Safe + Sound Week, Aug. 10-16, was created as a nationwide event to recognize the successes of businesses that have adopted programs to improve workplace safety and health. Implementing a safety and health program can improve businesses’ safety and health performance, save money, and improve competitiveness.
Each August, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the National Safety Council, Intelex and other participants and sponsors invite you to share your safety successes as part of Safe + Sound Week. We know that successful safety and health programs can proactively identify and manage workplace hazards before they cause injury or illness, while improving business sustainability.
I’ve been writing about safe companies for 25 years. Here’s what they all have in common: They are organizations that have created world-class cultures that make EHS a corporate value. Notice I didn’t say “safety culture?” They have world-class organizational cultures and EHS is integrated into the culture, much like production, supply chain or any other aspect of the business.
Leadership and management at these organizations value and track EHS efforts. Employees are engaged in the EHS process and understand the importance of EHS to the organization’s bottom line. These organizations offer innovative solutions to safety challenges, showing that it doesn’t take a lot of money to impact injury and illness rates. Speaking of which, world-class companies have lower injury and illness rates than the average for their industries, mostly because they perceive injuries as waste, and know that employees are a sustainable asset that must be protected from harm. They offer comprehensive training programs, an consider training compliance as one of their leading indicators. The value of EHS is communicated by these companies, not only to employees, but to shareholders and the public, because it reinforces the value of the company as an investment and as an employer of choice. Finally, these organizations measure, track and trend safety outcomes and are willing to pivot when necessary to improve EHS.
You can find more information about Safe + Sound Week here.
Safe + Sound Week Is Year-Round
Safe workplaces are sound businesses, which is why Safe + Sound Week, despite the name, is a year-round effort. Now, more than ever, it’s important for businesses to focus on protecting employees and building a strong foundation of EHS that can support business growth and agility.
Every workplace should have a safety and health program that includes management leadership, worker participation, and a systematic approach to finding and fixing hazards.
Here are examples of companies that are EHS leaders in their industries:
Moss is a leader in the construction business in America, building residential, educational, correctional, public assembly and military projects, with a specialization in solar construction. With offices that extend from Florida to Hawaii, the family-owned company has been recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as an elite construction company within the agency’s Safety Recognition Program.
Moss specializes in creating work environments that are safe, secure and supportive. At Moss, they recognize safety as a value and expect the same from every partner, vendor and subcontractor with whom they work.
“If people aren’t safe on sites and we are not mindful of the environment, our entire business is at risk. By choosing to partner with strategic subcontractors, we have grown our business since 2004 from $5 million to $3.5 billion,” says CEO Bob L. Moss. “Safety is a foundation for sustainable growth. Without the efforts of the entire team and our excellent safety record, we could not have grown this quickly. It’s all about keeping people who work on our sites safe and ensuring people who live in the area are also safe. Safety means work gets done — on time and on budget.”
Suez North America
The 2,900 employees of SUEZ North America are responsible for treating 560 million gallons of water and over 440 million gallons of wastewater each day. They operate water utilities and provide water and wastewater services to municipalities in the United States and Canada.
The company also provides long-term rehabilitation and maintenance services to over 4,000 municipal and industrial customers including elevated and grounded water storage tanks. As a result, employees spend more than 1 million work hours a year working at elevations of 100 feet or higher, and so the New Jersey based company must take a serious proactive approach to employee safety.
SUEZ North America contracts with numerous clients to operate their water and wastewater plants. This requires managing facilities of different ages and stages in building and equipment maintenance, supervising and engaging employees who have not received comparable training, and aligning often varied safety missions and cultures. Accurate incident reporting and data management is key to improving health and safety for workers and satisfying maintenance and operations demands at the many facilities SUEZ manages.
A vision, mission, and goals development workshop with the company’s EHS and Operations teams identified three goals for its safety excellence strategy, which then were refined and reviewed with executive management and integrated with the vision and goals for the entire organization. Those three goals for the company’s safety excellence strategy are:
- Be a leader in the use of technology for safety
- Increase focus on Human Performance and Just Culture
- Take a risk-based approach for prevention of severe potential injuries.
The dedication to worker safety and health and the ongoing emphasis on improving the safety culture at SUEZ North America is not lost on employees. Khan is proud of the results of a recent employee engagement survey: “Eighty-two percent of our employees agree that the company is committed to safety and their welfare and is investing in keeping them safe. Three years ago, it was 57 percent,” said Kanwer Khan, Vice President, Environmental Compliance, Health, Security and Safety for SUEZ North America.