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Safety Management Insights

Making Workers Accountable for Safety: 3 Companies Share What Worked

Posted by Don Brown on May 27, 2015 10:00:00 AM


When it comes to safety management strategies, no two companies are exactly alike. Different workforces, job types, job sites and company incident histories require different policies for complying with OSHA regulations and keeping employees as safe as possible.

That said, there’s a lot to be learned from companies that are doing things right.

Safety is already improving in just about every sector of the labor market, but some companies have become standouts for their low incident rates and high degrees of worker safety and satisfaction. Here are three accounts of companies that have implemented successful safety strategies.

The AES Corporation

To help everyone become more accountable for their own well-being, safety needs to become just as important as good customer service and quality products. At AES, an electric company with 17,800 employees and 32,000 contractors in 20 countries, safety isn’t just one of the company’s core values—it’s the first. 

“The first consideration in all our business and operational discussions is the impact on occupational safety and health that could result from the actions under consideration,” EHS Director Laszlo Hary told EHS Today.

AES’s safety initiatives begin with the idea that business leaders themselves are accountable for their EHS performance. The company’s leaders conduct roughly 115,000 safety “walks” each year, during which they observe safety-related behaviors and talk to their employees and contractors about what can be done to create even safer work environments.

What’s more, AES makes safety adherence a requirement for employment. The company’s employees and contractors must stop work when they identify unsafe conditions, and everyone must attend monthly safety meetings. AES even brings in external teams to conduct 50 safety audits per year. They recently launched an internal program that has employees of every level completing internal audits.

Aqueos Corporation

Some of the best examples of worksite safety come not from the safest occupations, but the most hazardous. At Aqueos, a commercial diving company with a strong safety culture, EHS professionals assume that all incidents are preventable. 

“Oilfield commercial diving is a hazardous occupation, typically conducted in an unforgiving undersea environment and under difficult conditions,” said J.B. Glass, Aqueos EHS manager, in EHS Today. “It takes a dedicated team and engaged effort on the part of the dive team, supervision and onshore management to sustain incident-free operations.”

At Aqueos, employees submit peer observations of hazards, near misses and both at-risk and appropriate behaviors. These submissions are then shared in real time with all other workers. At the safety meetings that occur before each and every shift, these submissions are reviewed to spot potential problems before they occur during the day’s work. 

“Several trends recently were discovered related to open dive knives during egress, open-ended air hoses connected to a charge system and bail-out bottle improperly stowed,” said Glass. “Unabated, these conditions would eventually result in an incident…This information resulted in improved operational discipline and the prevention of an incident.”

The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, Inc.

Talk of work-related accidents might bring blue-collar job sites to mind, but laboratories can be full of corrosive chemicals, radiation, electrical hazards and more. At the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, everyone from the newest employee to the C-suite needs up-to-date safety training before entering any of the company’s facilities. 

“If anybody’s training expires, the EHS office contacts the security office to take thegir access away until their training is current,” Robert Najjar, Charles Stark Draper director of health and safety, told EHS Today.

Because the lab is a federally funded non-profit with especially strict safety guidelines, its goal isn’t just to achieve zero injuries – but zero risk of injuries. The firm is pursuing that goal by encouraging employee participation and investigating all incidents to spot trouble areas and develop more effective safety strategies. They even maintain wellness and ergonomics programs to keep their employees healthy both inside and outside the workplace.

Draper also reduces risk with a strict approach to chemicals purchases. The safety office approves each requisition for hazardous materials before the purchasing office can place its orders, and those requisitions lead to assessments involving safety personnel, managers and workers. Once the chemicals are received, they’re logged into a tracking system and delivered to specific work areas, along with the corresponding materials safety data sheets. Ultimately, this system makes it easy for Draper’s safety personnel to know exactly when and where hazardous materials are being stored.

Need some inspiration for your own safety programs? Check out this free resource, 9 Ways to Make Your Job As A Safety Manager Easier.

9 Ways to Make Your Job as a Safety Manager Easier