E.ON AG is the world's largest investor-owned energy services provider with 90,000 employees and nearly the same amount of contractors in 30 countries around the world. E.ON's goal is to be the leading power and natural gas company, which it strives to achieve through the acquisition of existing assets and the organic growth of new investments. E.ON's priority, however, is to ensure the well-being of its employees, business partners and the public through world-class safety performance.
Managing and advancing safety in any organization is challenging, but this is especially true for an international energy company in which potential high risks and hazards are natural parts of the business. The challenge is compounded by differences in E.ON's multi-faceted businesses and operations, as well as the diverse regulatory and legal requirements, financial environments, local cultures, attitudes and behaviors around the world. Yet, the challenges present unique learning opportunities and sharing of best practices that are afforded to few organizations.
This paper addresses some of the differences in safety practices and behaviors that exist in E.ON's diverse territories. The levels of safety performance in E.ON organizations range from world-class to unacceptable. The latter has resulted from ingrained local practices, which are antiquated compared to U.S. and Western European standards. Using best practices from E.ON's top-performing organizations, the company is working diligently to transform areas with substantial safety issues. E.ON is making financial investments and providing safety experts, education and training to improve hazardous conditions, infrastructures and employees' safety work ethic. In addition, the company must overcome age-old traditions, beliefs, poverty and regulatory guidelines. E.ON has learned from experience, however, that the most effective way to improve safety is to devote time to change worker behavior. In this paper, four E.ON safety leaders draw from their international experiences to share an eye-opening perspective on global safety issues as well as world-class achievements within E.ON organizations.
E.ON AG is based in Germany and operates businesses along the entire energy value chain, including gas production, electricity generation, energy transmission and distribution, and retail services for customers. In addition, the company is actively involved in energy research and exploration, engineering activities and construction around the world. These operations are organized geographically or functionally in market and business units and are aligned with the structure of respective target markets. E.ON pursues a value-oriented management approach aimed at enhancing competitiveness and delivering profitable growth and safety. Among the countries in which E.ON has operations are Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States as well as on the continents of Africa and Asia.
E.ON generates electricity using a variety of energy sources. They range from nuclear reactors to hydropower to fossil plants around the world that burn diverse fuels, including coal, oil, peat, biomass, waste and natural gas.