Safety + You = Zero Harm

By: Brigette Philpot
Jun 23, 2017 1:45 PM ET

Brigette is responsible for leading the North American Safety Team to drive our Zero Harm culture and improve the Quality of Life of our employees, clients and customers by keeping them safe.

As we begin our celebration for National Safety Month in June, I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on creating a workplace where safety comes first.

Let’s start by taking a look at the most common kinds of injuries in the workplace. According to the National Safety Council, the top causes of injury in American workplaces last year were:

  • Over-exertion and bodily reaction, which includes injuries related to pulling, lifting, pushing, holding, carrying, and throwing activities at work, caused over 312,000 injuries last year. Most of those—34 percent—resulted from lifting and lowering.
  • Falls, slips, and trips accounted for nearly 250,000 workplace injuries. This category includes falls on wet and slippery floors or trips over something lying on the floor.
  • Cuts caused nearly 85,000 injuries last year, or 9.3 percent of all injuries in the private sector/all industries.
  • Burns accounted for over 15,000 workplace injuries last year, or 1.7 percent of injuries in the private sector/all industries.

When you look at the list above, the most important thing to recognize is that all of these injuries were preventable. Every single one.

I have had the unfortunate experience of losing someone in a safety-related accident that was preventable. I have a passion for keeping everyone safe. I know that the key to preventing accidents like this is to create a total safety culture, in which every part of the day is infused with a focus on safety.

Start with a safety checklist that employees should use before every single task. At Sodexo, we require all employees to ask the following three questions before beginning any task (you can use these questions at home too):

  1. Do I know how to do the job?
  2. Do I have the right equipment?
  3. Is my environment safe?

If the answer is no to any of these questions, speak up to play an active role in preventing incidents and/or causing harm to yourself or others around you.

A check list is the core of a good safety program, but you need to go beyond this to reinforce safety practices throughout the day. In the heat of a hectic work day, it’s easy for employees to forget about safety and rush through a task. A better strategy is to find multiple times a day to talk about safety and keep it top-of mind. For example, at Sodexo we begin every single meeting with what we call a “Safety Moment,” in which the presenter selects a safety topic meaningful to them and facilitates a five-minute discussion about it. It sets the tone for the meeting—that nothing is more important than the safety of our employees and our customers.

At the same time, we run multiple safety campaigns year-round to make sure our employees remember that safety is our top priority. For example, last year, Sodexo launched a global Have A Safe Day campaign to drive safety culture and change behaviors. In the fall of 2016 we celebrated Zero October, and asked all employees to make a personal commitment to their safety and the safety of those around them, whether at work, at home or in between. Now Sodexo is taking it to the next level with a new Safety Campaign called 3-2-1 ZERO, which focuses on the top causes of injury in the workplace that I listed above.

At Sodexo, our mission is to improve Quality of Life for the people we serve: our employees, customers and clients one of the ways we do this is by keeping everyone safe at all times.

What are you doing to create a total safety culture at work, at home and in-between?