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Safety and Sustainability are Connected at Life Technologies

Nov. 14, 2012
At Life Technologies, safety and sustainability go hand in hand.
For Life Technologies, a global life sciences company, safety and sustainability simply make sense.

"We realize that sustainability helps save money, helps us make money, and is the right thing to do for the world, the customers and, most importantly, the employees," explains Cristina Amorim, chief sustainability officer at Life Technologies. "When it comes to safety, we have a very similar approach."

Amorim, who in July was named the Sustainability Executive of the Year by the Ethical Corp., believes that safety and sustainability directly are  related. Complying with wastewater or air emissions permits, for example, might seem on the surface to be solely environmental regulation issues, but she points out that they also are public safety concerns.

"Safety is part of sustainability.  You can't be a sustainable company if you're not a safe company," she says. "To me, it's all about safety – for the employees, the customers and the public. First and foremost, we want all workers to go home each night back to their families the same way they arrived in the morning."

That commitment to safety has led to a 76 percent reduction in injuries over the last 8 years at Life Technologies. The company achieved this reduction in part through initiatives like its Roadmap to Zero Injuries, which was implemented 4 years ago, is based on six foundations: Management Commitment, Employee Involvement, Worksite Analysis, Hazard Prevention and Control, Training and Education and Audit Assurance.

According to Amorim, the company implemented the roadmap to take its already strong focus on safety and sustainability to a new level by initiating a behavioral and cultural change.  Life embarked on a full analysis on what worked, what could be improved and what could be added to its safety program. That assessment, along with employee involvement and management commitment, helped Life Technologies become the safety leader it is today.

"From the coffee room to the board room, there was commitment," Amorim says, but the company wanted to ensure this commitment was demonstrated and visible. To accomplish this, the company established monthly executive walkabouts where a C-suit executive greeted employees and recognized those doing the right thing. It's an approach that fosters positivity and rewards instead of punishes.  According to the company's America's Safest Companies application, a "culture of safety innovation and continual improvement has fostered countless, positive safety changes with profound impact on our safety performance."

Life Technologies' safety and sustainability programs are further enhanced through grassroots safety teams; safety committees; a safety reward program; near-miss reviews by the CEO and COO; the EHS Achievement Program; employee safety perception surveys conducted globally every 18 months; and even an EHS flash mob, where the global EHS staff spontaneously surprised employees in a California facility for safe behaviors.

"We didn't want safety cops," Amorim says of Life Technologies' proactive and positive approach to safety. "We wanted to develop safety leaders."

Life Technologies, Carlsbad, Calif.
Industry: Life Sciences
10,000+ employees at 86 locations
67 EHS Professionals

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