Risk Management Magazine Workplace Safety ROUNDTABLE

Article excerpt

PARTICIPANTS

Erin O'Reilly

Director of Contracts, Risk Manager

Plaza Construction Corporation

New York

Terry D. Gray

President

Zurich - Construction

Minneapolis

Mary Ellen Sacchetti

Vice President, Corporate: Safety Director

Plaza Construction Corporation

Lewis C. Booker, CSP

Director Safety, Health and Environment

Home and Personal Care NA Unilever

Trumbull, CT

Caria Eberling, AR M

Director of Risk Management

Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation

New York

James E. Durchak

Director Risk Management

Philips Electronics North America

New York

Peter W. Linn

Regional Manager (Northeast)

Zurich Services Corporation - Risk Engineering

If you could boil down the essence of a successful workplace safety program to a single principle, what would that principle be and why?

Eberling: The key is communication to the employees, obviously, but also communication to the management so they buy into what you want to do. We notify all of our divisions quarterly to inform them how everything is trending. And we give our operations people some of our expertise. You just have to keep at it. You can't just assume that everybody knows about what you are doing. You must keep reinforcing it and reinforcing it.

Sacchetti: For us, the cardinal virtue of workplace safety is visibility. If safety is not a visible, hands-on, personal thing, then it has no impact for the organization. It is critical to go to the worksite, to talk to project managers, bring them to meetings, and make them aware of safety, especially from the insurance side. A lot of them are not aware of the insurance involved, of the dollar loss per claim. If I can bring employees in and discuss these things with them, it really is the way to go.

Booker: For Unilever, a guiding principle is a clear defined vision of where we want to be in the area of safety, health and environmental care. In our firm, the journey started off many years ago focused on regulatory compliance and now it has evolved into a journey of overall safety, health and environmental excellence. It is about understanding and supporting a clearly communicated vision that is integrated throughout the business, driven by senior leaderships support and engagement. It is driven by what I like to call "felt leadership" where not only do we communicate the message, but our leaders walk the talk so our employees can see that there really is accountability built into this thing we call SHE excellence.

When we talk about regulations and OSHA regulations in particular, are these a good thing to strive for or are they simply a good place to start?

Linn: The standards of OSHA or any other regulatory agency are just a baseline to start with. Most corporations are implementing their own set of standard operating procedures that far exceed any OSHA or local regulation. And they are applying those internal standards on a global basis. So wherever they do work, or are located, the same standard is applied consistently.

Booker: The regulatory foundation is solid and most forward-thinking organizations have established management systems that not only incorporate the regulatory baseline, but far exceed it.

Adding more regulations or changing current ones will only complicate matters. It could lead to pushback rather than to companies striving to be the best in class. Now, if there is a best practice that a regulatory agency has identified as something that could help an organization improve, that's fine. But I don't think changing regulation for the sake of change is a good thing.

Sacchetti: I think regulatory agencies such as OSHA are moving in the right direction, working with partnerships and bringing everybody together. We all want everybody to go home at the end of the day. …