CEO Jim Hannan, shown here speaking at an employee safety event, will be a featured speaker at the 2012 Georgia-Pacific Global Health & Safety Conference in March.

Connecting Safety Knowledge and Ideas From Around the Globe

At this month's Global Health and Safety Conference, safety professionals from most of Georgia-Pacific's 300 global locations will hear speakers and participate in workshops designed to share knowledge and ideas on improving safety performance.

When several hundred safety and operations leaders from Georgia-Pacific operations around the world gather in Atlanta for the company's annual Global Health and Safety Conference this month, they will have their minds set on the same destination: safety excellence and an incident-free workplace.

"Everyone at this conference understands that our vision is to create long-term value by striving for safety and health excellence while achieving an injury-free workplace," says Dusty Ferrell, vice president-global health and safety for the Atlanta-based maker of consumer and forest products. "We believe excellence in safety, along with excellence in environmental and compliance performance, must be present for a business to exist long-term.

"We believe that we are on a journey toward safety excellence that takes the commitment of every employee, but the safety and operations leaders we bring together at this conference have a critical role to play in achieving that goal," he adds.

During the three-day conference, safety professionals from most of the company's 300 global locations hear speakers and participate in workshops designed to share knowledge and ideas on improving safety performance with the aim of giving each professional new insight that they can apply back at their location. The speakers -– starting with Georgia-Pacific CEO and President Jim Hannan -– will cover different subjects, of course, but all will focus on helping the safety professionals make new connections on how they can personally contribute to safety innovations and champion safety innovations when they return to their workplaces. The topics scheduled to be covered include contractor safety management and strategies for watching lagging safety indicators (things such as OSHA incident rates) but increasingly focus on improving leading indicators (such as reporting near misses and analyzing risks up front).

A special guest at this year's conference will be Janet Froetscher, president of the National Safety Council, who will be on hand to speak about greater employee awareness of personal risks away from work and will formally present Hannan with an NSC "CEO's Who Get It" Award. The full list of 2012 winners is here.

Ferrell says the conference, now in its fourth year, is an important tool for keeping the safety and operations organizations aligned around the company's safety vision and direction. He says the conference and other tactics to keep the safety organization aligned and focused are part of the reason Georgia-Pacific has achieved four years of record-low OIR rates in each successive year.

New to this year's conference is an initiative on blending traditional thinking about workplace safety with the company's emphasis on wellness. "We plan to increase education on safety risks away from work into our safety programs," says Ferrell. "For example, many of our facilities and employees voluntarily participate in SAFESTART programs to focus on safe conditions at work, home, and the road. Another approach is our wellness program, called 'Get Well Stay Well,' which encourages healthy lifestyle choices for our employees and their families."

In the end, Ferrell says the conference is just one opportunity each year for those who help drive safety initiatives in each operating facility to gather and share new insights, which ultimately benefits all facilities. "We are making a transition from talking about safety as a priority (because priorities can change over time) and instead thinking of it as a shared value," Ferrell says. "Coming together like this each year to develop ideas and relationships is important to achieving our vision of safety excellence and embracing safety as shared value across our organization."

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