PHILADELPHIA — The National Safety Council Congress and Expo kicks off in this city this week with a message to safety professionals attending the event to strive for continuous improvement.
At the opening session, National Safety Council president and CEO Janet Froetscher urged more than 3,000 safety professionals to take the opportunity to learn what they can and take whatever will work in their workplace and use it.
Some 4,000 people die in the workplace every year, said Froetscher, and the pursuit of continuous improvement in promoting safety across organization means going beyond the workplace and promoting safety in the community and homes as well.
“When you’re doing something on the job, you’re also giving them something take and use at home,” she said, adding that the factors that are causing injuries and fatalities in the workplace are the same things that are causing injuries and deaths at home. These are falls and motor vehicle crashes.
Froetscher outlined 4 key things that need to happen in the pursuit of continuous improvement: management leadership and employee engagement; safety management system; risk reduction; and, performance measurement.
She said safety professionals has done great strides in reducing motor vehicle crashes — one of the top causes of work-related injuries and deaths in the U.S — but the work continues and faces a new challenge: cell phones.
According to Froetscher, cell phone use account for 23 per cent of all crashes in the road way and organizations are now beginning to proactively address cell phone use by their employees behind the wheel.
In fact, 25 per cent of Fortune 500 companies currently implement complete ban on cell phone use by their employees while driving.
“We bear the cost of safety, whether it’s on-the-job or off-the-job, whether it’s in health care cost or lost productivity,” said Froetscher.
Delivering his keynote, bestselling author Peter Sheahan, echoed Froetscher’s message urging safety professionals to challenge their pre-conceived notions on safety management and “open your mind to the possibility of a new way” to manage safety performance.
“The number one thing that is preventing organizations from making continuous improvement is not the failure to predict the future, but rather making the wrong assumptions about the present,” Sheahan said.
He added the importance of collaboration in pursuing continuous improvement. “The concept of collaboration is not a fad,” he said, “it’s going to be a requirement of any cultural, any transformational initiative.”
The NSC Congress and Expo opening session also became a venue for presenting the winners of the organization’s safety excellence awards, including the: RW Campbell Award for UTC Fire &S Security; Green Cross for Safety Medal, which went to The Dow Chemical Company; and individual recipients of the Distinguished Service to Safety Award.
Also speaking at the opening session was DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman, who urged safety professionals to collaborate on safety ideas and initiatives.
“Safety in the 21st century is not only transformative, but it’s inclusive, and more importantly, it’s collaborative,” Kullman said.