Safety can transform an entire company, dramatically improving culture, quality, productivity, communication and profits. CEOs and business leaders who understand this and focus on safety achieve some of the greatest business success. This is a well-documented pattern noted by financial and safety experts alike with the NSC even featuring “CEOs Who Get It” annually in their Safety+Health publication.
One of the greatest examples of this was documented in Chapter 4 of Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit. The author describes in detail how former CEO, Paul O’Neill, focused on safety to transform Alcoa’s entire business and culture—lowering costs, increasing sales, quality and productivity. O’Neill found something everyone could agree on—worker safety—and harnessed that as a basis for change. As a result, their sales rose from $1.5 billion in 1987 to $23 billion in 2000 when he retired1. Safety has remained at the core of Alcoa’s business ever since and Alcoa has remained one of our best SafeStart clients for over 10 years.
Noting the importance of this safety success story, Charles Duhigg has given us permission to excerpt and share this story with safety professionals to help more CEOs understand the full benefit of a safety-driven company culture. We titled the excerpt The Power of Safety and made it available for download. We also recommend reading The Power of Habit to better understand the forming and changing of safety-related habits.