At first glance, the 2003 list of America's Safest Companies Bechtel Group Inc., Bon L Manufacturing, CF Industries Inc., CSX Transportation, DaimlerChrysler, DuPont, ExxonMobil Chemical, Haynes International Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Koppers Inc., MeadWestvaco Corp., Motorola Inc., National Gypsum, Pactiv Corp., Quincy Compressor and the Salt River Project have little in common. They cover a range of sizes, locations, industries and products.
A closer look reveals that from tiny Quincy Compressor of Bay Minette, Ala., with its 141 employees to mighty Johnson & Johnson, with 108,000 employees in 54 countries, the 2003 America's Safest Companies treat safety as a business value. Not a priority. Not a process. Not a program. A value.
"We are delighted to honor the 2003 America's Safest Companies," says Stephen G. Minter, editor of Occupational Hazards. "These organizations have demonstrated a commitment to employee safety and health that goes beyond compliance with minimum government standards. Their management has developed a culture where safety and health are important values that help shape how work is planned and carried out. As a result, these companies have benefited in both human terms and financially through reduced accident costs and improved productivity."
Many of the 2003 class of America's Safest Companies use safety as a measure of business success. "We recognize our social responsibilities and believe that effective health and safety processes can become a competitive advantage as it impacts other business metrics and enables the company to become an employer that people want to work for," says Jim Thomas, director of Health, Safety and Medical Operations, DaimlerChrysler, Auburn Hills, MI.
According to Joseph Van Houten, Ph.D., CSP, worldwide director of Planning, Process Design and Delivery, Johnson & Johnson Safety & Industrial Hygiene, New Brunswick, NJ, "Safety is a key indicator of organizational excellence. A safe plant typically has high employee morale, high productivity and minimal product defects."
Others acknowledge that business success would not be possible without a safe workplace and safe workers. James A. Buzzard, the president of MeadWestvaco, Stamford, CT, calls employees "the most important resource we have and we depend on them for the success of MeadWestvaco. Implementing the processes and systems for safety excellence, and integrating them into our everyday activities, develops safe behavior and a safe workplace for our employees."
The 16 companies honored this year as America's Safest Companies share another commonality: None of them intend to rest on their laurels. Because, as Keith Shumacher, plant manager at Quincy Compressor, says of safety: "This a race with no finish."
This year's list of America's Safest Companies was chosen based on recommendations by industry professionals, recognition by industry associations, participation in programs such as OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program, state and local awards, and Occupational Hazards' research into the occupational health and safety philosophy and programs of the company.
America's Safest Companies 2003 is sponsored by Ansell Occupational Healthcare, DNV Training Solutions and Memphis Glove. The 2003 America's Safest Companies and Safest Companies sponsors will be recognized at an event at the Hancock Tower's Signature Room in Chicago on Sept. 8, 2003.