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2020 CEOs Who "Get It"

2020 CEOs Who 'Get It'

January 26, 2020
2020 CEOs Who
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Browse individual CEO profiles by clicking on a photo below or by pressing the navigation buttons at the top of each page.

  • Charles A. Bacon IIICharles A. Bacon III
  • Kim BassettKim Bassett
  • Nanci FieldsNanci Fields
  • Paula Gold-WilliamsPaula Gold-Williams
  • James D. HoffmanJames D. Hoffman
  • Sean D. KeohaneSean D. Keohane
  • Stuart MacVeanStuart MacVean
  • Lt. Gen. Todd SemoniteLt. Gen. Todd Semonite
  • Michael K. VanoverMichael K. Vanover

 

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Bacon

Charles A. Bacon III

CEO
Limbach Facility Services
Pittsburgh


Accomplishments

  • Instrumental in the development of “Safety Week,” a nationwide construction industry event.
  • Actively participates in the Hearts & Minds Safety Forum, a safety, health and training program.
  • Company meetings begin with a message of safety and well-being, highlighting safety challenges, areas of opportunity and key safety wins that have helped drive safe completion of work.

Founded in 1901, Limbach Facility Services is the seventh-largest mechanical systems solutions firm in the United States, providing building infrastructure services, with an expertise in the design, installation and maintenance of heating, ventilation and air conditioning and mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems for a diversified group of commercial and institutional building owners. The firm employs more than 1,700 workers.

Why is safety a core value at your organization?

Actually, safety is not a core value of Limbach, but a result of our core values: demonstrating and promoting a culture of caring, striving for excellence, acting with integrity, striving to be the most innovative, being competitive, and holding ourselves accountable to each other.

We developed the Hearts and Minds Commitment to Safety Program as a way for our employees and customers to live their life beyond the numbers. We call it “Beyond Zero.” The Hearts and Minds Commitment to Safety Program was designed to take pride in caring for not only your own safety, but those around you, including our families and all the people we work beside every day.

 

Describe your personal journey to becoming a CEO who “gets it.” What experiences or lessons brought you to where you are now?

I grew up in a blue-collar, construction-related family. Accidents were talked about, and I occasionally would hear about a fatality from my father, uncles and grandfathers – all of whom were part of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local Union 138 in Long Island, NY. After graduating from college with a construction management degree, I joined a small construction management firm in New York City. Shortly after joining, I witnessed the aftermath of a fatality and thought it was just part of the risks in the industry. Accidents happen.

Years later, I became CEO of that company, which had grown dramatically. During the years of moving up the ranks, I learned that a great safety program isn’t looking at safety as a priority. A great program is embedded culturally. As CEO, I successfully drove the “We Care” culture throughout that firm, which, at the time, had 26 offices between North and South America and was generating $3.4 billion in revenue. During my time as CEO and after my departure in 2003, I spoke at numerous industry conferences about the success being enjoyed, and soon other major competitors started to follow.

Soon after joining Limbach as the CEO in 2004, I launched the “We Care” program. Our company just came out of the Enron bankruptcy, and morale was very low. “We Care” became a rallying message, and it helped save the company. Since then we have enjoyed a strong safety record. In 2017, I decided to rename our safety program to “Hearts & Minds.” Our training is based on winning people over. Winning over their hearts, about caring for each other, and minds, to apply the technical knowledge to stay out of harm’s way. Limbach is a special company that truly cares about its employees and their families.

 

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

One thing we have learned throughout the years is that all employees want to do a good job, they want to make their supervisors and company proud, and they want to get the project done on time and on budget. Somewhere along the way of life, people believe that they can skip a step or two without too many repercussions and still get it done on time and on budget, or even sooner and cheaper, while making everyone happy. At the end of the day, that strategy does not work. Take, for example, your commute to work. If you are like most, you drove from home to work. When you were first learning to drive, you were taught all the correct safety rules: don’t speed, wear seat belts, use your turn signals and stay off mobile devices. But along the way, you have skipped one or two of those rules, believing it would get you there “sooner or cheaper.” Most of the time, skipping a few rules has resulted in no harm to yourself or others. But every day it costs someone severely. Sadly, just watching the news every night, you see an event that you know a safety rule was broken and it cost someone their life.

Our biggest obstacle is getting employees to follow the rules that we know save lives, following them every time and assisting those you know who skipped one of those minor steps. Ninety-nine percent of the time, our employees follow the rules. It is up to the whole team to remember that during the other 1% of the time, they need to step back on the safe path, reminding them that, at Limbach, we are not about “sooner and cheaper,” but being safe and accurate. We can explain a delay for safety, but we can’t explain a delay for an injury.

 

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

The Hearts and Minds Commitment to Safety Program was developed for safety – to be part of everything we do, not just another rule to follow. Education, engineering, encouragement and enforcement are the four main categories we follow.

  1. Education is a big part of our program, including:
    • Six-hour orientation program
    • 6-hour “the Hearts” of the “Hearts & Minds” course
    • Four-hour “the Mind” supervisor course
    • Limbach PACE training (drivers education)
    • OSHA 30-hour requirements
    • 24-Hours Annual Education policy
    • Weekly safety lessons and safety talks
    • This does not include specific safety standards such as confined space, NFPA 70E, fall protection, etc.
  2. Engineering is where you will find the programs that are built with the company’s policies and procedures, including the company’s daily huddle, where risk and hazards are evaluated based on the task. Engineering also includes preplanning, site-specific safety plan of action, team hand-off from department to department and design by team concept – getting the right people in the room at the right time.
  3. No human can go without encouragement, and this doesn’t discount the tough, hard-working contractors. Limbach has developed the LIMBUCK program, which helps support the core values – not just safety. Nominations are sent from customers, fellow employees and supervisors, and winners are awarded LIMBUCK cash, which can be used at the company store for anything from shirts to tents and grills.
  4. Several years ago, Limbach’s Safety Accountability Program, or SAP, was developed as an enforcement program, but it was written in a way that really gave clear-cut answers to what the company requires. There is a list of rules that, if broken, can result in either simple coaching from management or termination. Knowing these rules ahead of time and understanding the reason for them supports a defined safety culture. We also put in place an incident-review team, resulting in these decisions being made as a team and not just up to an individual.

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?

A weekly scorecard is completed for management, safety professionals and foremen, including the number of huddles completed, observations completed, corrective actions completed, training completed, claims filed within a timeline, return-to-duty status, safety committee meetings, vehicle inspections, customer outreach program and professional training by safety department members.

All of these programs are to assist with reviewing leading indicators and not the standard safety TRIR and DART ratings. Those types of measurements are too late to stop an injury or prevent property damage.

 

What role does off-the-job safety play in your organization’s overall safety program? What types of off-the-job safety and health programs does your organization offer to employees?

Limbach has been known for at-home safety gifts to all employees, including safety glasses for the whole family, emergency car kits, gloves for gardening, oven mitts and employees’ written letters to their loved ones. “Bring safety home” has been a huge part of the Hearts and Minds Commitment to Safety process. Several branches have built in a wellness program for the family to participate in with their local YMCAs, they provided free safety training to family members in fire prevention, CPR/AED, self-defense and child car seat testing with local safety professionals. We also have assisted with teen defensive driving courses.

 



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Kim Bassett

Kim Bassett

President and CEO
Bassett Mechanical
Kaukauna, WI


Accomplishments

  • Invests in safety through state-of-the-art safety gear, safety trainings, Lean/Kaizen events and initiatives, and a behavior-based safety program.
  • Serves as a core member of the behavioral observation review team, engaging associates to help problem-solve and prevent hazards.
  • Crafts a monthly safety message to associates promoting safe behaviors and speaking up when they see something unsafe, including an open-door policy for her personally.
  • Believes that meeting safety minimums are never enough and that continuous improvement is paramount.

Bassett Mechanical provides custom-built industrial refrigeration; heating, ventilation and air conditioning; plumbing; metal fabrication; and preventive maintenance service solutions to customers throughout the United States and the world. The company has more than 400 workers.

Why is safety a core value at your organization?

Core values are the fundamental beliefs of a person or organization, and these guiding principles dictate behavior. At Bassett Mechanical, our core values represent the way we empower our associates to make the best choices for themselves and each other. These choices go beyond providing honest and value-added solutions for our customers, and extend to making the best decision for the health and safety of others. Safety here goes beyond daily planning, toolbox talks and frequent training. We genuinely care about each member of our Bassett Mechanical family and believe that all injuries are preventable. We are dedicated to providing a safe and injury-free workplace for all our associates, our customers and the public at large in all that we do. To us, nothing is more important than making sure our associates go home every day the way they arrived in the morning, which is why our values give power to our associates to halt all work if necessary until they feel a task can be performed safely.

 

Describe your personal journey to becoming a CEO who “gets it.” What experiences or lessons brought you to where you are now?

As the third-generation owner of our family business, I grew up with many of our associates who are still with us today. I attended company picnics, spent Saturdays in the office with my dad, and worked with our associates during holiday breaks and summer vacations throughout high school and college. I knew everyone’s spouse, children and families. When I came back to the company for a career after having been gone for a number of years, many of the same people were still here, just a little older. I was grateful to be able to work once again with our Bassett Mechanical family.

When I started my professional career with Bassett Mechanical, I worked in various roles over many years to learn about our business, the inherent risks and saw the business through the lens of our associates. From working in the shop to working alongside our field foremen, sales leaders and executives, I experienced firsthand the intricacies and uniqueness of our business, as well as the hurdles that must be overcome every day, from safety planning to successful execution. Having observed a few near misses while in the field and shop, it opened my eyes and motivated me even more than ever to ensure every one of our associates kept safety top of mind 24/7.

When I became president and CEO, I incorporated Lean safety as the platform from which we would run and manage our business. Not only did this methodology support an efficient and value-added business model, it concentrated on safety and respect for people as keys to success. We practice the 6S’s of Lean by adding “safety” as one of the pillars.

 

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

Our risks are ever-changing. Each day we face new environments, unique project requirements, temperamental weather, and the pressure to ensure the highest quality product and service for our customers. In a traditional safety-focused environment, we might track and acknowledge incidents as they happen and try to prohibit them from happening in the future. When it comes to the safety of our associates, “ordinary” was not a high enough standard. We wanted to take safety a step further and implement a program in which we identified potential risks before they happened, with the intention of eliminating the risk completely and lessening the likelihood of any injuries in the future.

Our desire to pursue a proactive safety initiative led us to implement a behavior-based safety program. BBS is a process that creates a safety partnership among all levels of an organization, with attention to daily behaviors and actions. It applies the science of behavior change to real workplace situations. Our BBS program creates a focus on risk-reducing decision-making and continuous improvement to ultimately provide the safest work environment possible. It does not place blame on the individual and is not centered on stringent rules or policies. Through peer-to-peer observations, interactions and courageous conversations, this type of program engages our associates directly with safety and provides leading indicator safety data, which can help identify risks before safety incidents occur.

In the rare occurrence of an incident, our investigation process engages the individual to help determine their experience, thoughts and ideas of how the incident could be prevented in the future. This firsthand experience is then shared with others across the organization to increase awareness and minimize the risk amongst others who may be exposed to a similar potential hazard.

 

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

The strongest message we can send as a company is that each life is valued and important, and therefore we will not compromise when it comes to safety. Risking one’s safety is nonnegotiable, even for the betterment of performance, outcomes or timelines. When everyone feels empowered to make decisions to protect one’s self, each other and our customers, right choices prevail. We feel responsible for each other’s well-being. That is the message we aim to send every day to our associates.

Safety begins when a new hire starts. They not only are trained on safety best practices, but also on our company’s values, which include safety as our No. 1 value. Our executive team leaders regularly visit our shop and field crews to discuss risks, to ensure accessibility to needed personal protective equipment and training, and to share the message that each person and their family is important to us. Everyone across the organization is expected to participate in a daily stretch and flex at the start of each day. This helps to reduce the occurrence of strains and sprains and gives the collective group an opportunity to talk about the risks for work being done that day.

I am an active member of our steering committee that oversees the BBS team. The message we send is that safety is everyone’s responsibility. We encourage participation in safety throughout the organization by establishing safety participation goals on annual reviews, creating proactive metrics, tracking and acting on submissions for safety improvement opportunities, and participating in our safety committees and observation programs. We stay in tune with our safety metrics and share our statistics and observations weekly. I enjoy sending out a personalized monthly message to our associates reminding them that I am here to support their safe efforts and to listen to any ideas on ways we can improve.

 

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?

Similar to other companies, we track OSHA incident rate, OSHA recordable incidents and lost-time injuries. We also look at other measures of mitigating risks and injuries – including near misses and safety improvement opportunities – which helps us identify trends and correct potential hazards before they can cause any harm. Through BBS, we also track the number of safety observations, safe actions observed and observed risks. Each of these observations are opportunities for our associates to discuss safety in our day-to-day activities and keep it at the forefront of everything we do. Each risk observed is then tracked, documented and discussed with our steering committee to evaluate follow-up actions and communications necessary to minimize the risk of that particular activity. Data and trends are analyzed and, as a result, a monthly topic is highlighted and shared with everyone.

 

What role does off-the-job safety play in your organization’s overall safety program? What types of off-the-job safety and health programs does your organization offer to employees?

Safety is not just on the jobsite. It’s not just in the manufacturing facility. Safety starts when you wake in the morning with a healthy mind and a strong body. Safety continues on your ride to work, your trip to lunch and your carpool to your kid’s soccer games. Our associates are important not only to our business and to our customers, but also to their families and friends who care deeply about them.

With the trend of distracted driving, we recently implemented a tool that will not allow for texts while operating a motor vehicle. This is a requirement for any company-owned phone and highly encouraged for personal devices as well.

During our annual National Safety Week celebration, we ask for our associates to tell us why they stay safe. What keeps them in check? What are they looking forward to that motivates them to prioritize safety? Every year I enjoy our associates’ submissions of pictures with their families, upcoming fishing trips, pets, new cars and their joys beyond the doors of Bassett Mechanical. They are a perfect representation of why it’s vital that we focus on safety each day. We also compile videos submitted by their families thanking our associates for staying safe each day and reminding every one of us that safety isn’t only about the company or the individual, it’s about you, us, them and each other.

We believe in healthy minds and strong bodies. We believe in supporting our associates to be their best selves each day. Our company encourages healthy behaviors by providing wellness challenges, stress education and reduction activities, weight loss programs and support, health club reimbursements, self-funded insurance programs, free weekly fruit delivery, exercise programs and initiatives, smoking cessation programs, and discounts on well-balanced food onsite. Our wellness committee continues to take suggestions and look for ways to create a healthier work environment and healthier people.

The extensive expertise and knowledge of our associates is our greatest asset. I want everyone to go home the way they arrived in the morning because the lives of each one of our Bassett Mechanical family members is priceless. I do many things in my role as president and CEO, but doing my best to keep our associates safe is by far the most important.

 



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Nanci Fields

Nanci Fields

CEO
Gallman Personnel Services, Inc.
Columbia, SC


Accomplishments

  • Encouraged the purchase of high-visibility T-shirts and cooling rags for all staff and associates, and each Friday of National Safety Month, she dons her hi-vis shirt.
  • Promotes and supports the company’s safety specialist to further her safety education.
  • Supports turning down client business when it does not meet the company’s standards for safety.

Gallman Personnel Services Inc. is a privately held temporary staffing and direct hire company. GPS employs more than 300 people in three states, including temporary and contract staff at various industrial and clerical client locations.

Why is safety a core value at your organization?

GPS correlates safety to long-term success because if we have clients who value properly training their personnel and our associates on best safety practices, with our diligence of reviewing risks associated with placing associates, the likelihood of a successful partnership is achievable. It also supports our daily mission of serving the communities in which we have a presence by having healthy and productive employees who go home in the same condition as when they arrived at work.

 

Describe your personal journey to becoming a CEO who “gets it.” What experiences or lessons brought you to where you are now?

I came to GPS as a very young adult with little to no work experience and no previous conceptions as to what a workplace should or should not be. Charlie Gallman, founder of GPS, took me on and showed me what it takes to be a good leader and how to truly care about and for everyone we touch through our service. He encouraged, challenged and supported my growth as a young career woman. It is these things he gave me that I strive to pay forward each day to those I serve. Yes, those I serve! To the individuals I serve, I want to support, encourage, challenge and ensure their well-being. With that comes safety. Safety isn’t just about not getting injured in the workplace. It is keeping individuals safe from harm, educated to identify unsafe conditions and knowledgeable about what to do if they are ever put in harm’s way. Employees deserve a safe work environment – safe from hazardous conditions, threats, discrimination and malicious intent, as well as instruction on what to do if they find themselves in an unsafe environment. Simply put, keeping employees safe is the right thing to do.

 

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

There is no shortage of obstacles in the staffing industry. Our associates work at client locations across three states without our direct supervision. Before placing an associate, we provide general safety training and some client-specific training. This training tends to make our onboarding process long for new hires. However, we assure them that it is to ensure their safety because we care about them. Our safety specialist performs audits of our client locations prior to initial placement of an associate. These safety audits are repeated every six months to ensure our associates are trained and working in a safe environment. Some clients give pushback on the safety audits until they understand we are there to support and supplement their own safety programs.

 

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

As CEO, I decided to invest in the safety education of our staff in 2018 and 2019 by sending all staff, including myself, to a National Safety Council OSHA 10-hour class. The OSHA 10 card has empowered us to make wise business decisions concerning placing our associates and provided us with the confidence to have the tough conversations with our associates and clients concerning safety issues that may arise in the workplace. We have quarterly check-in conversations with our associates to confirm they are receiving the appropriate ongoing training, including participation in safety meetings run by our clients. We developed our Safety Hotline to provide a means for associates to report any safety hazards or concerns anonymously. Associates receive a high-visibility safety T-shirt imprinted with “Safety is everybody’s job … my job, your job!” For some clients, these shirts have become the daily attire for our associates. Associates and staff are encouraged to post pictures of themselves sporting their safety T-shirt on our social media page during National Safety Month. We also provide weekly safety tips via our social media accounts.

 

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?

Safety is ever-changing for us because as our client base changes, so does the workplace landscape – what works today may need to be altered tomorrow. For starters, we track and review quarterly the nature and types of incidents, as well as the lag time to report by the client. This allows us to identify potential issues among specific clients that can be addressed head on. This also provides leading indicators of new hazards, which we incorporate into our client safety audits. Having interactive discussions with our clients concerning their safety programs, as well as their leading and lagging indicators, has helped GPS understand the risks involved at various industrial environments. Just a few of the leading indicators we look for at client locations are job hazard analyses, safety meeting content, safety training content, safety committees and incident investigations with corrective actions. GPS is constantly looking for new and inventive ways to ensure the safety of our employees.

 

What role does off-the-job safety play in your organization’s overall safety program? What types of off-the-job safety and health programs does your organization offer to employees?

The overall health and safety of our associates and staff is at the core of our business model. The OSHA 10 class allowed our staff to feel empowered, confident and knowledgeable concerning safety hazards both at work and at home. We have had some spouses complain of new “honey-do lists” with household safety projects. We conduct routine safety drills that include hurricane, fire and active shooter situations to ensure our staff knows what to do and how to keep themselves safe. Our safety specialist routinely emails seasonal safety tips to include both home and work safety tips. Our staff is provided with two monthly newsletters concerning healthy choice decisions for everyday life situations. We distribute the National Safety Council’s Family Safety & Health magazine to each of our offices, as well as to our active clients, providing continued safety awareness and education.

 



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Paula Gold-Williams

Paula Gold-Williams

President and CEO
CPS Energy
San Antonio


Accomplishments

  • Elevated the senior director of safety to chief security, safety and gas solutions officer, signifying the importance of safety in operational decision-making.
  • Integrated safety into the goals of every employee and contractor. Safety metrics were created to improve on past performance and drive continuous improvement.
  • Oversaw development of the mission statement “Safety Rules to Live By,” and instituted “Manager in the Field” day, when leaders identify hazards and foster employee engagement.

CPS Energy is the nation’s largest municipally owned electric and gas company. Leading with a people-first culture, CPS has been providing safe and secure, affordable, reliable, resilient, and environmentally responsible power to more than 1 million customers and nearly 2 million Texans since 1860. The company has nearly 3,200 employees.

 

Why is safety a core value at your organization?

We are a community-owned organization that remains focused on keeping people first. Safety is therefore a top priority and core value at CPS Energy. We in turn strive for a consistent “zero harm” environment, whereby the health, safety and overall well-being of all our employees is fundamental to the success of our business.

Companywide, we have further refreshed our focus on our customers and communities that complements our people-first philosophy. This philosophy is as simple as it sounds – we must unselfishly do the right thing for the right reason, especially to keep everyone safe.

 

Describe your personal journey to becoming a CEO who “gets it.” What experiences or lessons brought you to where you are now?

I am very proud to be a product of San Antonio! I was born here and am “powered” here. This is where my career journey started in accounting and where I gained experience in various industries. Through many challenging opportunities, I have focused increasingly on people. This is true because throughout my career, particularly at CPS Energy, I have learned that it is a true privilege to lead and to protect others from harm. I am a big believer in just saying “yes” and making sure that you say it a lot. Take all opportunities into consideration – don’t just envision being successful. Think through where taking a risk could lead to failure and then think deeper about the important steps that can prevent problems, while simultaneously ensuring success.

Opportunities will come, but our motivations cannot be primarily about job titles and delusions of grandeur. More importantly, it is about the substance and value that you bring to your role. That is what begets opportunities to work and live, both securely and safely. We are an organization with lots of different professions. They include skilled/craft workers, accountants, engineers, energy advisers and the list goes on. These days, all of us must operate within a landscape of ambiguity and gray, which can make people feel uncomfortable. Every day, I challenge my team members to be OK with ambiguity. They need to be able to respond to needed changes in their environment quickly and methodically. One of my relatives often says, “Change is inevitable; resistance to change is futile.” So the more you can keep accepting reality shifts and use the new momentum to invigorate your creativity, the more you and your organization will benefit. I think this is an important reminder when it comes to safety, as our surroundings and day-to-day activities can change at any given moment.

 

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

Our biggest safety obstacle to overcome is cyclical complacency. CPS Energy has been in the utility business for nearly 160 years, with a rich history of employees staying in the organization well beyond their retirement eligibility. Naturally, we may sometimes get caught up in our day-to-day routine. Unconsciously, we can take for granted our surroundings and the people we work with. It can, in turn, be a challenge for some to be present and in the moment if some tasks are repetitive. Between 2010 and 2017, we decreased our recordable injury rate from 3.06 to 0.54, achieving a top-decile industry ranking. Over an eight-year period, we have successfully reduced the number of incidents and accidents by over 82%.

Unfortunately, though, we have seen an increase over the past of couple years in our injuries. We learned that what got us to excellent performance will not keep us there. As a result, we remain committed to refreshing our safety focus comprehensively throughout each year. To mitigate and prevent further reoccurrence, we have invested countless hours into preventive measures, with the understanding that being proactive is a superior option to only being reactive. A few strategies we are implementing to combat complacency include a laser-focus view on our safety culture. This ongoing process continues to transform our enterprise as we create a new grassroots safety team, one continually focused on culture. We hold companywide “safety standups” after every major holiday to regroup and refocus as a team and to review preventive safety reminders.

Additionally, before every job, and even every meeting, regardless of size, we start with a “safety tailboard” to identify the nearest exit routes, points of contact in the event of an emergency, hazards and other worksite considerations. New approaches also include executive sponsorship and participation in safety messaging by reiterating our safety vision and values through campaigns such as “Stop the Job” videos. Collectively, our efforts are continually designed to empower anyone and everyone to say something if they see a concern. Our goal is to avoid complacency. Although we were very successful at driving our recordable injury rate down, maintaining that level of excellence brings a whole new set of challenges. A primary challenge is to resist the tendency of slipping back into a state of routine combined with distracted complacency. We therefore continually look for ways to refresh and reinforce our “zero harm” approach to safety.

 

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

CPS Energy is a 24/7/365 operation, and safety is paramount to what we do. Through our people-first philosophy and “zero harm” approach, we have adopted “Core Safety Covenants” that facilitate a culture of trust that empower people to make safe and secure choices. Some covenants reinforce that “each employee understands that working safe is a way of life” and “each leader owns the safety performance of the employees, contractors, vendors, and visitors for which he or she is connected to.” Our leaders set the safety expectation, and our employees are empowered to fulfill that commitment.

 

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?

Our “zero harm” culture means that every decision is made with safety at the forefront. Our expectation is that this concept is integrated into the work goals of every employee and contractor who works for CPS Energy. Metrics are created based on past performance, benchmarking and continuous improvement. We vow to not be satisfied until “zero harm” is achieved and maintained. Year after year, safety has been included on our Balanced Scorecard as an important corporate metric. A few years back, the primary safety metric was the recordable injury rate. To ensure we were not inherently discouraging the reporting of accidents, last year we added and prioritized the OSHA severity rate above the RIR. The severity rate is a measure of the number of lost work days experienced per 100 workers to maintain a commitment to safety excellence. As of July, we had exceeded our severity performance threshold; however, we already are leaning into new program enhancements that favorably change our safety landscape. Additional activities we are working toward to strengthen our “zero harm” goals include increased training and certifications for safety professionals and enhanced partnerships with internal customers.

 

What role does off-the-job safety play in your organization’s overall safety program? What types of off-the-job safety and health programs does your organization offer to employees?

A major objective of our wellness program is to encourage an awareness of health and well-being and the importance of a healthy lifestyle inside and outside of the workplace. Some wellness incentives include:

  • Reduced fees for gym memberships in which CPS Energy and the local YMCA subsidize a portion of the membership cost
  • Free annual flu shots for employees at all CPS Energy locations
  • Wellness grants to promote increased physical activity, in which groups of employees are eligible to receive a reimbursement for the cost of registration fees and certain equipment
  • The Healthy Café Discount Program, in which employees receive a price reduction when they purchase healthy food options in the company’s cafeterias, including special healthy entrees that are promoted each week
  • Activities to promote increased physical activity, such as the “Sit for 60, Move for 3” program and our main office indoor walking path that encourages employees with desk jobs to move more throughout the day
  • Presentations on the importance of healthy eating habits and hydration for our field workers who spend most of their workday outdoors, often in extreme weather conditions

These are just some of the things to highlight. We remain committed to future program improvements because it will be the difference in protecting everyone in any way we can.

 



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James D. Hoffman

James D. Hoffman

President and CEO
Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co.
Los Angeles


Accomplishments

  • Includes safety data alongside financial results and other measurable goals at leadership meetings.
  • Regularly makes phone calls to recognize employees when they perform safe acts.
  • Focuses on identifying and replicating leading indicators to build up safety culture at each of Reliance’s 300-plus locations, through “Circles of Safety” – a companywide self-evaluation initiative.
  • Encourages all employees to participate in the company’s wellness program.

Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. is the largest metals service center company in North America, employing more than 15,000 workers. Through a network of more than 300 locations in 40 states and 13 countries, Reliance provides value-added metals processing services and distributes a full line of 100,000-plus metal products to more than 125,000 customers in a broad range of industries.

 

Why is safety a core value at your organization?

As a family of companies, it is our greatest obligation – and moral responsibility – to keep our entire family of more than 15,000 employees across 300-plus locations safe. Moreover, having a skilled and engaged workforce simply makes good business sense. While safety is everyone’s responsibility, our management team believes in and promotes this essential message every day.

 

Describe your personal journey to becoming a CEO who “gets it.” What experiences or lessons brought you to where you are now?

Growing up in Pittsburgh, it was common for college students to work in the steel mills during summer breaks. My experience in the mills gave me firsthand knowledge of what an unsafe working environment might look like. As my career in the metals industry began and progressed from sales to operations, and ultimately to management, I always made it a point to walk the plant floor to observe working conditions and be actively involved in safety programs. It only takes seeing one person get hurt – and the ripple effect the injury has on the injured colleague’s family and co-workers – to make safety truly personal. As COO and now CEO at Reliance, it has been – and continues to be – my personal priority to do all I can to support the success of our safety programs and ensure we move metal safely. I want all of us to take safety personally.

 

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

Like many organizations, complacency is a common culprit. People get good at doing their jobs and, after a number of years, can start taking simple but important safety precautions for granted. Reliance combats complacency with our SMART Safety program, which promotes peer-to-peer accountability and engagement. Our Corporate Safety Team holds regional symposiums and shares tools and innovative training approaches. We have an internal mentoring program in which companies can observe and learn best practices from one another. We also fight complacency by continually investing in cutting-edge equipment. Our employees are eager to learn about and operate the newest technologies and take great pride in the products they help produce.

 

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

Our peer-to-peer SMART Safety program – entering its fourth year – is all about making safety real to each and every employee, whether on the warehouse floor, behind the wheel or in an office setting. Each year’s theme (Our Safest Year Yet; Be a SMART Hero; One Family, One Culture of SMART Safety; Make it Personal) is intended to appeal to an overarching ideal of safety. In the workplace, we encourage reporting and resolution of near misses. All of our employees have a voice in their own and one another’s safety. We recognize our “safety influencers” and our subsidiary companies’ accident-free records by featuring them on our companywide intranet.

 

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?

In the past, we have focused on OSHA recordables, self-reporting, TRIR and DART. While those are still important objective measures, in 2020, we are rolling out our SMART Observations System, where we will be able to capture near misses, positive observations and hazard resolutions in real time.

 

What role does off-the-job safety play in your organization’s overall safety program? What types of off-the-job safety and health programs does your organization offer to employees?

The Reliance approach to safety is holistic – everything is connected. We believe that safe employees are aware of their actions not just on the job, but also in all other areas of their life, and this cycle repeats itself and spreads peer to peer, shift to shift, location to location and onward across the organization. Our health and welfare benefits – in particular, our companywide wellness program – help foster work-life balance. Participation is above the industry average. Safety goes beyond policy compliance to physical fitness, nutrition and other personal areas, which in turn enables our employees to be positive contributors to both Reliance and the larger communities in which they live.

 



2020 CEOs Who Get it
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Sean D. Keohane

Sean D. Keohane

President and CEO
Cabot Corp.
Boston


Accomplishments

  • Actively participates in incident reviews and expects everyone to fully understand causes and take corrective actions that bear results, to drive Cabot to continue on the path of improvement.
  • Works with regional and facility personnel in the review of incidents that result in lost workday injuries.
  • Shares the direction in which he is taking the company for the business and SH&E, then encourages questions. Makes time and listens to front-line workers, takes time to reflect, and provides status feedback on the changes that are being made.

Cabot Corp. is a leading global specialty chemicals and performance materials company that has delivered innovative solutions to customers for more than 135 years. It is a leading provider of rubber and specialty carbons, activated carbon, inkjet colorants, masterbatches and conductive compounds, fumed silica, and aerogel. Cabot employs 4,500 workers.

 

Why is safety a core value at your organization?

As a leading global performance materials and specialty chemicals company, we understand the role that we play in leading and setting an example in our industry. Our employees are our most valuable asset, and it is our responsibility as an employer to provide a safe work environment and promote wellness across the workforce. This focus on health and safety has been deeply ingrained in our company throughout our history and serves as a central theme in our culture. Our goal is for all employees to return home in the same condition as when they arrived at work. We also strive to help employees lead healthy lifestyles through a variety of initiatives and benefits. We believe that a strong safety culture contributes to the overall success of our business. It allows us to retain talent, remain operational and serve our customers as a reliable partner. We have come to recognize that excellence in safety translates into excellence in all operational areas of our company. As a result, we are diligent in measuring and monitoring our related performance. We continue to pursue excellence in occupational health and safety to better protect our employees, contractors, neighbors and the environment.

 

Describe your personal journey to becoming a CEO who “gets it.” What experiences or lessons brought you to where you are now?

I firmly believe that all workplace injuries are preventable. Throughout my career, I’ve had the benefit of learning from great mentors and witnessing the value of safety-oriented workplaces. I learned a long time ago from one of my mentors that safety comes down to three things: attitude, awareness and execution. Are we bringing the right attitude to work each day and holding all of our team members to that same standard? What are we doing to constantly raise the awareness of hazards in the workplace? And finally, are we following the procedures that the company has laid out to safeguard our health? If the answer to all of these questions is yes, the likelihood of injuries is significantly reduced.

Having worked at Cabot for the past 17 years and traveled to our sites around the world, I know that our people are capable of operating safely and responsibly, and I am proud of the many sites in our network that have gone multiple years without a recordable injury. As CEO, it is my responsibility to make safety our top priority as a company.

Safety, health and the environment, along with site security, are critical components of our culture. As part of our Drive to Zero initiative, we have set a long-term goal of having no injuries at our facilities worldwide. To help meet this goal, we provide training to all employees on safety procedures that meets or exceeds all applicable government regulations and internal standards. We hold ourselves accountable to demonstrate our company values and continuously improve the way we operate.

 

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

As I mentioned before, I firmly believe that obstacles to a safe workplace can be attributed to one of the following: attitude, awareness and execution. A key factor in keeping employees safe at our manufacturing facilities is our careful attention to process safety. Each of our facilities is required to develop and implement a safety program that upholds the SH&E policy and meets all applicable health and safety laws, as well as our company standards. This program provides oversight for all direct activities occurring in our facilities and within our operational control, including those that could impact employees, contractors and visitors.

As part of our commitment to Responsible Care, we are focused on continuously improving the safety of our products and processes. We report our performance metrics annually and undergo external audits regularly to evaluate our program, identify gaps and undertake corrective actions as needed. In addition to the Responsible Care audits, our sites routinely undergo robust internal SH&E audits, which evaluate procedures, practices and site conditions in accordance with SH&E regulations, internal company standards and industry-recognized best practices. In the event of a process safety incident or high-potential near miss, a thorough incident evaluation is conducted to understand the root cause of the issue and assess how we may implement measures to avoid similar safety risks in the future. We share the results of these evaluations globally, so all our sites can learn from the event and reduce similar risks.

 

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

To be successful in our safety goals, it is critical that our employees feel a sense of purpose and ownership in fostering a safe workplace. At Cabot, we pride ourselves on having an accountable, safety-oriented workforce. Each member of our team understands their individual responsibility, whether they are in an office setting or a higher risk manufacturing environment. We review safety performance metrics with our employees in each facility around the globe on a regular basis.

Since 2008, we have celebrated Global Safety Day each year by taking the time to recognize our accomplishments and reaffirm our “Drive to Zero” and SH&E commitments. During Global Safety Day, our employees at each site around the world organize safety and sustainability-oriented activities to help educate their colleagues and remind us of the importance of safety. This day has built ownership and accountability throughout our network, and we have made significant progress as a result. We’ve recently expanded Global Safety Day to be Global Sustainability Day, maintaining our focus on safety, but expanding to underscore our commitment to all aspects of sustainability.

 

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?

As a company, we track metrics such as total recordable incident rate, lost time and process safety events. In 2018, we undertook a project to refresh our approach to process safety management so that we may better track our performance and identify opportunities for improvement in our program. We carefully track process safety events, and we conduct a thorough evaluation of every incident, including “high-potential near misses,” to understand the root cause of such incidents and assess how we can implement measures to avoid similar safety risks in the future across our global operations. Throughout the years, these incident learnings and our strong safety culture have kept us an industry leader in safety performance.

Although we are an industry leader, I believe even one injury is too many. We will always focus on continuous improvement to achieve our goal of zero incidents across all our facilities. We remain focused on this commitment, learn from every incident that does happen and employ industry leading SH&E best practices to keep our employees as safe as possible.

 

What role does off-the-job safety play in your organization’s overall safety program? What types of off-the-job safety and health programs does your organization offer to employees?

Caring for our employees includes more than just keeping them safe at work. Our commitment to caring for our people extends beyond workplace safety to include the well-being of our employees, communities and environment. Cabot offers comprehensive health and wellness benefits for our employees and their families. The benefits vary based on region, but include competitive health and well-being benefits, financial resources and work-life programs. We are also committed to being a responsible corporate citizen and a good neighbor. We give back to the communities in which we operate, minimize our impact on the environment and, overall, strive to be a company our employees are proud to work for.

 



2019 CEOs Who Get it
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Stuart MacVean

Stuart MacVean

President and CEO
Savannah River Nuclear Solutions
Aiken, SC


Accomplishments

  • Engaged organization management through training and communication to strengthen injury case management, resulting in increased reporting of minor injuries, increased hazard recognition and resolution, and a reduction in more significant injuries.
  • Enhanced mentoring programs to improve employee access to senior leadership, allowing senior leaders to communicate directly with small teams of employees at all levels of the company. This has increased employee understanding of safety culture, fostered relationship building through networking, and improved transparency between management and employees.

Savannah River Nuclear Solutions manages and operates the Savannah River Site in Aiken, SC. A key facility in the U.S. Department of Energy complex, SRS is dedicated to environmental stewardship, national security, supporting the nuclear weapons stockpile, and nuclear materials management and storage. SRNS also operates the Savannah River National Laboratory, a multiprogram applied research and development laboratory for the Department of Energy. SRNS employs 6,800 workers.

 

Why is safety a core value at your organization?

For 70 years, SRS has been a national leader in nuclear materials management, environmental stewardship, research and technology. The important work conducted at SRS is technically diverse, from general construction activities to high-hazard work in laboratories, handling nuclear materials and working in very remote environments, such as forests and swamps. Safety is at the heart of all that we do. Our slogan is “Safety Begins with Me,” and our employees live it. At SRNS, we believe that we make the world safer. This belief is only achievable if every person demonstrates personal ownership for his or her safety and the safety of others.

 

Describe your personal journey to becoming a CEO who “gets it.” What experiences or lessons brought you to where you are now?

My greatest lesson about the value of a healthy safety culture came in the form of firsthand experience. Early in my leadership career, an employee at a previous work location was seriously injured under my supervision. The ripple effect of that injury was not only life-changing for the affected employee, but for the family, co-workers and the leadership team. I knew in that moment that I would always remember that event and that my leadership style was forever changed. Safety is always my overriding priority, and I live that promise out every day.

 

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

Without a doubt, complacency is our greatest obstacle. An organization can have all the policies and procedures in the world, but keeping every person focused on the repetitive, everyday tasks proves to be a daily battle with comfort and familiarity.

To address complacency, we employ a multipart approach to safety communication and engagement. Some examples of tools we use include a daily morning leadership conference call, leadership engagement through a monthly president’s safety council, regular management field observations, empowered local safety improvement teams and a sitewide safety communications program that includes near-instantaneous communications tools at our fingertips. Winning the battle against complacency always requires a full-court press.

 

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

I strive to instill in employees that safety off the job is as important as safety on the job. I believe that when people value safety as a way of life, it becomes a lens through which they see the world around them. To help establish that vision for safety, I encourage employees to carry our safety culture and expectations into their homes and communities. It is important to me to recognize employees who have made a difference to the safety of others in the community. Going a step further, we strive to share our culture with our community through communications products, education outreach and corporate partnerships. My goal is to bring safety awareness to the community, then it is the way of life and of benefit to our employees, their families, neighbors and future generations of SRS employees.

 

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?

SRNS uses a collection of formal and informal indicators to monitor the health of our culture. Data is extracted and analyzed from thousands of monthly behavior-based safety observations and management field observations. Additionally, we utilize a robust safety reporting system that raises safety concerns to leadership attention and paves the way for immediate response and remedy. I believe that we have an important opportunity to develop and mature tools that establish and sustain our safety culture. SRNS has, over the past two years, experienced a wave of new hires because of attrition and new missions. Creating engaging training and mentoring opportunities that inspire our newest employees to take ownership for safety, and then passing it on to the workers that come after them, is an absolute necessity. We are up for the challenge and have developed new programs and outreach opportunities that not only address our current needs, but are going a step further by reaching out into the schools and trades to begin training the next generation of SRS employees.

 

What role does off-the-job safety play in your organization’s overall safety program? What types of off-the-job safety and health programs does your organization offer to employees?

Off-the-job safety is one of the truest measures of an organization’s culture. Safety is a matter of heart, it should not be checked at the door as employees leave the office at the end of the day and picked back up when they return in the morning. I am reminded of the health of our culture when I see SRNS employees giving back to their communities while sharing our safety practices with others. For instance, our employees volunteer their time to conduct safety walkdowns and provide protective equipment during annual days of service to United Way agencies. Likewise, each year, SRNS recognizes many employees who take action to save a life in their community, and in many cases those employees received their first aid and CPR training at work. Going a step further, SRNS works in partnership with local schools and universities to provide educational resources that underpin our safety values. We are currently working with local colleges and technical schools to develop certifications and degree programs that support the current and future needs of safety and health organizations in our local area.

 



2019 CEOs Who Get it
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Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite

Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite

54th Chief of Engineers and Commander
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Washington


Accomplishments

  • Believes that safety is not a priority, but an imperative, and must be integrated throughout all business lines in the organization.
  • Directed the implementation of safety and occupational health management systems across the enterprise. He made this an action item in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Campaign Plan, making it doctrine.
  • Insists that all incidents be reported and investigated in all categories (military, civilian, contractor, volunteers and public on Corps lands).
  • Conducts a quarterly in-person executive governance meeting with his commanders and senior leaders in which he reviews each district’s and division’s progress in implementing the Corps’ safety and occupational health management system, their challenges and best practices, and reviews mishap data for all Corps Army and contractor mishaps.
  • Led the project to support the State and Defense Departments, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the government of Iraq at the Mosul Dam – infrastructure at risk of catastrophic failure.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is a world-class engineering organization. Nearly 36,000 civilians and 750 uniformed personnel engineer solutions to the nation’s toughest challenges.

 

Why is safety a core value with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers?

Safety first became a core value in the early 1930s because of the number of fatalities and permanent disabling injuries we were experiencing both among our own workforce and our contractors. It was at that time we began our journey to put safety in the forefront of what we do. We hired safety engineers in all our commands, developed safety policies and procedures, enacted training programs, established comprehensive metrics to measure progress, and many other actions.

The USACE mission is both complex and vast in scope, with the vision to “engineer solutions to the nation’s toughest challenges.” It covers civil works to include water resource development, flood risk management, navigation, recreation, infrastructure, and environmental and emergency response. The military program’s mission provides engineering, construction, real estate, stability operations and environmental management services for the Department of Defense, other U.S. government agencies and foreign governments.

Our work comes with inherent risks and is froth with millions of hours of exposure to those risks. Therefore, safety must be integral to everything we do and is embedded in USACE DNA and culture. Safety is essential to strengthening the foundation while we deliver the program and achieve our vision. Safety is not a priority, but an imperative, and must be integrated throughout all business lines throughout the organization. Without an aggressive and robust safety program, we would not be able to carry out our vital work for the Army and the nation.

 

Describe your personal journey to becoming a CEO who “gets it.” What experiences or lessons brought you to where you are now?

For my four years at West Point, as well as more than 40 years in the Army, I have strived to be out on the ground and be the person in my command with the “muddiest boots.” I learned early on that the valuable time spent with the workforce provided a truer context and an improved perspective of the mission. I also learned firsthand and am a big believer in the adage, “An organization does best those things the boss checks.”

As the commander of the world’s largest public engineering firm, I know the value of setting a vision, and championing and implementing that vision through both the horizontal and vertical depth of the team. I also understand that a great safety program and a positive safety culture enables the organization to accomplish the tough missions safer. Policy, vision and resources are important to set a world-class safety program. Not having enough money nor time, while challenging, are not the biggest obstacles, but growing and enforcing a safety culture is.

I spend most of my time engaging the workforce down on the ground – talking to our teammates and first-line supervisors to identify weaknesses or strengths in our safety program – and getting buy-in to a world-class safety culture. As a military professional, I rely on a uniformed service that is disciplined and committed to a set of long-standing values. I tell my soldiers and civilians that discipline is “Doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.” Safety discipline and culture are the same way.

We in the Corps have employees and contractors executing a safety plan not because of fear of getting caught for noncompliance, but because they inherently understand the value of a safe workforce and workplace. Our leaders are responsible to set the conditions for a vibrant safety culture to thrive – develop the vision, resource the plan, reward good behavior and inspire their team every day to be world class. And most importantly, limit the PowerPoint briefings and presentations, get out of the office, and be a visible example of what a safety-focused leader should look and sound like. Our employees are empowered commensurate with their responsibilities, and all of us together are making a real difference for the Army and the Nation!

 

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

The USACE mission requires a highly skilled workforce. Personnel turnover is inherent across the enterprise and Army regiment units. Maintaining a positive safety culture is an ongoing effort. Succession planning, training, sustaining and appropriately resourcing our people mitigates this challenge, but more is required. Additionally, the USACE mission exists across a worldwide span and standardizing the delivery of our programs while keeping our people safe requires a bold and innovative approach.

The USACE mission has grown from $25 billion to $58 billion annually, consequently stretching our workforce and more than doubling our exposure hours to high-risk hazards. An in-depth analysis of our mishap experience reveals common causes:

  1. Taking shortcuts. (Every day we make decisions that we hope will make the job faster and more efficient.)
  2. Being overconfident. (Confidence is a good thing, but overconfidence is not.)
  3. “It’ll never happen to me” is the wrong attitude.
  4. Starting tasks with incomplete training and instruction (How often does this occur? A lot.)
  5. Poor housekeeping (A constant that has to be stressed.)
  6. Ignoring safety procedures (Purposefully failing to observe safety procedure.)
  7. Mental distraction from work (Having a bad day at home and worrying about it at work.)
  8. Complacency (I have seen this many times, not realizing that conditions have changed.)

As commander, I directed the implementation of a USACE Safety and Occupational Health Management System (CE-SOHMS). Mere compliance to standards was not enough – we needed to take bold steps to better protect our most important asset: our people. A systems approach allows us to measure not just what we do, but the processes we use to deliver our programs. The “what” is individual centric, while the “how” can be measured and improved. We inculcated this systems approach into our doctrine through policy letters, engineering regulations, added it to our Campaign Plan, and measure progress at our quarterly governance meetings. The cornerstone of CE-SOHMS requires all leaders to meaningfully engage in the management of our safety program and for all employees to participate in improving our processes. This frees up our safety professionals to gather data, conduct analysis, teach, coach and mentor, thus lending their technical expertise to the entire workforce. This approach has served to promote a culture in which all employees are responsible, empowered, and accountable for ensuring a safe and healthy workplace. Not one of us alone can accomplish as much as all of us together!

 

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

First and foremost, I lead by example. I walk the walk! One’s video must match their audio. People don’t always hear what you say, but they most certainly always see what you do. We also use some of the proven methods of communicating safety such as quarterly command and employee safety councils, verbal/written communication, new employee orientation, position hazard analysis, activity hazard analysis, and weekly and monthly safety meetings. We ensure our employees know and understand the hazards and risks associated with their jobs, tasks and activities, and are properly trained on their mission requirements. The CE-SOHMS has had the biggest impact by engaging the entire workforce and keeping safety at the forefront of all our operations.

The USACE Safety and Health Manual (EM 385-1-1) has been the gold standard for the United States since it was first published in 1941, a full 30 years prior to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. The federal acquisition regulation directs that our manual be used for all military construction. Over the years, it has become the flagship for other federal agencies such as the Navy, NASA and Air Force, to name a few. It is also used by many other countries and translated into many different languages. Our safety manual is a source of pride for our employees who strive every day to set a positive example, accomplish tough missions safely and ensure USACE projects are the safest in the engineering industry. I am very proud of the safety culture within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

 

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

We track both leading and lagging indicators. We certainly appreciate that methods of performance can predict methods of effectiveness. From a strategic perspective, we track the implementation of our Safety and Occupational Health Strategic Plan and our USACE Campaign Plan, and report at our quarterly governance meeting. We not only track their implementation, but also the timeliness of implementation to ensure the momentum of each initiative is maintained. From an operational and execution perspective, we track traditional leading indicators such as inspection rates, training completion, policy documents currency, appropriate resource allocation and timeliness of hazard abatement, among other key performance indicators.

I feel that implementation of our safety management system is the No. 1 leading indicator because of what it brings along with it. Included in this one metric are a number of worksites inspected (safety) and characterized (industrial hygiene), safety embedded into employee performance metrics, at least three meaningful ways employees are directly engaged with safety, near-miss reporting, trend analysis of reported injuries, tracking of employee safety training, SOH councils implemented at all levels for leadership to develop strategic goals and be able to redirect appropriate resources, and a number of other criteria that assists in integrating this into our agency’s culture.

We know that this journey is going to take some time to truly integrate into our organization, which is why we deconstructed the system into three separate stages – each one lasts a minimum of 12 months and models the “plan-do-check-act” framework. I have been impressed with the improvements toward safety within our organization since its implementation.

The area I see with the most opportunity for improvement is our ability to collect safety data for analysis. We currently collect information in separate systems, and aggregating that information can sometimes be a challenge. We are developing one central information technology system for collecting and storing data resulting from the activities inherent in our safety programs. This will facilitate improved root cause analysis and better informed decision-making.

 

What role does off-the-job safety play in USACE’s overall safety program? What types of off-the-job safety and health programs do you offer?

Off-the-job safety plays a critical part in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ overall safety program because safe employees at home create safe employees at work. We use a critical incident stress management (CISM) program that focuses on resiliency, peer support, family support, and wellness that bridges the gap between crisis and the employee assistance program. This results in employees who are safe and well prepared for success in the workplace. We assign employees at every level of the organization to manage the CISM program.

The Corps of Engineers operates the most robust water recreation safety program in the nation – more Americans visit USACE recreation areas than those of the National Park Service. When families come to recreate at our lake and river projects, our park rangers introduce them to a broad spectrum of program areas that range from the children level through the adult level. It encompasses the full range of day use, overnight (camping), swimming, boating, fishing, etc. The Corps districts have a number of different mascots (costumes worn by park rangers) that become the “brand” for that regional area. We appear at county fairs and parades, put on water safety classes at schools, and become an overall member of the communities where our operating project exist. I am extremely proud of our effort that has paid big dividends. Our strong relationship with the National Water Safety Congress helps spread this message nationwide.

 



2019 CEOs Who Get it
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Michael K. Vanover

Michael K. Vanover

President and CEO
Clean Fuels National
Keystone, IN


Accomplishments

  • Noticed that a safety program was needed within his small business and immediately instituted it. Implemented the suggestions of the safety program to standard operating procedures, risks assessments and safety management plan.
  • Motivates others to be safe and cares about employees as though they are family.
  • Personally involved in any safety issue that is not taken care of with haste.
  • Checks on the safety program weekly for updates and inquires about issues or roadblocks that have presented themselves.

Clean Fuels National, with its 85 employees, is the largest fuel tank cleaning company in the nation.

 

Why is safety a core value at your organization?

This is our family. We want everyone to go home at the end of their job duties healthy and safe. Fines and penalties are not even a concern. Human life matters above all.

 

Describe your personal journey to becoming a CEO who “gets it.” What experiences or lessons brought you to where you are now?

My personal core values and principles are what brought me to where I am. My experiences and lessons are varied and expansive. It is impossible for me to point out any singular experience or lesson.

 

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

We have the same obstacles as everyone else: human cooperation. It’s difficult to get everyone to participate at the level we, as management, feel necessary. We overcome this through training and incentives.

 

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

We do our best to empower our people and show them they matter. We tell them their families matter and their safety matters. We constantly remind them of our procedures and dedicate safety-minded individuals to verify our safety procedures are followed.

 

How does your organization measure safety?

Noticeable reduction in near misses and injury. Employees actively taking ownership of the safety program.

 

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

Positive safety audits. No near misses or injuries. Third-party safety audits by customers at our request. I always feel there is room for improvement because nothing is perfect. We will continue to stay diligent and willing to evolve.

 

What role does off-the-job safety play in your organization’s overall safety program?

Poor driving records outside of our company will exclude you from driving. Take good care of your health. Reminders to apply good sense of safety practices at home.

 

What types of off-the-job safety and health programs does your organization offer to employees?

We never ask anyone to come to work injured or unhealthy. We pay people while they are injured or sick up until they come back to work. We also pay a large portion of our employees’ health insurance policies.