A shift is occurring in today's workplaces, embodied by a growing list of business leaders the National Safety Council calls “CEOs Who ‘Get It.’” Today, a growing number of corporations are embracing safety as a critical part of their businesses' success and sustainability.

 

This year’s nine "CEOs Who 'Get It'" represent a wide range of industries, from chemical manufacturing to transportation to food and beverage service. As diverse as each organization is, each of the leaders featured this month has made safety a priority...

 

Key quotes from CEO interviews, answering the question, "How do you instill a sense of safety in your employees on an ongoing basis?"

 

Michael L. Eskew, chairman of the board and CEO, UPS

(Winner of the 2007 Green Cross for Safety Medal)
"... It's on our company's Balanced Scorecard – the one I get rated on. It's on every operations manager's scorecard and it figures in how we compensate our managers. ... We spend 1.3 million hours a year on safety training. Every day, every driver and package handler gets a three-minute meeting with his or her supervisor, and a safety tip is given at the end of every meeting."

 

Olivier Brousse, CEO and chairman, Veolia Transportation, North America

"At Veolia, it is our duty to not only list safety as a core value, but to prove it by investing in our people with ongoing training and in the latest state-of-the-art equipment and practices. When our employees see that commitment at the very top, they understand the importance of putting safety first every day."

 

Kennett F. Burnes, chairman, president and CEO, Cabot Corp.

"... Several years ago, I began to personally review every recordable and reportable incident that occurred at Cabot. Those reviews are insightful opportunities for the management team to understand what the root cause of the incident was and what we can do to prevent the same accident from reoccurring elsewhere within our system of plants and facilities."

 

John Compton, president and CEO, Pepsico North America

"... If you take our sustainability vision – which says simply to make 'tomorrow better than today' – you can see how an emphasis on prevention versus reaction fits with our approach to safety. To make this happen with safety, we invest in hazard identification and control, training, performance objectives, audits, and people time. As employees see genuine commitment from business and from their management, they become leaders and infuse ownership into their own teams."

 

Harry G. Dorman III, president and CEO, Alice Peck Day Health System Corp.

"... Expectations for safe practices are established through our Standards of Behavior policies, and the annual evaluation of each staff member’s performance includes indicators for safety. Communication of matters related to safety is accomplished in a quarterly newsletter. Employees participate in decision-making for purchases, such as patient-lifting equipment, that affect their safety and that of patients."

 

Francis Petro, president and CEO, Haynes International Inc.

"... Injuries are reported to the president’s office from everywhere in the world, and then followed up by a thorough analysis of what happened. Safety performance also is a part of everyone’s effectiveness appraisal. In our new-employee orientation program, I, as the president and chief executive, spend an hour with new employees talking about nothing but safety and sharing with them my experiences and views on safety."

 

Wayne E. Simmonds, chairman of the board, FBG Services Corp.

" ... FBG managers address safety issues when designing all new cleaning programs. The safety assessment phase includes looking for possible hazards such as potential slip-and-fall risks, ensuring that the chemicals used are Green Seal certified, and that ergonomics issues are considered when ordering cleaning equipment."

 

Nicholas P. Trainer, past president, Sartomer Company Inc.

" ... The Operating Philosophy, created in 1987 as the roadmap for success, contains four quadrants. The first quadrant is people and providing a safe environment as the top priority. The Responsible Care initiative, adopted by Sartomer in 1992, has matured into a management system including a formal safety management system. Both systems employ third-party auditing and risk-based goals."

 

Tom Van Horn, president and CEO, UtilX Corp.

" ... Safety is the first issue discussed at all operations meetings and in company meetings. Safety training is thorough and frequent. Our employees also know our customers require safe operations from their service providers."

 

Members of the National Safety Council can download the complete 11-page article, which includes photos and full Q&As from interviews with the nine selected CEOs (login required). Non-members may purchase the article.