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research report

R-1334-03-RR

Driving Toward “0”
Best Practices in Corporate Safety and Health

how leading companies develop safety cultures

The Conference Board creates and disseminates knowledge about management and the marketplace to help businesses strengthen their performance and better serve society. Working as a global, independent membership organization in the public interest, we conduct research, convene conferences, make forecasts, assess trends, publish information and analysis, and bring executives together to learn from one another. The Conference Board is a not-for-profit organization and holds 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status in the United States.

About this report This research report is a direct response to requests by members of the Conference Board’s Townley Center for Environment, Health, and Safety Councils—a long-established networking group of senior EH&S executives from approximately 65 leading US companies—for a benchmark on corporate safety culture and a rating of the policies and best practices that affect corporate safety performance. The project was funded by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). To achieve consistency in survey responses, The Conference Board collected information on best practices in consultation with several member companies. The Board then circulated selected examples from one company to several others for feedback and recommendations and this process led to the creation of a core list of best practices. In February 2003, The Conference Board invited senior safety executives of major corporations—including both members and non-members of the Board—to participate in a survey about these practices. Respondents were asked to:

approximately 13 percent of the respondents. For the most part, the respondents’ qualitative responses reinforce and underscore the ratings for the practices. Case studies of four companies’ safety and health programs provide further insights.

About the authors Meredith Armstrong Whiting has served as a Senior Research Fellow of The Conference Board since 1987. She authors research on topics relating to public policy, environmental issues, and corporate citizenship, and organized the Board’s first council for chief environmental, health, and safety executives. Charles J. Bennett, a Senior Research Associate at The Conference Board, is associated with the Global Corporate Citizenship Research Group and the Townley Global Management Center for Environment, Health, and Safety. Prior to joining the Board in 2001, Dr. Bennett was a corporate environmental and safety executive.

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indicate whether or not they “used” each of the practices in their safety and health program; rate their effectiveness on a scale of 1 (not effective at all) to 10 (extremely effective); describe other best practices that they use in their companies; and tell us which single best practice they believe is most effective in their programs.

Acknowledgments The Conference Board gratefully acknowledges OSHA for its support of this research, and wishes to thank the safety and health executives from Alcoa, American Express, Baxter International, Eastman Kodak, ExxonMobil, and Motorola who shared their companies’ experience and valuable insights on safety and health management. The authors thank the following Conference Board staff for their valuable contributions to the publication of this report: Henry Silvert, Zashiana Garcia, and John Lumea.

This approach was used to develop profiles of the 23 best practices identified during the iterative process with member companies as well as additional insights from many of the 68 respondents, primarily from industrial goods and consumer products manufacturers; service companies represented

Timothy Dennison editor Peter Drubin design Pam Seenaraine production

Driving Toward “0”
Best Practices in Corporate Safety and Health
by Meredith Armstrong Whiting and Charles J. Bennett, Ph.D....
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