No aspect of our work is more important than safety and health, whether it is an AEP employee or an AEP contractor. Our focus is on prevention, but, sadly, we were unable to prevent the losses of two contractors in 2016 and one in 2017.
As we strive for Zero Harm with our employee workforce, we seek the same level of commitment and performance among our contractors. We invest time and resources to ensure the safety and health of our contractor workforce and we hold them accountable for their performance. This has become critically important as our contractor workforce continues to grow as we grow our business. To support this, in early 2016, we created a new leadership position responsible for contractor safety and health performance.
Overall, AEP’s contractor performance remains unfavorable to the target with a DART rate of 0.59 for 2016 compared to our improvement goal of 0.52. In addition, we experienced two contractor fatalities due to electrical contact events in 2016. In response, AEP worked collaboratively with our contracting partners to identify the root cause of the events and build mitigation strategies to prevent future recurrences. However, we still have a lot of work to do to reach our goal of Zero Harm among those who work on our behalf.
To help our contractors achieve Zero Harm success, we have a rigorous contractor pre-qualification process; set clear expectations for compliance and commitment; incorporate leading indicators into the contractor oversight process; and proactively address trends. In addition, we meet regularly with our contractors to help ensure those working on our behalf are aligned with our value of Zero Harm. We will continue to look for ways to remain actively engaged through our AEP employee and contractor oversight.