Safety Is a Way of Life at America's Safest Companies: Seventeen Diverse Companies That Share a Dedication to Safe Work and Healthy Workers Are Honored as the 2004 America's Safest Companies

By Smith, Sandy | Occupational Hazards, October 2004 | Go to article overview

Safety Is a Way of Life at America's Safest Companies: Seventeen Diverse Companies That Share a Dedication to Safe Work and Healthy Workers Are Honored as the 2004 America's Safest Companies


Smith, Sandy, Occupational Hazards


Safety is flying high at Bell Helicopter, fully entrenched at Washington Group, packing a punch at PACKERLAND-Plainwell, setting everyone abuzz at Anheuser-Busch and shining like lip gloss at L'Oreal USA.

The 2004 America's Safest Companies were chosen based on recommendations by industry professionals, recognition by industry associations, participation in programs such as OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program, state and local awards, and OCCUPATIONAL HAZARDS' own research. This year's winners have clearly made safety a business value. They have invested time and energy to surpass minimum government standards and created an environment where employees come first--which is key to being one of today's industry leaders.

Said Jean-Paul Agon, president and CEO of L'Oreal USA, "Safety makes good business sense, but more importantly, it's the right thing to do--for our employees, for our business and for our communities." L'Oreal USA has made a commitment to occupational safety and health by vowing to have all of its U.S.-based facilities participate in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program in less than 5 years.

Many of America's Safest Companies (ASC) operate facilities worldwide. To be considered for the honor of ASC, these companies must operate their international facilities with the same level of commitment to safety that they show at their facilities in the United States. At Monsanto Co., for example, all facilities are expected to meet a set of fundamental requirements for core safety, health and occupational medicine programs and process, regardless of their location or lack of local or national safety and health regulations. "At Monsanto, it's about safety as a core value, not just a priority, but who we are. We've created a culture where safety--where life--is valued, and that's how we approach our employees about it," said Emer Obroin, vice president, Environmental Safety and Health.

The companies picked to join our list of America's safest share several fundamental values:

* Safety is a corporate value;

* Safety is incorporated into the production process;

* Employees must be engaged in the safety process;

* Management participation in the safety process is key;

* Zero injuries is an achievable goal; and,

* Despite business swings, safety must remain constant.

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Safety is Part of the Process

For the 1,200 employees at PACKERLAND-Plainwell Inc., safety is a condition of employment and is integrated into the production and business models to the point where "it is a part of all decisions made in upgrading and improving the facility. Whether it's increasing production goals, or making facility or process modifications," said Leigh Floyd, occupational safety manager, "engineering and safety requirements must be satisfied before a project is approved.

"Safety," he added, "must be integrated as a core business and personal value, recognizing not only that good safety is good business, but also that it's important for each member of the business to have a personal value for their own safety and the safety of the people they work with."

Kaye Love-Dodgen, safety manager at Denark Construction Inc., noted that planning, communication, implementation and superior execution are the four key components of that company's safety program. "The planning process begins at the preconstruction phase of every job. Specific safety hazards are identified and addressed to enable everyone to recognize what specific safety precautions will be utilized to address the hazards and to put necessary precautions in the up-front costs of the project," she said.

Such attention to detail has paid off for Denark: the company has a lost-time injury rate that is approximately 1/7th of the industry average for construction.

No Employee Left Behind

The 2004 America's Safest Companies agree that every employee must be engaged in the safety process if a culture change is to be made and maintained. …

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