All too often, we read articles and hear news reports about risk management run amok: workers killed, environment despoiled, fiduciary duty ignored, residents sickened, facilities destroyed. A thousand things can go wrong and nothing happens. One thing can go wrong and lives and livelihoods are destroyed.
We don't hear often enough about things that go right: Companies that do the right thing by providing adequate resources and support, employees who take pride in performing safely, managers who listen and supervisors who go out of their way to mentor and train. The fact of the matter is, there's more right in the workplace than there is wrong. The wrong just makes for a better headline.
That's why the staff of EHS Today and the sponsors of America's Safest Companies — MCR Safety and PureSafety — are thrilled to tell you about eight companies that come close to perfect when it comes to occupational safety and health, environmental management and employee wellness. AMEC Earth & Environmental Inc., the Concrete Pipe Division of CEMEX, Medtronic Inc., Morin Actuator, RQ Construction Inc., Trendmaker Homes, Trihydro Corp. and Wood Group Power Plant Services provide a safe working environment for tens of thousands of employees, protect the environment and act as advocates for health and safety.
Every year it becomes tougher to choose America's Safest Companies, not because we're running out of choices, but because we have too many excellent choices!
Last year, we responded to that challenge by anointing 18 deserving companies. This year, we responded by toughening our criteria. Achieving an injury and illness rate of zero wasn't enough to put a company on our list this year, neither were achievements such as governors' and National Safety Council safety awards, Star status in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program, recognition from EPA or — even — being on a previous list of America's Safest Companies.
When we sat down to review the applications for 2009, judges' comments about the winning companies included “That's what I'm talking about!” “Practically perfect!” “Over the top” and “Great program. Visionary thinking.”
The basic criteria to be considered one of America's Safest Companies includes demonstrated support from management and employee involvement; innovative solutions to safety challenges; injury and illness rates lower than the average for their industries; comprehensive training programs; evidence that prevention of incidents is the cornerstone of the safety process; good communication about the value of safety; and a way to substantiate the benefits of the safety process. We were amazed at the quality of the applications we received this year. We had tough choices to make and the list for 2009 includes companies that go beyond goals of zero injuries or OSHA compliance. For these companies, having an injury-free year is expected, going beyond OSHA compliance is a given and devoting resources to environmental management and employee health and wellness is a necessary part of doing business.