I Challenge You

April 1, 2009
To apply for America's Safest Companies

Over 100 companies have been honored as America's Safest Companies. Although they vary in industry, size, hazards and location, they all have a couple of things in common: An understanding and appreciation for the value of safety and a fierce pride in what they do.

It's difficult to place a value on safety. How do you determine the value of something — an incident that injures employees or destroys property — that didn't happen? How do you place a value on a near-miss? On an employee mopping up a spill that could have caused a slip and fall incident? On a fire that didn't occur? On an eye injury that didn't happen?

Through communication, trending, auditing and assessment of the value of deliverables, the work force at America's Safest Companies — from the board level to the newest hire — accept and embrace safety as a corporate value.

America's Safest Companies don't just support safety because “it's the right thing to do.” They support it because it's good for business — lower healthcare costs, production costs, training costs — and because it's good for morale. Companies that have solid safety programs have an easier time “proving” to employees that they are valued. It's really a no-brainer: “‘You care that I'm healthy and injury-free' translates to ‘you care about me.'”

One of the things I've learned from speaking to literally hundreds of safety professionals about America's Safest is that companies with excellent safety and environmental management programs have — in addition to the obvious things such as lower injury rates and workers' compensation costs — much lower overall health care costs. They have lower turnover rates and fewer “sick” days. They tend to have significantly more employee involvement, not only in safety, but in other company-sponsored events and programs as well.

They have another thing in common: Employees are proud to be associated with those companies and it shows in their attitudes about their employer and their work. While you can put a value on what it costs to replace an employee who has left because of an injury or because he or she was disgruntled with the job or employer, it's difficult to place a price on the value on pride. But we know it is valuable.

Pride is a grizzled, 40-year veteran of a company who wipes away tears as he receives an award for millions of hours driven without an accident. Pride is employees who give up their vacation time to help a sick coworker get back on his or her feet. Pride is employees who look forward to “Take Your Kid to Work” day every year because they are proud to show their children where they work. Pride is looking forward to coming to work each day, even in the bad times. Pride is employees who feel comfortable teasing their CEO, or asking him about decisions related to safety. Pride is an employer who has t-shirts printed up for every employee indicating they work at one of America's Safest Companies, and the employees actually wearing the t-shirts.

I've always been proud to be associated with America's Safest Companies. I believe the companies that receive the award are proud of their accomplishment. It never fails: the more I learn about the companies named as America's Safest, the more proud I am of how they conduct business.

If you think you work for one of America's Safest Companies, please read the application on our Web site (http://ehstoday.com/safety/asc/questionnaire). Should you decide to enter, applications are due July 15.

Send an email with your thoughts to [email protected].

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