Execs say health, safety programs offer competitive advantages
Top executives from different industries discussed the importance of maintaining injury-free workplaces at the American Society of Safety Engineers' recent annual Professional Development Conference and Exposition in Baltimore.
"Safety impacts every part of business, and businesses need to keep proactively challenging themselves when it comes to safety," said Kathleen Shanahan, CEO of WRScompass, a Tampa, Fla.-based company with more than 600 employees. "See what your competitors are doing for instance, keep learning and educating yourselves. Be proactive and preventive."
Bill Ermatinger, vice president of human resources and administration at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va., said safety must become an essential part of a company's culture. However, he is concerned about the impact the aging workforce will have on employers' safety efforts.
"The demographics are what concern me," Ermatinger said. "Fifty percent of our employees will be retiring soon, which means much of our safety culture and experience will walk out the door. We need to continue to nurture that safety culture so that as new employees come in they will embrace it and continue to see the value in effective work safety programs."
Shanahan said safety and ergonomics professionals must become part of the key management team to continue to drive effective initiatives.
"Try something new," she said. "Communicate with your boss, such as sending them three or four key facts on safety and why they would make a difference each week, or develop a monthly letter to the CEO providing updates on safety and health, the programs and more."
Ermatinger said knowing the business and becoming a strategic partner is key.
"Step out of your lane, go find the capital group, offer suggestions to improve safety through design or contact the health care planning group, let them know how if they invest in ergonomic programs they can reduce their health costs," he said.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
August 23, 2010
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