2011 CEOs Who 'Get It'

Harold L. Yoh III

Chairman & CEO
Day & Zimmermann

Day & Zimmermann, headquartered in Philadelphia, provides industrial, defense and workforce solutions to the commercial and government sectors. It has 26,000 employees.

Why is safety a core value at your company?

We care about safety because we care about our employees. Period. As our company’s No. 1 value, safety is critical to ensuring the well-being of our employees and communities, the trust and satisfaction of our customers, and the success of our projects and Day & Zimmermann as a whole.

Day & Zimmermann performs high-risk work in hazardous environments for some of the largest companies and government groups, from engineering, construction and plant maintenance to paramilitary security, munitions manufacturing and workforce solutions. We are selected to perform this work because we know how to do it safely and our customers have confidence in our proven safety record. We take these responsibilities seriously and are relentless in our commitment to preventing injuries and accidents, as demonstrated in our comprehensive safety organization, training, tools and programs.

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

Safety leadership starts at the top at Day & Zimmermann, with me and the balance of our management team taking on active roles in supporting and communicating the safety message, and holding all of our employees accountable for their individual safety performances. Safety is built into both our business and individual employee review processes, as well as our strategic planning process.

On a day-to-day basis, one of the most effective safety awareness tactics we use is the companywide requirement to open all meetings with a safety topic. These topics can range from innovations in safety processes at one of the power plants we maintain, to advice on how to safely put out cooking oil fires on the stove top. This effort keeps safety at the top of the agenda and continuously demonstrates that safety always comes first.

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

Day & Zimmermann's biggest safety obstacle is that much of the work performed by our employees is conducted at customer facilities and sometimes under customer supervision. In most cases, we are not in complete control of the work environment, the other workers or the materials.

We have transformed this obstacle into an opportunity by focusing on active safety partnerships with all of our customers that allow us to collaborate and share best practices that ensure the safety of our employees, our customers' employees, and the communities in which they operate. In the end, we only work with customers that share this safety mindset.

How does safety "pay" at your company?

At Day & Zimmermann, safety pays when an employee understands that being safe is not just a way to work, it's about a way of life. When employees embrace safety this way, we not only know we will send them home safely every day – we also know they will come back to us the next day.
Safety also pays when employees share a safety story about an injury that was prevented as a result of actions they took or recommended because of something they heard in one of our safety training events, in a meeting opener safety topic, or one of our safety newsletters. I have personally heard many of these accounts, and there is simply no richer return on investment than stories like that.
How do you measure safety? What are the leading indicators that show you how safe you are, and where do you see room for improvement?

Day & Zimmermann religiously measures and reports our safety results as we work toward our goal of zero injuries and safety incidents. One of our most important measurements is tracking off-the-job injuries, which helps determine how well we are building a robust safety culture that is 24/7, not just on the job. We believe the true challenge is to go beyond the standard regulatory requirements and track the leading indicators that determine the ultimate success of our safety program.

While we look at metrics such as the number of safety training hours and safety orientations, some of our most valuable information comes from our employee and customer surveys. Our employees are questioned extensively about safety in our periodic survey, providing unique insight into the effectiveness of our programs. Year after year, survey results show an overwhelming majority of our employees think Day & Zimmermann is committed to employee safety. We similarly survey our customers on why they choose Day & Zimmermann and safety is repeatedly cited as a key differentiator, with our unrelenting commitment, best-in-class practices and proven results specifically mentioned.

How important is off-the-job safety to your company's overall safety program? What types of off-the-job safety programs does your company offer to employees?

To achieve world-class safety performance in the workplace, you need to have employees who not only want to work safely, but also want to take safety home with them. Workers are 10 times more likely to die off the job than on the job. Therefore, in a strong safety culture, employees must understand you care about them all the time.

Our safety strategy is designed to not only impact safety at work, but also at home and on the road. We provide programs and information aligned with each of these areas and measure and track off-the-job safety performance.

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