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What is “Committed to Zero”?
- The manager whose leadership on core values is felt by those he or she engages
- The global team that starts each meeting by discussing DuPont’s core values and making a commitment to safety and health
- The building planner who considers the impact of the project on the environment and the safety and health of workers who will occupy it – as well as those who will build it
Committed to Zero means a personal commitment to the highest standards of environmental, health and safety excellence. It is the EHS motto actively practiced by employees of DuPont – the Wilmington, DE-based global research and technology-based science company and 2013 recipient of the National Safety Council Robert W. Campbell Award. The Campbell Award is presented annually to an organization that demonstrates how its world-class performance in EHS management is linked to its success as a business.
DuPont’s recordable injury rate improved 13 percent in 2012 from 2011, and the company’s first-quarter 2013 rate is 38 percent improved compared to the 2012 first-quarter rate. The company’s recent EHS success is matched by its financial growth: DuPont’s overall revenue grew 3 percent in 2012 compared to the previous year – which also is the average level of growth during the previous five years – and 2012 was a record year for many of the company’s individual businesses and product lines.
“DuPont is honored to be named the 2013 recipient of the Robert W. Campbell Award,” said Ellen Kullman, DuPont chair and CEO. “Our active commitment to safety excellence has been embedded into DuPont for over two centuries. This commitment has helped us grow into the organization we are today, and we will continue to seek improvements in safety, health and the environment as we work to live up to the high standards represented by the Campbell Award.”
Connecting EHS management with success
EHS management has been part of DuPont’s operations since its inception more than 200 years ago as an explosives manufacturer, said Gary Rosenblum, senior director of the Campbell Institute at the National Safety Council.
C. Bland Dickey, director of global safety, health and environment for DuPont, said the company considers EHS a competitive advantage. DuPont’s total recordable case rate between 2003 and 2010 was 83 percent lower than the average U.S. manufacturing organization and 21 percent lower compared to an average member of the American Chemistry Council. Simultaneously, DuPont is a top global market competitor in many sectors, with overall revenues exceeding $38 billion and operations in more than 90 countries.
Another link between DuPont’s EHS program and its bottom line is its process safety management system. In recent years, the system has increasingly focused on fatigue management, process hazard analysis and near-miss leading indicators, in addition to other management-of-change practices. As a result, in 2012 DuPont achieved a best-ever 0.08 severity rating based on the American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ Center for Chemical Process Safety metrics for U.S. sites.
DuPont leaders begin every executive meeting discussing the company’s EHS and ethics values, establishing EHS management as a top priority and opening the floor for others to discuss safety and core values, Dickey said. EHS leadership sets strategies, records metrics and provides guidance, but the employees are the most critical part of the company’s EHS success.
“[DuPont] has learned over 200 years that [employee] focus, enthusiasm and attention to details are the key,” Dickey said. “Safety is all about being on a team and working together, bringing up examples of best practices so everyone can learn from them.”
An example of leveraging employee knowledge to improve safety is DuPont’s James River facility in Richmond, VA, which won DuPont’s first E.I. DuPont Safety Award medal for safety excellence in 2011. The 32-person sulfuric acid plant has achieved more than 18 years without a recordable injury and 30 years without an injury that led to a lost workday, Dickey said. The plant’s leaders told the Campbell Award review panel that its workers make a daily choice to commit to their safety and the safety of the entire plant.
Such discussions led DuPont to formally adopt “Committed to Zero” as its new EHS programming slogan, to replace “Goal of Zero.” A goal is something you strive toward, but a commitment is more personal and actionable for the individual worker and team, Dickey said.
DuPont’s use of employees as resources to improve EHS management is a great example for organizations everywhere, Rosenblum said, especially small and mid-sized businesses that struggle with having enough funding or resources for their safety programs. “Great companies … can make every employee into a safety expert, safety managers of their own jobs,” he said.
DuPont employees also tend to stay – even through the generations. John Dony, program manager for the Campbell Institute, suggested that DuPont’s focus on workers’ well-being contributes to the company’s high retention rate. Both Dony and Rosenblum commented that, during the Campbell Award process, they met workers at DuPont sites who had great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents who were employed by DuPont. Rosenblum even encountered someone who was a sixth-generation DuPont employee.
In addition to receiving the Campbell Award, DuPont joins 27 other organizations – including 11 past Campbell Award winners – as part of the Campbell Institute. The institute provides case studies and information on best practices for integrating EHS management in organizations’ business functions while strengthening both.
Dickey said that he looks forward to sharing DuPont’s perspectives on safety culture with other employers. He also hopes small and mid-sized organizations follow DuPont’s example of leveraging and obtaining its workers’ knowledge of work functions to improve their EHS program. This has become increasingly important as many employers, including DuPont, are facing the retirement of large numbers of workers. That potential loss of knowledge – if not captured beforehand – is one of DuPont’s largest upcoming EHS challenges, Dickey said.
Another challenge the company faces is a recently announced shift in business focus from chemical manufacturing to becoming a global market-driven science company focused on the food, energy and protection needs of a growing global population. Although this shift may mean changes for some of the company’s operations, DuPont’s core values – established more than 200 years ago – will not be impacted, Dickey said.
“[DuPont’s] EHS commitment has never wavered,” Dickey said. “We set the standard for occupational EHS compliance and footprint reduction. We now integrate this legacy into a new business model that focuses on sustainable growth.”