How did you make the decision to apply for the Campbell Award? Was it something you attempted previously?
This is GPIC’s third attempt at the Campbell Award. Last year, we were short listed as finalists for the Award and that was a great opportunity for us to further enhance and improve GPIC’s safety, health and environment performance.
We in GPIC are firm believers that benchmarking ourselves with the best in class is fundamental for our on-going improvement and enhanced performance. We use the Campbell Award to assess how we are doing compared to others, not necessarily within our own business environment, but across the board. Therefore, our decision to apply for the Campbell Award is a strategic decision to enable us to assess and verify how our Safety, Health and Environment management system is performing and if there is new knowledge and/or opportunities for us to improve our system, we would embrace those opportunities and work on improving our system.
Did you find the Campbell Award application process helpful to your company’s progress in effectively building a safety culture?
The Campbell Award application process is very good. It provides clear and fundamental elements necessary for an effective safety, health and environment management system and also it is broad enough to allow for companies of different sizes and businesses to present their case in an equitable and creative manner.
We at GPIC participate in a number of Award schemes world-wide and the Campbell Award process ranks at the highest level in terms of clarity and focus on key safety, health and environment performance areas.
After our second participation we were able to further improve our SHE management system and practices, thanks to the extensive auditing process made by the highly qualified and experienced assessors that NSC and the Robert W. Campbell Award on-site assessors assigned to audit the company. Hence, we consider the Award is not only a recognition but also very important and effective improvement tool for SHE systems.
Having said that, the Campbell Award application remains to be challenging and fair. It requires the allocation of resources to put the Application together and more importantly, the questions tend to act as filters or screening stages where under performing organizations would find the Application to be extremely difficult to complete. Therefore, it is fair to say that the Campbell Application is both challenging and fair.
What sets your company apart in terms of a safety commitment to your employees and to your community?
We at GPIC believe that safety, health and the environment are integral parts of our culture and how we conduct business. Our commitment to our employees in terms of safety goes beyond the worksite; it is engraved in everything we do. Our commitment stems from our employees and it is owned by each and every one of us at GPIC. Our Board of Directors strives to nurture and support every safety, health and environment initiative or project that all of us as employees wish to undertake. Therefore, our commitment to our employees’ safety and health and protection of the environment is firm and surpasses anything else.
Regarding our commitment to safety, health and environment within our community, we are proud to be one of the leading organizations in Bahrain and the Middle East area that have taking the lead to ensure that these issues are brought to the forefront of our community’s attention, thus making them an integral part of the community’s thinking and day to day activities.
If you allow me to share with you how we achieve this commitment it may shed more light on what I am saying.
GPIC was the first company to start safety, health and environment lectures at schools. The aim was to ensure that Bahrain’s younger generation is educated in such issues at an early age. The results that we see are extremely positive and encouraging. Young Bahraini school children are embracing our teachings and sharing GPIC’s ideas with their parents. This is creating safety, health and environmental awareness in Bahrain and as a result, recently in Bahrain a new non-governmental entity called “Friends of the Environment” was launched by a group of young Bahrainis who are embracing our initiatives.
GPIC is also extensively involved in the community through training and qualifying members of charitable entities in first aid, fire fighting and prevention, emergency preparedness and hazard assessment at homes and leisure events.
What kind of unique challenges exist in your workplace and what specific measures do you take to ensure the safety and health of your workers and area residents?
In the fertilizer and petrochemical business and due to the potentially high risk associated with our processes, our most unique and challenging enemy is “complacency”. We operate extremely safe and reliable plants at GPIC. This is both a blessing and a challenge. It is extremely difficult to keep the enthusiasm and mindset that accidents and harm can occur at any time if we loose focus and not keep safety in our minds all the time.
We realize that complacency is our worse enemy and accordingly, we strive to continually find new measures, more innovative approaches to ensure that we are not complacent.
Through various committees, we have a number of programs in place to support us in involving all employees to take ownership and to address safety, health and environmental issues. This teamwork approach has proved to be very successful and enabled us to further enhance our work practice and achieve high records.
We introduced a Behavioral Safety Observation collection program three years ago to ensure that our people are challenged and rejuvenated to continue to take safety seriously. We ensure that the audit results, be it internal or external audit, are shared with our employees and the findings are presented to them with the aim to remind everyone that “there is always room for improvement” and that we have to strive to capture these opportunities and make use of them.
We also use the Campbell Award to remind our people that if we are complacent, others will achieve more success and a better reputation and this has worked for us immensely.
With our enthusiasm and motivated people, the positive effect on the community will be a natural consequence.
Do you find that your company’s productivity is linked to a safety commitment? Do you find it easier to attract and keep good employees because of this commitment?
There is no doubt that employees will be more committed to the organization if the organization pays due attention and diligence to safety, health and the environment. This has a direct impact on their welfare and the relationship between productivity and safety are clearly interlinked.
Our employees realize and advocate that productivity is a result of a good management system, commitment to safety, health, environment, hard work and one team spirit. Therefore, both the commitment to safety and our employees is what make us productive and successful. Not only that, but due to our philosophy of involving the employees’ families in our SHE initiatives, the families became more comfortable with their spouses, children and parents working for GPIC and they became themselves more SHE conscious members of society.
How has the upper level management succeeded in relaying the importance of safety to lower level workers throughout the organization?
As I stated earlier, our employees are our safety heroes; this has made the management’s task much easier. Nevertheless, as management, we built a very comprehensive and overlapping structure of committees and teams that are responsible to take ownership of safety, health and environment initiatives. This facilitated the ownership approach towards safety issues throughout the organization.
We also provided our employees various systems such as the suggestions system to allow our employees to improve our safety, health and environment management system. Similarly, we ensure to involve our employees in the decision making process, especially in safety, health and environment. Our programs extend to the employees’ families. We celebrate safety, health and environment in what we call SHE week and Family evening and during that week we ensure that whatever initiatives and/or programs that we would like to embark on are communicated to our employees and their families. We simply make our employees feel that the safety of their families away from the workplace is also our concern.
How do you plan to help spread a commitment to safety to other companies in your industry?
We are working extremely hard in establishing safety, health and environment as integral part of the fertilizer business world-wide.
As Chairman of the International Fertilizer Association (IFA) Technical Committee, together with the committee members, I was given the honor of organizing the first IFA Global Safety Summit in Bahrain from 14 to 18 March 2009. This event is the platform whereby the leaders of the fertilizer business will come together to reaffirm their commitment to safety, health and the environment and to embrace SHE as a strategic option for the industry.
We intend to use IFA, the Arab Fertilizer Association (AFA) and the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemical Association (GPCA) as platforms to spread the safety culture to our industry and make it safer, healthier and more equitable to the environment. We already achieved significant strides in all three areas but we are now planning to further influence our industry through the same. With the help and support of leaders of this industry we have already achieved significant strides in all three areas.