Focus on safety
Bell is focused on the safety and security of all team members, especially those who operate in a wide variety of environments, including data centres, manholes, telephone poles, cell towers and vehicles. We work continuously to maintain effective processes and the flexibility to avoid injury, service interruption, fines and reputational impact. We also provide team members with a process to manage health and safety complaints and accidents as well as training and accident prevention tools.
Our company’s business model has an impact on the potential health and safety risks to team members. Unlike many communications companies, Bell is vertically integrated, meaning that the people who construct our networks across the company are mostly Bell team members, not contractors. Due to the nature of network construction work, especially in difficult terrain and weather, these team members face risks administrative and call centre team members do not. In 2016, data for Bell Aliant was integrated into the overall calculation. Our overall accident frequency for 2016 is 1.06 – stable year over year.
With the maturing of our health and safety management system, in 2016 we implemented Corporate Safety Action Plans within targeted lines of business. We will continue to roll out the action plans with the objective of establishing a reliable and effective set of prevention strategies.
We have centralized our incident investigation process to improve consistency across our program. This increases the quality of our trend analysis, allowing us to focus on developing and implementing prevention strategies. Over 2016, we have identified incidents involving ladders as an area to address.
In addition, we continued our efforts to address slip-and- fall accidents, implementing equipment (footwear) to mitigate risks for our technicians who work in the field. We will maintain focus in this area as we saw a slight increase in such accidents, from 125 in 2015 to 130 in 2016.
We made significant progress with our contractor safety program, rolling out our prequalification tool across the company. More than 700 contractors are part of the system. Through the prequalification process, we reduced the number of contractors performing high-risk activities by approximately 14%.
To help us meet or exceed all Transportation Safety Board requirements, we engaged an independent subject matter expert who reviewed 98% of Bell-owned helicopter landing sites accessible only by air. This review found that the vast majority of our sites are in excellent shape with a small number requiring minor ongoing maintenance such as clearing vegetation.
We also evaluated the safety programs of our main helicopter services providers to determine that they comply with industry-best practices and standards. We complemented this exercise by creating a Flight Hazard Assessment form that will be used by the pilots and our team members travelling by helicopter on each flight segment. This form is being trialed in Newfoundland and Labrador with implementation expected in 2017.