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SLC 2017: Safety Challenges in the Food Industry

Sodexo's safety journey aims to improve the quality of life for its workers.

Brigette Philpot, has been personally been impacted from a safety incident. One day while changing a light bulb, her father fell off a ladder, fatally injuring him.

The vice president of Sodexo’s North American health and safety operations told attendees at the 2017 Safety Leadership Conference in Atlanta about how she is reminded of her father in her role.

“Everyone agrees that safety is important, but there is still a lot of progress to achieving a zero-harm mindset,” she said.

A strong safety culture helps drive new habits by recognizing safety preventative actions and a strong management culture. At Sodexo, all safety directives play directly into the companywide slogan, “Always chose and rewarded for making every day a better day.”

This slogan is part of an initiative called Ambition 2025. The goal, Philpot explained, is to:

  • Improve the quality of life of Sodexo employees
  • Implement the new organization
  • Develop and sell offers that improve consumers’ quality of life and clients’ performance
  • Reduce our cost to deliver to boost competitiveness and invest in future growth
  • Increase value through innovation

For safety, this means working in systematic changes.

“It is all about human factor and changing habits at all company levels because we strongly believe that every accident can be prevented,” Philpot told attendees.

There are critical factors that drive cultural change. It is less about work activities, strategies and initiatives, and more about the behaviors display in their day-to-day work and their interactions.

If culture becomes a priority, then leaders can be more open in the questions they ask their workers in day-to-day work and shape a zero-harm mindset.

“We need to help people understand how their personal behaviors contribute to the culture and we need to assist them with the confidence, language and skills to collectively fight for a better culture,” she said. “This does not absolve responsibility of leaders for the culture – but it shares the load.”

The number one thing to remember is the P and Ls of safety. Although many people automatically think of profit and loss, that is not what the letters signify, Philpot said. It is the people and lives that need to be considered each and every day.

Philpot focused on four main health, safety and environment objectives Sodexo workers and leaders strive to achieve:

A culture built around a zero harm mindset - An absolute leadership and frontline commitment to HSE founded on the fact that accidents are preventable.

Integrate health, safety and environment into everything we do - How Sodexo recruits, buys, sells and operates. HSE is part of all daily activities.

Risk-based - Identify hazards and invest in the required technical skills and training to manage the risks to prevent accidents.

A common approach to health, safety and environment and sharing of best practices - A single, global, health, safety and environment framework and standards adapted for local regulations.

This works into the Sodexo SoSafe Journey, or the process of integrating safety into all aspects of the company and making sure all workers go home safe.

“When you get weary, remember the P and L of safety culture,” she said. “Remember it’s not profit and loss.”

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