How to Submit a Standout America’s Safest Companies Application

June 21, 2011
Last week, I traveled to Peoria, Ill., to visit the Caterpillar Inc. headquarters and learn more about the company’s EHS programs. Only a few minutes into the meeting, it was clear to me that the company took safety seriously at every level. This type of reaction – it’s almost instinctive – to an organization’s safety culture or philosophy is exactly what I look for when I review America’s Safest Companies applications.

At Caterpillar, our morning meeting opened with a safety briefing. The company leaders in the room covered emergency information such as how and where to call 9-1-1; the closest exits; how we’d evacuate if necessary; the location of AEDs; which employees in the room are trained to give CPR or administer an AED; and more.

This thorough safety review wasn’t just for my benefit, either. Meetings of all levels at the company open with the same briefing, whether the meeting is a small gathering or is held in an auditorium and being led by a company vice president. In the past, if a safety briefing didn’t immediately occur at the beginning of the meeting, employees have even spoken up and asked for it.

“It’s become an expectation,” said Bryan Boyd, EHS professional IV, of this briefing routine.

That attention and dedication to safety is just part of what the EHS Today editors look for when we review America’s Safest Companies (ASC) applications. America's Safest Companies, founded in 2002, is a corporate award honoring the safest companies in the United States. The 2011 deadline for applications is July 15.

Application Hints and Tips

Since the ASC deadline is fast approaching, I’ll offer a few tips to help give you an idea of what makes a strong application (and what doesn’t):

  • First, make sure you qualify. If your company was named an America’s Safest Companies winner in the past, you must wait 5 years before reapplying. You also may not submit an application for only one site or company division – this award is for the entire company. Finally, while leading indicators are also considered, if your injury rates are above industry average, it’s extremely unlikely that your application will make the cut.
  • We like to see a strong and/or unique safety philosophy. Be sure to demonstrate your company’s outlook or commitment to safety. Simply writing, “We are committed to safety” won’t suffice. We want to truly understand what sets your EHS program apart.
  • Provide all the information we request. That includes your company’s injury rates as compared to the industry average. If for some reason you are unable to provide requested information, provide a detailed explanation.
  • Don’t phone it in. If an application arrives with one-word answers filled out sloppily in pencil, or states outright that the applicant is only applying because “my boss told me to,” then your chances aren’t going to be so great. On the other hand, a slick application with box after box of supporting materials won’t guarantee a win. We consider every aspect of the application and can’t be swayed by fancy materials alone.
  • The application is king. If you do send an entire pallet of brochures, booklets, videos, etc., guess what we look at first? The application itself. Always. Supplementary materials can be nice and can provide a deeper understanding of the company’s safety culture, but the application comes first. Don’t neglect that in favor of the extras.
  • It’s about quality, not quantity. Every year, we choose winners who simply typed responses of a few paragraphs per question as well as companies that submitted various folders of information. While you are free to submit additional materials, you can probably pass on shipping a huge box of information.
  • Large or small, you have a chance. Some of our past winners have been large, international companies with vast EHS resources, but don’t let that intimidate you. We’ve also chosen winning companies with only 30 employees and one full-time safety professional. Again, quality over quantity.
  • Lack of prior awards is never a deal breaker. We do ask if your company has won other health, safety or environmental awards, but don’t worry if you haven’t won anything in the past. Other awards can sometimes help flesh out our view of your company, but they are not necessary.
  • Applications generally reveal the attitudes of those who are submitting. More often than not, sincerity will shine through in an application. Just remember to be as honest and thorough as possible.
  • If you don’t win this year, don’t feel too discouraged. We can’t select every company as a winner, and you are always welcome to reapply next year.

Good luck to all applicants!

To learn more about America’s Safest Companies, visit Click here to access the application. The application process is free and the deadline is July 15.

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