Humbled. That’s the one word all three recipients of our Safety Icon used to describe their feelings when told they had won the award this year. The Icon is given to individuals who—through actions and/or influence—have made significant contributions to the safety industry. Individually, this year’s winners are a CEO, a COO and a Facilitator. Together, they have some outstanding advice on how you can become a safety icon at your own workplace.
What concepts drive your safety decisons at work?
Lance Bospflug, COO, PHI Inc. (Lafayette, LA): For me, the principle of chronic unease is alive and well. This inspires me to keep driving, to keep seeking and to keep learning.
Mike Harris, Facilitator for Process, DSM Dyneema LLC (Greenville, NC): There is a quote by Steve Maraboli that for me sums up how I feel about safety. It is:
Forget yesterday - it has already forgotten you.
Don't sweat tomorrow - you haven't met.
Instead, open your eyes and your heart
To a truly precious gift - today.
Craig Morrison, CEO, Hexion Inc. (Columbus, OH): I think when you talk about safety it's frequently spoken about in numbers. To me though, the real thing is it's about people. It's about the impact on people. Numbers simply represent the risk. And if all you talk about is numbers, I think you miss a key message: it's about the people.
Was there an event in your life that has focused you on workplace safety?
Lance Bospflug: One of the earliest [influences in my life] was watching how my father, who was a plant manager, deal with people. He really cared about his employees and their families. So, for me, caring and safety went hand in hand from an early age.
Mike Harris: On December 27th of last year, I was reminded how quickly exposures can put people at risk when I received a call that my brother-in-law had been injured while he was at work. Thirty minutes into his shift he had a forklift run over his foot, when my wife and I arrived at the hospital I asked him if he or his coworkers were in a hurry and he said no. We all know rushing can cause incidents to happen. The root cause of his injury was lack of "Eyes on Path" from the person operating the lift. Tim suffered two broken toes. He is currently recovering and still has not been able to return to work. His family and friends have been there for him and thankfully he is going to be ok.
Craig Morrison: We had a very tragic situation in China where there was a loss of life at a joint venture of ours. And the individual that lost his life, his wife had their first son two weeks later after his passing. Having children, I know the impact that has and that makes it very personal to me.
How do you keep that inspiration fresh each day on the job?
Lance Bospflug: One key is to build in regular activities, meetings etc. to keep you and your team accountable. And, when you slip, which we all do, these regularly scheduled engagements, both internal and external, help you to re-center, to re-focus. I also like to ask myself the following each day:
a. What’s on your calendar?
b. What’s in your budget?
c. What’s in your heart?
Craig Morrison: The chemical industry is an environment that demands safety be at the forefront of everything we do. We start every meeting with a safety moment. It's always the first subject in terms of reviewing performance and we always start with a personal story.
What advice would you give to the next generation of safety icons?
Lance Bospflug: Stay grounded, surround yourself with good people who share your values, organize around a good safety/management structure that can execute on plans, establish solid safety partnerships, be unapologetically passionate, strive for continuous learning and improvement, and above all, CARE.
Mike Harris: My advice would be although becoming a safety icon is an honor, do what you do for safety because you care about people not because you are looking for recognition. As Jim Spigener said last year, "Being a safety leader is noble work and anyone who has it in their heart is truly an icon for safety."
Craig Morrison: I think to become a safety icon for anybody at any level in the company it's a matter of taking personal ownership and becoming a leader around safety that you put it at the forefront. I happen to be a CEO so I have probably greater bandwidth in terms of impact and ability to send a message. But every single individual in a company can have a huge impact in their personal work area. And I'd strongly encourage them to do that: become a thought leader on wherever you happen to work within a company.