Leading by example
Robert W. Campbell Award recipient Cummins Inc. puts safety at forefront
To a typical organization, earning a coveted national award for environmental, health and safety management might represent a successful dash across the finish line.
Cummins Inc. is not a typical organization. The Columbus, IN-based global power leader feels as if it is just hitting its stride.
Cummins is the 2014 recipient of the National Safety Council Robert W. Campbell Award, which is presented annually to an organization that successfully integrates EHS management with business operations. The company employs more than 48,000 people in 190-plus countries to design, manufacture, distribute, and service engines and related technologies.
Cummins Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger accepted the award on behalf of his employees during the 2014 NSC Congress & Expo in San Diego.
“Our work in safety is about caring for our people who work every day to help our company succeed,” Linebarger said in a press release. “The Campbell Award is terrific recognition for the Cummins employees who have made tremendous progress in the area of safety at our company.
“However, we know that when it comes to safety, our work is never done. There is much more to do and we will continue to be guided by our company’s mission to demand that everything we do leads to a cleaner, healthier and safer environment.”
Cummins stood out as a safety leader because of its commitment to continuous improvement on the Journey to Safety Excellence, NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman said.
“Embracing continuous improvement is hard because it means you have to constantly be checking yourself and asking, ‘Is what we’re doing good enough?’” Hersman said. “It’s recognizing that you have to constantly evolve.
“For Cummins, we saw multiple years of progress and multiple years of commitment to raising the bar on safety, and doing it in a way that was engaging and foundational with its employees as well as expecting its leadership to be involved on that journey, too.”
In its pursuit, Cummins offers lessons that could benefit safety professionals and workers alike at organizations of all shapes and sizes.
Michelle Garner-Janna is Cummins’ director of corporate health and safety. She said the company’s safety philosophy is strong and clear.
“Health and safety is our responsibility,” Garner-Janna said. “And by ‘our responsibility,’ we mean every employee. It’s not just the safety leader’s responsibility. It’s not just the company’s responsibility. It truly is up to every single employee to have a safe work environment, a safe home environment and a safe community.”
The company has backed up its words with actions.
Cummins set a record low with its incidence rate of 0.65 recordable injuries and illnesses per 100 employees in 2013, according to its 2013-14 sustainability report. The company also improved its severity rate (lost workdays per recordable incident) by 8 percent from the year before, and recorded a 16 percent improvement in its major injuries and dangerous occurrences rate (0.047).
Ultimately, Cummins’ goal is to achieve zero major injuries and dangerous occurrences by 2016. Aggressive goals are commonplace at Cummins, which aims to be a safety leader across all industries.
“The goals are extremely aggressive,” Garner-Janna said. “But that’s because safety is so important to us. We really do want to achieve zero, and we want to achieve zero as quickly as we possibly can. We’ve found that by setting these aggressive targets, we’ve actually motivated ourselves to accomplish more than we thought that we would.”
‘Live It, Lead It’
Part of Cummins’ success in establishing a safety culture has stemmed from its “Live It, Lead It” educational summit program. Leaders from across the company gather for a day-long training session that features safety-related videos, speeches and activities.
During the summit, Cummins Senior Corporate Communications Specialist Kimberly Trubiro participated in team-based games and other activities with leaders from other departments.
“It was so incredibly interesting, and everyone leaving was so happy to have gone through it,” Trubiro said. “It’s such a valuable experience that those 10 hours flew by.
“Knowing you’re leaving the room with a group of leaders that are on board, I think that attitude is incredibly valuable. It gets everyone on board and keeps safety at the forefront of everything we’re doing.”
Cummins also has developed a new version of the “Live It, Lead It” training module, which will be offered to all employees.
“I think it lights that fire,” Garner-Janna said. “Some people already had that fire going, and maybe this takes them to the ‘inferno’ level. For others, it lights a fire that they didn’t know was there. It’s really been a game-changer for us.”
Authenticity is important for any company’s program, Garner-Janna said. As part of “Live It, Lead It,” Cummins employees heard speeches from colleagues about how incidents had affected their lives.
“It really tugs at the heartstrings,” Garner-Janna said. “You can get a canned program. You can get a video from anywhere that has someone talking about a tragic incident that occurred. But it really makes it that much more personal when it’s a Cummins employee.
“Whether you work directly with that person or not, knowing that person is part of the Cummins family and hearing from them personally makes a difference.”
Smaller organizations may compile less data than Cummins, but they can analyze their data in a similar fashion to improve safety results.
Garner-Janna said data can highlight safety trends or hot spots.
“I think a key takeaway whether you’re at a plant level, whether you’re at a large organization, small organization – regardless of industry – is that understanding what your data is telling you is huge,” Garner-Janna said. “You have to look at where your data is pointing.”
Hersman praised Cummins’ forward-looking approach.
“The very best companies are always trying to identify: ‘What does it mean to be a pace setter?’” Hersman said. “What does it mean to be on the front edge of the leading indicators?”
For example, Garner-Janna said, Cummins might perform a risk assessment and determine that slips, trips and falls were rising on the list of primary drivers. In response, the company could develop a toolkit that went beyond its traditional policy and procedures.
If data indicates a plateau in the rate reduction of slips, trips and falls, Cummins would take action to kick-start another round of improvement.
“That’s when we’ll go back and we’ll re-analyze the data and try to figure out what’s missing,” Garner-Janna said. “What gaps do we have in our toolkit or initiative? So we’ll recharge it.”
Since earning the Campbell Award, Cummins has heard from a number of organizations hoping to improve their safety performance.
Cummins is happy to help.
“This award means you have a responsibility – not just within your own company – to help others reach the level that you’re at and to help others strive for better safety performance,” Garner-Janna said. “We’re completely committed to helping others on their journey.”
For every organization, big or small, the journey is never-ending.
“Every year, the competition gets tougher for the Campbell Award,” Hersman said. “I’d love to put the call out to see some of our smaller and medium-size companies pick up the gauntlet. You don’t have to demonstrate the sheer volume that we’re seeing with some of these other companies, but you do have to demonstrate the commitment.”