Earlier this week, I attended the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) Executive Summit in Orange County, Calif. In addition to enjoying the beautiful resort, listening to some excellent speakers, and even spotting some dolphins and gray whales on a whale-watching trip, one of the highlights of the event was watching competitors agree on what's most important: safety.
ISEA is an association for global leaders in the design, manufacture, testing and application of protective clothing and equipment. The executives who attended this week’s summit represent the companies that provide PPE to protect workers in hazardous work environments. And yes, many of the attendees were competitors – but that didn't stop them from breaking bread over safety. As one attendee told me, "We might be competitors, but we can come together when it comes to safety."
This attitude, and the general camaraderie among the ISEA attendees, reminded me of our annual America's Safest Companies (ASC) award ceremony. Some of our winners may be competitors, but they're eager to join forces at our event to benchmark and discuss what can be done to ensure their employees' safety and health is protected.
Others may communicate their valuable safety processes and ideas with others within their industry. For example, Richard Goettle Inc., a 2011 ASC winner, shares its safety knowledge not only internally, but also within the larger foundation drilling industry.
And in an article published on EHSToday.com in February 2012, Stephen Connell, the environmental safety and health manager for Bechtel Ltd., discussed why Bechtel believes safety is worth sharing:
"We also believe that it is important to share lessons learned across the construction industry. We all share a responsibility to help drive standards up for the sake of everyone who works in the sector," he wrote.
That sense of shared responsibility is why events like our America's Safest Companies Conference and the ISEA Executive Summit are so important to the EHS profession. Because even if you're in fierce competition with the other guy, remember: When workers are safe, everyone wins.