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Susan Lewis: Dow is Committed to Environment, Health and Safety Initiatives

The Dow Chemical Company was honored this week at the 2012 Green Cross for Safety by the National Safety Council for its achievements in workplace safety, community service, environmental stewardship and responsible citizenship. In an exclusive interview, Susan Lewis, corporate director for Environment, Health & Safety Operations for the Dow Chemical Co., said that the Dow has vowed to "Drive to Zero."

And by zero, she means zero injuries, zero incidents, zero near misses, zero spills and zero waste. The "Drive to Zero" safety initiative represents an inclusive strategy with detailed execution in all phases of its operations. Dow extends its safety commitment to contractor safety performance – believing everyone working at a Dow facility deserves to go home just as safe as when they arrived.

"It doesn't make a difference whether an employee is Dow badged or a contract employee, we include their injuries in our injury statistics. We want behavior awareness for the decisions that are made, whether by Dow employees or contract employees," said Lewis.

Dow's safety management system provide tools that can be leveraged across U.S. sites and at Dow facilities in all the countries where Dow does business, or, as Lewis describes the reach of the management system: "Throughout our Dow 'country.'"

Lewis is responsible for directing EHS operations across the company through Dow's Business Services Group, an organization that leverages functional and operational services and expertise to benefit Dow's customers and joint venture partners. She said the company is in a "relentless pursuit" to reach zero, and that through what she calls "inspirational goals," has made tremendous strides.

Since 2005, Dow has reduced injuries by 84 percent and has reduced process safety incidents by 70 percent. This is significant, said Lewis, because process safety failures can be catastrophic, leading to employee injuries and deaths, damage to facilities and property and environmental releases that can be dangerous to the public and natural resources. The company also has reduced solid waste by 1.6 billion pounds, reduced water usage by 183 billion gallons and reduced energy usage by 900 trillion BTUs.

"We are constantly unsatisified [with our performance]," said Lewis. "So we look at leading indicators, such as near misses, root cause, training, at-risk employees, on boarding employees and follow-up to continue to attain those aspirational goals."

The commitment to EHS to starts at the top, said Lewis, a belief that is reinforced by the words of Dow's chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris. "Dow's long held commitment to health and safety is proudly recognized through our core foundational values of integrity, respect for people and protecting the planet," said Liveris. "Receiving the Green Cross for Safety medal honors the dedication of Dow's women and men across the globe for their exceptional and unwavering focus on making a positive and sustainable impact on our company, our communities and our world. I congratulate everyone at Dow for their steadfast commitment to safety and health."

Dow was named one of America's Safest Companies in 2002, the first year of the award program. The company also was recognized as the 2010 recipient of the Robert W. Campbell Award – safety’s most prestigious award given to an organization – for demonstrating world-class operational safety performance.

"It is a pleasure to honor Dow with the Green Cross for Safety medal," said Janet Froetscher, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “Dow’s commitment to safety excellence for both its employees and the communities in which it operates encapsulates the ideals for which the Green Cross for Safety medal was established.”

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