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PDecember 13, 2010

Can Safety Get Us to Our 200th Bday?

I’ll begin this blog by asking, “Now that we are over 100 years old, how do we get to 200?” My suggestion…look to the 200-year-old companies! Today’s post is about their lesson to us on safety.

With all that changes in society, one thing remains the same – concern for our family of fellow workers. But when our company started in 1908, the world accepted a safety standard that was radically different than it is today. Families loved their working fathers in 1908, companies valued their employees in 1908, but the social norms access to technologies and information were very different. If we are going to be 200 years old some day, we should take a look at what our “elders” have taught us on this topic.

In 1908, DuPont was primarily an explosives company. During the era when EDiS was established, smokeless powder and dynamite production had begun. I still have the badges that my grandfather wore when he walked on the sites of DuPont’s powder operations. This era was a dangerous one. In 1907, 30 were killed and 800 left homeless in a powder blast in Fontanet, IN. The entire village destroyed. Did the company have a safety policy? Indeed they did. The program, which dated back to 1802, stressed accountability. Senior leaders or DuPont family members were to be the first ones to personally start up a new mill. But in light of 1907, the company restructured and in 1915 began an entire Safety Division. And in the rest is history. For the next ten decades, DuPont has continually upped their game and set the standard in the industry. And along the way, has brought our industry, as vendors, along with them.

The result? For DuPont, safety (though consulting and products) now contributes 11% of their revenue. They see safety not as an expense, but as an income stream. The result for EDiS is that we now have someone to emulate.

How do we get to be 200? Many ways. But one constant must be our relentless care for our family of fellow workers.


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