Caterpillar is a large global company and has made safety its most important responsibility. As Caterpillar’s Chairman said, “Safety is the very first thing we’re going to worry about. Your health and well being come first – period. None of the other goals matter if, in the process of achieving them, people are injured.”
Caterpillar employs some 130,000 people in more than 400 facilities around the world. This global footprint is spread across more than 180 countries and includes countless cultures. In 2003, the Caterpillar global Recordable Injury Frequency (RIF) was 6.22; way too high for the leadership values and so the board of directors set the year 2020 RIF goal at 0.6. A strong push with level one (reacting to regulation condition type of issues) and level two (reacting to observable weaknesses) tools was launched worldwide. This effort brought the RIF down to 1.17 by 2009 and then to 1.02 in 2012. As a result of this strategy, there has been a global reduction of more than 58,000 recordable injuries from 2003 to 2014. However, the RIF plateau (2009 – 2012) at about 1.0 was particularly frustrating to corporate and local leadership, especially considering the next step down to a RIF of 0.6 represents another approximately 4,000 avoidable serious injuries.
In 2010 the decision was made to begin an in-depth safety culture strategy which would go beyond using RIF (and its related, dated tools approach) as the predominant safety indicator. The objective for this initiative is to transform the organization from one that measures undesirable injuries to one that relentlessly pursues a safety culture which lives the presence of safety. This sea change focus moved to what cannot be visibly seen; safety culture. The 2010 strategic shift had Caterpillar purchasing CoreMedia, a globally recognized safety culture company, then carefully testing and integrating its safety culture models and methods at facility and dealer locations. As a result the RIF plateau has experienced a break through; for the first three months of 2015 our continually improving RIF is now at 0.64. As you visit our Caterpillar web site safety.cat.com you can find details of this journey to date and share in the learnings from Caterpillar’s strategy for moving from a reactive to a proactive safety culture worldwide. Additionally, you can also gain a personal understanding of where safety accountability fits within cultural improvement.