint to propose 44% more direct controls for those hazards, creating capacity to fail safely and preventing SIFs.
Urbint for Worker Safety has also streamlined key elements of supervisors’ workflow, reducing the time spent filling out inspection paperwork. In turn, National Grid’s complex construction division has seen time savings, improved performance management, and improved contract performance.
“[Field teams] have a conversation around ‘What’s the work we’re going to do today?
What are the hazards that could show up today?’ ... Because they’re all human beings, they might miss something.”
Walter Fromm, VP of Gas Asset Management & Engineering, National Grid
Urbint is proud to partner with National Grid in innovating to keep utility workers safe.
“By stepping up and being an early adopter of this technology, National Grid is not only helping to protect workers, but also serving as an industry pioneer,” says Corey Capasso, CEO and founder of Urbint. “This is an important step toward standardizing and transforming safety across the entire industry, and National Grid is on the forefront of that.”
Together, Urbint and National Grid are pioneering a new approach to safety for utility field workers that is better protecting workers, organizations, and the community and building a world with zero safety incidents.