At all Dow locations globally, workers can participate in Health and Safety teams at the facility and site level. Attendance at safety meetings is an expectation, and select trainings and communications are provided and discussed for the workforce at large. At the local level, employees participate in incident root cause investigations, “fresh eyes” assessments, internal audits and numerous other continuous improvement activities. In most cases, these committees meet at least monthly with the primary purpose of reviewing and acting upon worker safety data and concerns, and developing implementation plans for new or improved government or company health and safety requirements. More than 80% of Dow workers globally are represented in joint management-worker safety committees as a result of government requirements or company union agreements.
Each standard that is part of Dow’s EH&S management system has one or more standard owners who accept continuous improvement input from any employee via the EH&S organization and through a feedback tool on the Standards web page. Improvements are evaluated and prioritized. If a global policy change is indicated, the change is presented to a global policy team for consideration and final approval. Employees are directly and actively engaged in improving local policies, procedures and safeguards (e.g., personal protective equipment selection, unsafe conditions and near-miss programs).
We provide health and safety training at no cost to workers. Training is role-based and assigned to workers when they take on a specific role (e.g., safe work permits issuer, red tag lock-out isolator). For workers who are not employees but whose work and/or workplace is controlled by Dow, access to such training is provided free of charge within the constraints of co-employment limitations. In addition to formal training, informal safety training is part of every shift, every team and every meeting across Dow. Safety moments, on-the-spot training and safety stand-downs reinforce the culture of safety and the role every employee has in supporting each other’s health and safety.
What if our team members on the frontlines led our most important safety conversations? That was the grassroots approach we took in 2020 when launching our “Flatten the Curve” interactive sessions. The virtual exchanges drew in thousands of people and contributed to a dramatic turnaround in safety performance – in effect, flattening the curve on injuries.
This unique program features members of Team Dow who work on the frontlines. These team members tell their stories, and talk about fatalities and severe injuries and how the incidents changed lives. The first session in April 2020 was attended by nearly 500 people. Each subsequent session attracted more than 1,000 people. In each segment, the chat function in the virtual meeting platform exploded with comments, experiences and best practices. With an upgrade of our virtual meeting platform in 2021, these meetings accommodate 3,000 people from around the world. After each session, a link to the recording and the transcription of the chat is sent to the nearly 4,000 people invited to the session. The results? People say they are inspired to take action and trusted to know the areas of focus to keep their own areas safe.
All employees and workers who are not employees but whose work and/or workplace is controlled by Dow are required to comply with 100% of health and safety management system requirements. We employ a comprehensive safe work permit system that facilitates a robust dialogue around hazards and mitigation of such hazards for each task.
Regular review of our health and safety management system is built in to evaluate its efficacy. Additionally, we maintain an independent internal audit process, with accountability flowing directly to our chief executive officer, independent of the Operations organization. The audit process ensures that every company location, regardless of purpose, is audited every three to five years. Audit frequency is determined based on the relative risk of the activities at each location. Auditors are trained and certified in each topic area that they evaluate. Gaps identified in these internal audits are addressed via corrective or preventive actions captured in our global corrective and preventive action repository, with gap closure encouraged within 12 months of the audit.
In addition, more than 85% of our manufacturing sites globally receive some periodic external audit. These vary broadly, depending on specific government requirements. For example, more than 85% of our large U.S. and Canada manufacturing sites participate in either OSHA Voluntary Protection Programs or Canadian Federation of Construction Safety Associations’ Certificate of Recognition program. More than 50% of external audits globally cover most topics within the Responsible Care® Code or ISO-14001.