NSC: Award Winner Puts EHS First

Montreal-based Alcan Inc., one of two winners of the 2006 Robert W. Campbell Award, has built its safety and health success on a global management system it calls EHS First.

“EHS First is Alcan’s approach to environment, health and safety,” Simon Laddychuk, Alcan’s vice president, EHS First, explained to Occupationalhazards.com at the 94th Annual National Safety Council Congress and Expo in San Diego. “EHS First is not just about a system. It’s about a mindset and an attitude. It’s about how we accept the responsibility and accountability at Alcan for improving our EHS performance across the world.”

Alcan, which employs 65,000 people in 61 countries and regions, received the award earlier this week at the 2006 National Safety Council Congress and Expo in San Diego. The international award, co-founded by the National Safety Council and Exxon Mobil Corp., recognizes companies that successfully integrate EHS management into their overall business operations.

EHS First has been the mechanism Alcan has used to achieve that kind of integration. The system integrates best practices from Alcan and third parties, as well as ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001, and spells out the company’s key EHS requirements, roles and responsibilities.

EHS First is codified in a manual and various electronic tools, Laddychuk said, and it is applied at every one of Alcan’s 400 sites across the world.

“When we acquire a new facility, for example, we have 2 years to ensure that that facility is fully compliant with EHS First,” Laddychuk said. “And we have many tools and techniques to help us do that.”

Since Alcan launched EHS first a few years ago, the company has seen some significant improvements in its environment, health and safety performance, according to Laddychuk. He noted that Alcan has reduced its recordable case rate and its lost-time injury rate by 70 percent, respectively.

“We have dramatically reduced our fatality rate,” he added. “We also have been able to reduce greenhouse gases enormously, and we’ve been able to improve our energy efficiency as well. So many indicators show us we’re on our way toward our vision” of zero EHS-related incidents.

According to the company, EHS First has delivered more than $40 million (U.S. dollars) in identified savings for Alcan.

“It certainly is the driving force behind our improved performance,” Laddychuk said.

Still, Laddychuk told Occupationalhazards.com that there’s more work to be done.

“We are continually striving to achieve new knowledge,” Laddychuk said. “It’s not something that we want to have cast in tablets of stone. It’s something that has to evolve, and as we develop new capabilities, we codify that and make sure it’s available for the organization. It’s a journey of continual improvement toward our vision of EHS excellence, and that is to be a recognized leader in environment, health and safety everywhere we operate.”

Rigorous Assessment

A panel of 40 reviewers selects the winners of the Robert W. Campbell award. The reviewers are selected by a group of international safety and health organizations, which include internationally recognized experts and leaders in business, education, safety, health and environmental fields.

The review process includes a comprehensive evaluation and site visits to finalist organizations.

The National Safety Council noted that EHS First caught the attention of the Campbell Award committee.

“One of the principles of the award is to look at companies that have been able to codify an integrated EHS management infrastructure, being able to ensure that that infrastructure complies with global standards, like ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001,” Laddychuk said. “All of Alcan’s facilities are certified to both of those specifications and standards.”

While Laddychuk said that the Campbell Award assessment was rigorous, he pointed out that “it allows you to get a lot of rich feedback.”

“In other cases, you’d have to pay a lot of money to get that kind of feedback,” he told Occupationalhazards.com. “Because it’s an outside-in view from experts across the world, and that, for us, was very valuable.”

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