It's unfortunate that right around the time we get ready to create this list every 2 years, a horrific workplace tragedy makes headlines.
The explosion and fire at the West Fertilizer Co. in West, Texas, reminded us that not only are our facilities at risk, but the neighborhoods surrounding them as well. And a series of fires and building collapses in Bangladesh killed 1,000 workers in the past 12 months, forcing us to question the outsourcing of so much of the world's garment industry. How safe should we consider our U.S.-headquartered companies when the people manufacturing their products in other countries are dying?
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer made waves earlier this year when a leaked memo outlined the company's plans to rein in working-from-home arrangements. The policy sparked conversations surrounding the benefits and pitfalls of telecommuting at companies around the world.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie set politics aside during a polarized election season and made headlines last fall by praising the federal government's response to Hurricane Sandy, telling whoever would listen that President Barack Obama "kept every promise" that was made regarding help for the state in the wake of the storm. While his words irked members of his political party, his honesty showed him to be a man who cared only about getting help for his devastated constituents in a time of emergency.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg struck a nerve with workers struggling to find a work/life balance when she announced she works from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and gives the rest of her time to her family. Before she publicly acknowledged her commitment to a 9-5 day, she would send colleagues late night and early morning emails, so that they would assume she already was in the office at dawn or working late.
Morris Bridges, Perry Calvin, Jerry Chapman, Cody Dragoo, Joey Pustejovsky, Robert Snokhous, Doug Snokhous, Cyrus Reed and Kevin Sanders – the volunteer firefighters and emergency responders who were killed in the West Fertilizer Co. fire and explosion on April 17. Also killed were Kenneth "Luckey" Harris, Jimmy Matus, Judith Monroe, Mariano C. Saldivar, Buck Uptmor and Adolph Lander.
Terry Mathis, an internationally recognized expert in the application of safety culture and behavior-based safety strategies, founded ProAct Safety in 1993. Before founding ProAct, he was a director of training for Coca-Cola. Shawn M. Galloway, president and COO of ProAct Safety, has helped hundreds of organizations within every major industry to achieve and sustain excellence in performance and culture. Together, they authored STEPS to Safety Culture Excellence.
Dr. E. Scott Geller is a founding partner and co-owner of Safety Performance Solutions whose work focuses on cultivating an actively caring work culture in order to reduce and eliminate injuries. He is alumni distinguished professor at Virginia Tech and director of the Center for Applied Behavior Systems in the Department of Psychology. He recently published his latest book, Actively Caring for People.
Dr. Richard D. Fulwiler, CIH, CSHM, is president of Cincinnati-based Technology Leadership Associates, a consulting firm specializing in increasing individual effectiveness and building organizational capability in the health, safety and environmental arena.He previously spent 28 years working with Procter & Gamble, where he retired as the company's director of health and safety worldwide.
Kathy A. Seabrook, CSP, CMIOSH, EurOSHM, is the first person to take two places on our Top 50 list (see the association category). Seabrook is president of Global Solutions Inc., an EHS management consultancy for multinational companies, and advises the Fortune 500 on EHS and sustainability.
John Viera is global director of sustainability and vehicle environmental matters at Ford Motor Co., a position he has held since January 2007. In this role, Viera is responsible for developing global sustainable business plans and policies, interfacing with global regulatory bodies, reporting externally on the company's environmental and social performance and leading the company's engagement and partnerships with non-government organizations (NGOs) and other key stakeholders.
Fay Feeney, CSP, ARM, launched Risk for Good (R4G) in 2010, a board advisory firm that works exclusively with independent directors who want to strengthen risk oversight in the boardroom. Prior to R4G, she founded Envision Strategic Group to provide advisory services on emerging business trends that impact strategy and growth. This includes risk management, corporate social responsibility and sustainability and human capital.
Deborah McKeever is the president of EHE International and predicts dire consequences for employers if the chronic diseases suffered by their employees are not controlled and managed (or eliminated). She warns that fit-to-work adults might become an endangered species, while predicting the cost of chronic diseases to business will climb to $4.2 trillion by 2023 if steps aren't taken now to improve the health of workers.
The Government Appointees
Dr. David Michaels, Ph.D., MPH, assistant secretary of labor for Occupational Safety and Health.
Dr. John Howard, M.D., JD, is a physician, professor, attorney and public health administrator. He served a 6-year term as the director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and was appointed to be a special coordinator to respond to the health effects of the September 11 attacks. In this role, Howard advocated for rescue workers, introducing a program to provide screening, medical exams, and treatment for them. In 2009, Howard was again appointed as director of NIOSH and as World Trade Center Programs coordinator for Health and Human Services.
Thomasina V. Rogers is chairman of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, which adjudicates workplace safety and health disputes between the Department of Labor and employers. Rogers has served the second-longest tenure in the agency's 40-year history.
Rafael Moure-Eraso, MS, Ph.D., CIH, is chair of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB), an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. Unfortunately, it's been a busy couple of years for the agency.
The Association Presidents
Richard A. Pollock, CSP, is president of the American Society of Safety Engineers and president and founder of Comprehensive Loss Management Inc. (CLMI Safety Training). He will be succeeded this month by Kathy Seabrook, CSP, CMIOSH, EurOSHM.
Allan K. Fleeger, CIH, CSP, is the past president of the American Industrial Hygiene Association and industrial hygiene manager for the Americas Division of ExxonMobil Corp. Barbara J. Dawson, CIH, CSP, started her term as president of AIHA in May. She is the global OH competency leader at DuPont.
Robert F. Herrick, ScD, CIH, M.S., serves as chair of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists. He is senior lecturer on industrial hygiene at the Department of Environmental Health of Harvard School of Public Health. Immediate past-chair is Bill R. McArthur, Ph.D., CIH, who is director of the Office of Worker Safety and Health Policy, part of the Office of Health, Safety and Security at the U.S. Department of Energy.
Ronald R. Loeppke, M.D., MPH, FACOEM, is the most recent past-president of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM). He is the vice chairman of U.S. Preventive Medicine and serves as co-chair of the company's International Advisory Board.
ACOEM President Kathryn L. Mueller, M.D., MPH, FACOEM, is a professor at the School of Public Health and Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Colorado Anschutz Campus, Denver.
Pam Carter, RN, COHNS, FAAOHN, is president of the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses and EHS manager at Daikin McQuay. Jeannie Hanna, MSN, RN, COHN-S, FAAOHN, is president-elect and serves as director of integrated health and productivity at the Hershey Co.
Mike Maddox is president of the board of the Voluntary Protection Program Participants' Association, and vice president, corporate VPP, for NuStar Energy LP.
Leading EHS Professionals
Marty Buell is director, environmental, safety, health and quality, O&MS – URS. He says, "We believe that safety and productivity are directly related and that by creating a participatory management culture and by focusing on how we do work, productivity will also improve."
Brian Lewallen, director of global environmental affairs, health and safety at Caterpillar, believes companies need to focus more on creating great safety leaders. The EHS professionals at Caterpillar receive leadership training, and other organizations might do well to follow suit. After all, EHS professionals often find themselves at the table convincing company leadership of the value of a safe workplace. "Take the time to celebrate leadership and take a mindful approach that gets results," he says.
Mike Snyder is director of corporate safety, industrial hygiene and loss prevention at Dow Corning Corp. "We recognize that safety at work alone is not fulfilling our responsibility to employees," he says. "As we try to take a look at the challenges now of being an employer of choice in the 21st century, we have to really look out for and provide opportunities for total employee fulfillment and well-being."
Scott Harczynski, health, safety, environment and facilities VP for Honeywell Aerospace, says that at Honeywell, the vision is to be an "integrated business partner providing unparalleled HSE&F value and uncompromising commitment to employee health and safety and environmental stewardship." The mission is to "protect people and the environment through the capabilities of our global talent and the strength of our HSE&F Management System."
Jim Gribbins, president and founder of Gribbins Insulation, along with Vice President Brian Willett and Safety Manager Trevor Atherton, are proof that when the CEO "gets it," the business side "supports it" and the safety side "implements it," a company can achieve and maintain a culture of zero incidents. "There is absolutely no task that is so important that we might consider sacrificing safety, to even the slightest degree, in an effort to perform the task," says Gribbins.
J.A. Rodriguez Jr., CSP, is CEO of Make My Day Strategies LLC and also a senior manager of EHS at Raytheon. An avid blogger and author, he is a member of the Industry Advisory Council at Western New England University, board member of the Voluntary Protection Program Participants' Association and author of Not Intuitively Obvious – Transition to the Professional Work Environment.
Edwin G. Foulke Jr., is a partner in the Atlanta and Washington, D.C., offices of Fisher & Phillips LLP. He co-chairs the firm's Workplace Safety and Catastrophe Management Practice Group. Prior to joining Fisher & Phillips, Foulke was the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health and he chaired the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) in Washington, D.C. For more than 30 years, Ed has worked in the labor and employment area, focusing on occupational safety and health issues, workplace violence risk assessment and prevention, whistleblower protection and accident and fatality prevention.
Arthur G. Sapper is a partner in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP and is based in the firm's Washington, D.C. office. He focuses his practice on all areas of occupational safety and health (OSHA) law and mine safety and health (MSHA) law. Sapper regularly litigates before the OSHRC, the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, the federal appellate courts and various administrative bodies. He has testified several times before Congress on OSHA issues. Sapper has served as deputy general counsel of the OSHRC, and was special counsel and assistant general counsel to the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission.
Michael Taylor is a partner in the Washington, D.C. region office of Jackson Lewis LLP. He is the founder of Jackson Lewis' OSHA Forum, which consists of over 100 trade associations from a range of industries. In the last 10 years, Taylor successfully has litigated some of the most significant OSHA citations on behalf of oil, gas and chemical companies. Prior to entering private practice, he served as the general counsel of the OSHRC.
Howard Mavity is a partner in the Atlanta office of Fisher & Phillips LLP. He co-chairs the firm's Workplace Safety and Catastrophe Management Practice Group, and has managed almost 450 OSHA fatality cases in construction and general industry, ranging from dust explosions to building collapses. He has coordinated complex inspections involving multi-employer sites, corporate-wide compliance, and issues involving criminal referral. Mavity is active in rulemaking and dealings with federal and state OSHA and other agencies.
Christy Haynes, Ph.D., is principal investigator of the Haynes Research Group at the University of Minnesota. Her recent work on evaluating the toxicity of nanoparticles focuses on monitoring how exposure to nanoparticles affects a cell's ability to function normally, rather than just its ability to survive the exposure.
Jan Weisenberger, senior associate vice president for research at the Ohio State University, for helping forge a partnership between the university and Honda R&D Americas to open a $1.3 million OSU Driving Simulation Laboratory, designed to help researchers learn more about the distractions drivers face while driving and ways to prevent distraction on the road.
Celeste Monforton, a professorial lecturer in environmental and occupational health the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, authored an eye-opening brief that focused on low-wage worker injuries. The brief was released in conjunction with a white paper that reveals injuries and illness among low-wage workers cost the nation more than $39 billion in 2010.
This list would not be complete without the inclusion of the more than 1,000 workers who lost their lives in fires and collapses at factories tied to the garment industry in Bangladesh. To represent these workers, we have Garrett D. Brown, MPH, CIH, a compliance safety and health officer at Cal/OSHA, and Guy Ryder, director-general of the International Labour Organization. Beginning in 2000, Brown helped organize training with labor, women's, human rights and community-based NGOs and trade unions in Indonesia and China. Brown has been instrumental in blowing the whistle on the unsafe working conditions found in Asian factories producing goods for western consumers. Ryder sent a high-level delegation to Bangladesh that returned with a number of recommendations related to improved occupational health and safety, improved structural safety and fire safety for factories, additional workplace inspectors and retraining for workers injured in recent workplace tragedies, and called for "those responsible for the tragic events that have occurred in Bangladesh over the past 6 months" to be held accountable.