Congress highlights

Highlights from the 2014 NSC Congress & Expo

October 26, 2014

NSC launches ‘Journey to Safety Excellence’ initiative

Seize the day.

That was the message from National Safety Council President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman, who welcomed thousands of safety professionals to the 2014 NSC Congress & Expo in San Diego. During the Opening Session on Sept. 15, Hersman urged everyone in the audience to strive to improve occupational safety and reduce worker deaths, which totaled more than 4,000 in the United States in 2013.

As part of that mission, NSC announced the Journey to Safety Excellence, a workplace initiative to help organizations of all sizes to make their employees safer. The Journey is based on a strategy of continuous improvement that calls for committed leadership and engaged employees, sound safety management systems, removing risk in the workplace, and continuous measurement and improvement of performance.

In partnership with national founding sponsor Grainger, NSC aims to help equip organizations with free, practical tools to improve safety. Organizations may join the Journey for free at nsc.org/journey.

“We should be outraged that 4,000 of our co-workers are dying every year to causes that are 100 percent preventable,” Hersman said. “And if we don’t change what we’re doing, next year, 4,000 more will die.”

Hersman cited safety advancements in the airline industry during the 1990s as an example of how competing organizations with wide-ranging goals can come together in the name of saving lives. The collaborative effort led to an 83 percent reduction in fatal air crashes in a decade, Hersman said.

“Seize the day,” Hersman said. “Because every minute counts, every life counts, and every single one of you counts. You can improve the human condition.”

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NSC awards celebration recognizes safety excellence

During the National Awards Celebration on Sept. 16, the National Safety Council honored several council members for their leadership and dedication to making workplaces, roadways and communities safer.

“You all have such important jobs and are able to impact so many people,” Jeff Woodbury, chairman of the NSC board of directors, said during the ceremony. “It is because of your hard work and continued engagement that we are making our world safer.”

Among the awards presented:

  • The 2014 Joseph M. Kaplan Safe Driver of the Year Awards were presented to 10 professional drivers who have driven for a combined 337 years and millions of miles without a preventable collision.
  • Occupational Awards were presented to member organizations that have displayed dedication to employee safety through effective policies and procedures.
  • Seven companies were honored for exemplifying a Corporate Culture of Safety by receiving more than 50 National Safety Council awards.

In addition, the 2014 Class of the NSC Rising Stars of Safety (pictured above) was recognized.

NSC honors six with Distinguished Service to Safety Award

The National Safety Council honored six individuals with its highest award for safety professionals during the Opening Session of the 2014 NSC Congress & Expo on Sept. 15.

The Distinguished Service to Safety Award is presented annually to those who have devoted their careers to improving safety and health at work, on the roads, and in homes and communities. The award was first presented in 1942 to recognize individuals and companies that strived to reduce occupational injuries during World War II.

“These 2014 award recipients are living examples of the Journey to Safety Excellence – continually working to improve safety within their respective industries,” Deborah A.P. Hersman, NSC president and CEO, said during the session. “Their career achievements have resulted in lives saved and injuries prevented, and their passion for safety has inspired the next generation of safety leaders.”

NSC Divisions each nominate someone for the award. This year’s recipients are:

Business and Industry Division
Gary D. Kopps
Associate Director, Global Work and Life Safety
John Deere & Co.

Construction Division
David P. Kliwinski
HSE Director
Jacobs Engineering Group

Labor Division
Ronald E. Kline
Safety Representative, United Auto Workers, Local 171
Mack Truck Corp./Volvo Group

NSC Board of Directors
James A. Solomon
Director, Defensive Driving Courses Program Development and Training
National Safety Council

Transportation Division
Thomas C. DiSalvi
Vice President of Safety and Loss Prevention
Schneider National Inc.

Utilities Division
Jody Rood
American ERT

The Campbell Institute presents the Executive Edge tracks

The Executive Edge track is presented annually by the Campbell Institute, the global environmental, health and safety center of excellence at the National Safety Council. It brings together operations and EHS leaders from across all industries to discuss the issues that matter most to them. Below are summaries of the workshops featured this year during the 2014 NSC Congress & Expo.

Executive Edge Track A panel focuses on forward thinking

Safety professionals can approach their job in a couple of different ways.

They can wait and react after something goes wrong. Or, they can be proactive and try to get ahead of potential incidents by using big data analytics and other key methods.

The latter approach was the focus of Executive Edge Track Workshop A, “Predicting the Unpredictable: Leading Indicator and Risk Management Strategies on the Journey to Zero.” The workshop included presentations by EHS leaders, as well as discussions about how to manage and try to predict fatal incidents, environmental releases, natural disasters and other events by using advanced metrics and evaluating risk trends.

The workshop featured four top safety professionals:

  • Tom Daniel, global EH&S leader, Owens Corning (panelist)
  • Stephen Newell, executive vice president and founding member, ORCHSE Strategies LLC (panelist)
  • Michelle Garner-Janna, director of corporate health and safety, Cummins Inc.(moderator)
  • Erick Walberth, director of safety and environment, Schneider Electric (moderator)

More than 100 attendees signed up for the event.

Executive Edge Track B panel tackles complex questions

Plenty of obstacles exist along the “Journey to Zero.”

EHS professionals retire. Other employees accept new positions. Throughout the process, multi-national organizations often stretch across a dozen time zones.

Yet worker safety and risk reduction can thrive despite times of transition. EHS professionals discussed how to create and sustain a successful safety culture in a global setting during the Executive Edge Track Workshop B, “Powered by People: Global Talent and Succession Strategies on the Journey to Zero.”

The workshop included advice on ways companies can recruit, develop and retain highly qualified EHS professionals to promote safety both domestically and abroad. Part of the workshop also focused on succession planning and how companies can find the next generation of safety talent.

The session featured presentations by Mieke Jacobs, employee safety global practice leader for DuPont Sustainable Solutions, and Eva LaBonte, workers’ compensation program manager for Nike. Moderating the event were Rudy Hagen, director of strategic planning for Georgia-Pacific LLC, and Francene Scott-Diehl, EHS manager for SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment in Orlando, FL.

Michaels and Hersman: ‘Safety pays’

On Sept. 16, during the 2014 NSC Congress & Expo, OSHA and the National Safety Council renewed their Alliance – agreeing to work together to foster safer and healthier workplaces. Here, OSHA administrator David Michaels and NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman offer their shared view on the importance of employer investment in safety.

When Paul O’Neill became CEO of Alcoa, he gave every employee his home phone number and asked them to call any time of day if they identified something that put them or a co-worker at risk. O’Neill was sending a clear message to his employees: Keeping them safe was his No. 1 priority – above profits and production.

Alcoa thrived. From 1987 to 1999, the company reduced its lost workday rate from 1.86 to 0.23. Simultaneously, Alcoa’s market value increased from ?$3 billion in 1986 to $27.5 billion in 2000.

Safety pays. Employers that focus on employee health enjoy higher worker morale and performance, experience fewer health care costs, and are better equipped to weather economic recessions.

Yet, 12 workers are killed on the job every day in the United States, and more than 10,000 suffer a serious injury.

The numbers of deaths and injuries have improved significantly since passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act more than 40 years ago. But far too many workers still do not leave work in the same condition that they arrived.

Workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities take an enormous toll, not only on workers and their families, but also on our nation’s economy and businesses. Fatal and nonfatal work injuries cost our economy $198.2 billion each year – that’s over half a billion dollars every day!

Investing in safety makes financial sense. Unfortunately, misperceptions abound about the cost of providing safe and healthful workplaces. Some employers believe compliance with federal safety and health standards will be too costly. Many have an “it won’t happen to me” attitude, and others simply prioritize financial gains over protecting people. But data shows that investing in safety is not just prudent, it is also profitable.

This is demonstrated routinely at companies that belong to the Campbell Institute, the global Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) center of excellence at the National Safety Council. Schneider Electric, DM Petroleum and Fluor Hanford – all winners of the prestigious Robert W. Campbell Award – saw reductions in workers’ compensation costs following implementation of strong EHS programs.

Schneider Electric’s workers’ compensation costs dropped 40 percent, and the company is projected to save $10 million. DM Petroleum’s management system resulted in reduction of waste generation and spill incidents, accounting for more than $3.8 million in cost avoidance. Fluor Hanford reduced workers’ compensation costs by $7 million annually.

The National Safety Council also tracked the market value of some publicly traded Campbell Award winners. Schneider Electric’s stock leaped from $22.59 per share in 1999 to $60 per share in 2013. DM Petroleum jumped from $32.71 to $51.41, and Fluor Hanford grew from $31.75 to $64.25.

Once employers understand the connection between safety and financial health and wellness, many act accordingly.

Creating a safety culture is not a singular moment; it’s a journey. Employers must commit to continuous risk reduction with a goal of zero injuries. Even employers with world-class safety programs have to double down and recommit to safety every day.

Actions speak louder than words. If safety is the cornerstone of business vitality and achieved through risk reduction, leadership and employee engagement are linchpins.

Not every CEO must give employees a personal phone number. But every CEO must be a watchdog not only for the financial well-being of the company, but for the welfare of his or her employees. The best CEOs understand that the two are not mutually exclusive.

Deborah A.P. Hersman
President and CEO
National Safety Council
David Michaels
Assistant Secretary of Labor