Making Every Day a Safe Day at SJI

By Brent Schomber, President and COO, South Jersey Gas
and Christie McMullen, President and COO, Elizabethtown Gas
At SJI Utilities, we serve a population of customers, employees and communities diverse in experience, background and thought. Therefore, our approach to safety is not a one-size-fits-all solution; instead, it is an intrinsic part of who we are as an organization. As a core value, safety unites us all under a singular vision, purpose and aspiration through our Collective Ambition. We never compromise when it comes to conducting business in a manner that protects and sustains the safety and well-being of our customers, employees and the communities we serve.

Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic

A couple of men wearing helmets and sitting at a table with papers

If anything, the past two years have shown us all just how integral safety is to any organization. As the nation continues to face unprecedented circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our company continues to show up for our employees when they need us most. South Jersey Gas, Elizabethtown Gas and our parent company, South Jersey Industries, have set forth a series of strategic initiatives, including pulse surveys to ensure our workforce’s psychological safety and well-being, ergonomics training to promote physical safety in remote work environments, and educational sessions and incentives for COVID-19 vaccinations.

Recognizing the extraordinary needs that our medical and first-responder communities face, SJI committed $100,000 in support to COVID-19 pandemic response efforts across the state, including the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund, AtlantiCare Foundation, and Trinitas Regional Medical Center. In addition, South Jersey Gas and Elizabethtown Gas suspended shut-offs for non-payment, provided customers with the tools they needed to manage their accounts remotely and temporarily suspended non-emergent work. We continue to be there for our customers when they need us most, whether answering customer service inquiries, connecting them to financial assistance resources or responding to emergencies.


Championing a “Make Every Day a Safe Day” Culture

A person giving a presentation to an audience

Across SJI’s family of companies, “Make Every Day a Safe Day” is more than just a motto — it is an organizational promise to the employees, customers and community partners we conduct business with each day. South Jersey Gas and Elizabethtown Gas constantly deploy safety-related information and tips to customers via our websites, newsletters, on-bill messages, social media, and in-person and virtual outreach. We also offer the SJI Utilities Emergency Preparedness Training program to help local emergency departments understand what to expect from our company during a natural gas-related emergency. In addition, our annual First Responders Grant Program provides vital funds to local first responder agencies in need of critical resources, such as personal protective equipment, medical and first-aid gear, and communications equipment.

A person wearing headphones looking at a picture on a wallInternally, we continue to protect the safety and well-being of our employees. Last year, SJI implemented the Safety Management System (SMS). The SMS promotes pipeline integrity, safety, and environmental protection by encouraging employees to report safety concerns and share ideas for improvements. South Jersey Gas and Elizabethtown Gas have also implemented virtual reality training modules that allow field crews to simulate various critical response situations. Employees also have access to our internal OneSJI newsletter with crucial safety information, “Safety Minute” presentations, a Safety Incentive Program, and inclusive programming that promotes psychological safety and belonging. 


Ensuring Safety Through Infrastructure Resilience

Finally, infrastructure enhancements serve as the cornerstone of our safety programming and strategic approach. South Jersey Gas and Elizabethtown Gas are currently undertaking several multi-year infrastructure investment programs to enhance service, support environmental stewardship by reducing emissions, and facilitate economic development through job creation in New Jersey.

A picture containing sky, outdoorIn 2021, South Jersey Gas completed its Accelerated Infrastructure Replacement Program, resulting in the replacement of more than 800 miles of cast iron and bare-steel main with high-efficiency PVC plastic pipe.  South Jersey Gas also recently completed the Storm Hardening and Reliability Program (SHARP II), designed to enhance the South Jersey Gas distribution system in coastal communities, generating 413 jobs throughout its execution. Similarly, the Elizabethtown Gas Infrastructure Investment Program (IIP) is a five-year program that will replace 250 miles of vintage cast iron, bare steel, ductile iron, copper, and vintage plastic mains and services.

In recent years, Elizabethtown Gas and South Jersey Gas have collectively installed approximately 300,000 excess flow valves (EFVs) as part of our infrastructure enhancement programs. In the event of damage to a gas line, EFVs can stop leaks by automatically shutting off service. For example, these valves played a vital role in automatically shutting off gas service to damaged homes during the tornado that hit Gloucester County, NJ, in early September 2021.

A group of people in a factoryStarting next month, South Jersey Gas will start a five-year Infrastructure Investment Program (IIP) which will begin the replacement of approximately 250 miles of at-risk facilities, including vintage coated steel and Aldyl-A plastic mains and related services, as well as the installation of excess flow valves on new service lines.

Additionally, in July of 2021, South Jersey Gas cut the ribbon on the New Sentury Pump Station in South Harrison Twp, NJ. This infrastructure project helps prevent gas supply interruptions caused by irregularities to the system, such as extreme weather, peak-demand events, man-made disruptions or other issues that may affect interstate pipelines.

Throughout our long history, our utilities have been steadfastly committed to ensuring the safety, security and reliability of our energy delivery systems. We’re proud to champion safety as a core value at SJI each and every day.


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