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Safety culture | Performance measurement | Leadership
SAFETY LEADERSHIP

2014 CEOs Who 'Get It'

The National Safety Council recognizes 10 leaders who demonstrate a personal commitment to worker safety and health

February 1, 2014

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Craig L. Martin

President and CEO
Jacobs

Accomplishments

  • Led the company to the best safety performance in its 65-year history in 2012
  • Schedules weekly conference calls with senior management
  • Was one of the first contractors to establish a total ban on cell phone use while driving, including both handheld and hands-free devices. Provides mandatory defensive driver training for all business-related driving activities and offers the training to employees’ families

Why is safety a core value at your organization?

Being safe is elemental to everything we do and everything that matters to us. The three core values that shape our conduct around the world balance:

  1. Our relationships with clients
  2. Profitable growth
  3. The people who make us successful

All three values depend on our ability to run a safe and ethical business. Our BeyondZero® program recognizes this; it goes beyond rules, policies and procedures to promote a genuine Culture of Caring throughout Jacobs. We encourage all Jacobs employees to work safely, take an active role in the safety of those around them, and have the courage to intervene whenever they deem something unsafe. BeyondZero is 24/7 for us: at Jacobs, at client sites, at home, and in our communities. We believe we can profoundly influence the safety of our employees, their friends and families, our communities, and our industry.

Describe your journey to becoming a CEO who understands the importance of worker safety.

Safety is important to running a successful business. However, the safety record of our industry was troubling. Moreover, in spite of top quartile performance and a steadily improving safety record at Jacobs, our rapid growth was actually resulting in more injuries, not fewer. So we committed to safety in a new way around 2007. Truly extraordinary safety requires more than an intellectual commitment. It requires an emotional commitment. That is BeyondZero! We give each other permission to care, to look out for one another, and we are each accountable.

What is the biggest obstacle to safety at your organization, and how do you work to overcome it?

Getting people to connect emotionally in addition to intellectually is a major challenge. Bad outcomes are rare in our company, so experience is not the best teacher. We try to leverage learnings in ways that connect hearts and minds together. Our recent video “Kate’s Story” is an example of how we try to make this important connection. This is a significant challenge when onboarding groups of new employees as well, especially in cases in which we acquire companies.

Often, other companies’ approaches are different than ours, so we must work diligently to educate new employees and get them aligned with BeyondZero and all it entails as quickly as possible. We’ve seen that this works best when our leadership is visible and genuinely involved in the effort. A great benefit that can come out of the process of indoctrinating new employees is that it gives us the opportunity to re-evaluate and re-commit ourselves. This helps reduce complacency, which is another common obstacle to safety.

How do you instill a sense of safety in employees on an ongoing basis?

Most companies use everyday tactics such as safety moments at the start each meeting, safety observation reports, safe plans of action and the like – we are no different. But more than tactics, we give each other permission to care – establishing an environment in which people are empowered and encouraged to speak up to help prevent incidents and injuries – not just in the office and on the jobsite, but everywhere they go.

Our leadership strives to instill the value of safety on a personal level, both intellectually and emotionally. We work constantly to reinforce a culture in which employees feel a true sense of caring for one another’s safety and well-being, and are comfortable enough to intervene whenever necessary. We don’t do this nearly as well as we would like, but we are making progress.

How does your organization measure safety? What are the leading indicators that show you how safe your organization is, and where do you see room for improvement?

We use lagging indicators to measure performance, as well as leading indicators that drive improved performance. Some of the leading indicators we use include looking at the worst potential severity of incidents, the amount and quality of safety training, use of Safety Observation Reports and Safe Plans of Action, and – perhaps most importantly – assessment of leadership behaviors and culture at each location and across the company. We strive for continuous improvement of our safety performance, regularly assessing our best-in-class sites and engaging in integrated planning to apply what we learn across our organization and beyond. As a company, we are committed to reaching everyone we encounter with our BeyondZero message, because we genuinely care about the safety and well-being of our employees, clients, and all the people they’re connected to around the world.

Pasadena, CA-based Jacobs is one of the world’s largest and most diverse providers of technical professional services, including all aspects of engineering, architecture, construction, operations and maintenance, as well as scientific and specialty consulting. Jacobs serves a broad range of industrial, commercial and government clients across multiple markets and geographies. Jacobs’ global network includes operations in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, India, Australia, Africa, and Asia. The company employs 65,000 workers.