When an aerospace company set its sights on becoming a world-class safety leader, it turned to Zurich’s Risk Engineering team to be trusted advisers along the journey.
Complying with minimum regulatory requirements, such as those from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), wasn’t all the company’s global director of environment, health and safety (EHS) had in mind. He wanted to elevate the company’s EHS management program to exemplary status, preventing workplace injuries and accidents that take a heavy toll on people, organizations and the economy.
Slips, trips and falls, soft tissue injuries and other occupational injuries, illnesses and accidents contribute not only to absences, but also early retirements and rising insurance premiums:
- Approximately 3.5 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2017; private industry employers alone reported 2.8 million.1
- Of the 3.5 million cases, 1.1 million involved days away from work.2
- Globally, the losses related to such incidents are estimated at 3.94 percent of global gross domestic product each year.3
The company’s global EHS director knew the EHS program would need to be strongly evidence-based, sustainable and measurable in order to inspire commitment from entry-level staff to senior leadership. He also knew Zurich’s Risk Engineers, who assist employers ranging from Fortune 500 enterprises to middle market companies, had the knowledge, experience and data to help the company reach its destination.
Zurich’s Risk Engineers started by conducting a collaborative world-class safety workshop to outline best practices that Zurich policy and claims data have shown can enhance workers’ safety and help reduce losses. By guiding brainstorming sessions and sharing observations from years in the field, Zurich’s Risk Engineers helped the company plot a five-year course to optimize its EHS systems, processes and tools.
Zurich and the company’s EHS leadership agreed that the organization should transition to what is known as ISO 45001 standards, rooted in robust risk assessment and developed by an international committee of occupational health and safety experts. Zurich and the company agreed on a “Plan-Do-Check-Act” framework to help the organization embed best practices in its daily work.
Together, Zurich and the company’s EHS leadership arrived on key strategies and tactics. Here are some elements incorporated into the overall plan:
To adopt a “safety-on-the-floor” mentality, they suggested changing the reporting hierarchy for certain EHS employees from the location general manager to the director of global EHS, for an interim launch period. This would ensure EHS employees’ input would be represented in the design of processes and measurement. These employees, in turn, would be vested in implementing the safety processes on the floor. Benchmarking studies have shown that when safety personnel are visible on the floor, safety response times and actions taken improve considerably.
- Zurich Risk Engineers also helped the company fine-tune its EHS job descriptions, identifying not only education, certifications and minimum years of experience, but also specific skills, including training in ergonomics and fall protection.
- To help reinforce positive safety performance, Zurich and the EHS team discussed providing incentives for risk-reducing behaviors, such as credits for performing well on EHS metrics tracking.
- Listening to all stakeholders became a priority. Zurich and the EHS team designed a series of feedback loops to disseminate information and ensure that any safety concerns and suggestions from employees, management, vendors and contractors would be heard and addressed in a timely manner.
- They established what safety indicators they should monitor and how to measure them. In the “leading indicators” bucket, their recommendations included EHS self-assessments, job hazard analyses and on-time safety training for management/supervisory personnel and staff, as well as for external qualified vendors and contractors. Among “lagging indicators,” they recommended monitoring claim frequency rates and severity, lost work days and on-time reporting (i.e., employee to supervisor; supervisor to claims system).
“The customer is thrilled with the progress we’ve made in a short time frame,” said Anthony Zoia, a Zurich Senior Risk Engineering Consultant who is one of five Zurich Risk Engineers on the project. “The company’s global EHS director has indicated this world-class safety workshop is only the beginning of their journey and the assistance we will be providing in program/systems development and implementation moving forward. We’re honored to be their trusted adviser.”
1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Numbers of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses by industry and case types, 2017.
www.bls.gov/web/osh/summ2_00.htm. Accessed 26 Nov. 2018.
3. International Labour Organization. “Safety and health at work.” https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/safety-and-health-at-work/lang--en/index.htm. Accessed 26 Nov. 2018.