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Safety Flies to the Top at Textron

Nov. 1, 2008
At this multi-industry conglomerate, which has facilities in 34 countries, its 44,000 employees say, "Safety Starts With Me."

It's not often that you find a company that lists safety performance and activities as part of its operating principles, but that's the case at Textron Inc., headquartered in Providence.

“With the diverse nature of our business mix, the complexity of our operations and the geographical dispersion of our facilities and plants, management of the safety process is a challenge at best,” says James “Skipper” Kendrick, director of EHS training for Textron. “Textron consistently met that challenge and improved performance, thus reducing injuries and illnesses year after year.”

The brand names associated with Textron include Bell Helicopter, Cessna Aircraft, EZ-GO, Greenlee and Jacobsen. While the business mix might be diverse, as Kendrick points out, the single-minded focus on safety and dedication to environmentally sound practices and safe behaviors is consistent.

“For several years, specific performance goals relating to our environmental, health and safety management system (EHSMS) are in the personal goals of Lewis Campbell, chairman, president and CEO,” Kendrick reveals. “This performance goal has flowed down to each business unit executive.”

This dedication to safe production led to a 75 percent improvement in recordable injuries in recent years. In order to achieve top performance levels in the EHSMS, business units must engage employees through various means, including safety committees, hazard identification and correction, incident investigation and peer-to-peer training.

An example of such employee engagement are the Safety Advocates found in the company's Cessna business unit. “They are the eyes and ears for safety at the shop floor level. They are essential in communicating safety issues both up and down the organization chain,” says Kendrick.

“We believe safety is good for business. One of our operating principles best expresses this belief: ‘EHS is lead by senior management, implemented by line management, with each level accountable to the one above and responsible for the one below,’” he adds.

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About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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