How this manufacturing giant built its safety program

Award winning company Siemens explains why sustainability is integral to OHS

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Speaker1: [00:00:13] Hello, I'm Maia Foulis, editor of Canadian Occupational Safety. In this episode, I'm joined by Nada Vuckovic, head of environment, health and safety and sustainability officer at Siemens Canada. Nada is joining us to talk about the company's most recent win at the 2021 Canada's Safest Employers Awards, where Siemens won the award for Best Health, Safety and Environment Management Program. So thank you once again for joining me.

Speaker2: [00:00:42] Well, thank you for having me, Maya.

Speaker1: [00:00:44] You're very welcome. So Nada, how does it feel to be one of our 2021 winners?

Speaker2: [00:00:50] Well, thank you so much. It's it feels amazing. This is a an excellent achievement by our organization, and we're very, very proud of being selected as Canada's safest employer for the best health and safety management system.

Speaker1: [00:01:03] How integral is sustainability to workplace health and safety and why?

Speaker2: [00:01:09] Well, thank you for this great question. I mean, at Siemens, sustainability and workplace health and safety are among our core values. And that's why we've taken our commitment to a next level and what we call a degree framework. It is a 360-degree approach for all stakeholders, our employees, our customers, suppliers, investors and societies that we serve. It's ingrained in our company culture, and it starts from the top of our management. With that said, I'd like to introduce a video from our president and CEO Faisal Kazi, to give us an in-depth inside of the degree framework here at Siemens Canada.

Speaker3: [00:01:43] At Siemens, we are passionate about protecting the environment, caring for the well-being, health and safety of all people, as well as contributing towards a sustainable future. Siemens has a strong track record in sustainability, and it's now accelerating its sustainability approach with a degree framework. The degree framework sets the priorities to answer the challenges of today and to improve the quality of life of people now, but also for the generations to come. Every degree counts as we strive to meet the needs of an ever evolving future. It constitutes a three hundred and sixty degree approach for all stakeholders, our people, our customers, our suppliers, our investors, the societies we serve, and most importantly, the planet. The framework represents a whole new level in our commitment to sustainable development. It includes good governance, social responsibility and protecting the environment.

Siemens’ “healthy and safe at Siemens program” is focused on fostering employee wellbeing to maintain sustainable performance, while supporting a health and safety mindset and ensuring competencies to cope with the fast changing world. Wellbeing at work, in my opinion, has two facets: a health promoting work environment and having the skills to perform the tasks. A healthy work climate is strongly connected to wellbeing. It is the key for high performing teams, is closely interrelated with well-being and has effects not only on individuals, but on teams and the whole organization.

Having proper skills is important for employees to execute their work in an effective and efficient manner, thus leaving room for work life balance. Health, safety and well-being of our employees is a crucial component to our success. Therefore, Siemens continues to invest in enhancing company health benefits. We are investing in training and at the same time, improving the workplace experience through our building technologies.

Speaker1: [00:03:55] That all sounds amazing. Thank you, Faisal, for that in-depth insight into the degree framework and how sustainability and workplace health and safety work hand in hand at Siemens. And thank you, Nada.

So moving into the next question, what would you say distinguishes Siemens is safety program from others?

Speaker2: [00:04:13] Well, Siemens has an incredibly strong safety culture. Our core beliefs and values drive the way we behave and act. The leadership commitment and the culture are fundamental to our success. Among our core principles are few things caring for people in the environment, not compromising on health and safety. Speaking in, intervening, acting as a role model and driving our agenda excellence and embracing change and innovation. Our leadership culture sets the work environment where health and safety matters and measures for sustainable business and well-being is a priority. We leave these principles every day and we don't compromise. Our people are our most valuable assets. And therefore, this is why Siemens has been in Canada for over 100 years. Our health and safety management system reflects our efforts to improve and enhance our performance continuously. Our health and safety program at Siemens focuses on healthy and safe mindsets and competencies required to cope with our fast-facing working world.

Speaker1: [00:05:16] Interesting, thank you. So how has the pandemic impacted health and safety at your organization and how did you adapt?

Speaker2: [00:05:24] Well, the COVID 19 pandemic is one of the biggest challenges that we world ever had to face, and in a very short time, it has changed lives of billions of people. It goes to say how important health and safety really is and has put a focus on employees’ health and safety and well-being for sustainability of any business.

At Siemens, we provide essential products and services therefore, we have remained to be open throughout the entire pandemic. In the beginning of the pandemic, we really had to pivot fast. We've had three sets of workforce our office staff, our factory operations and our service operations. And each one of them has required a different approach in order to ensure business continuity as well as employee health and safety. Some of the main things how we were able to sustain our performance and continue to support our customers is making rapid decisions. We were very agile in communicating making decisions on the fly in the beginning of the pandemic. The information was coming in by an hour of what the situation is in the country, and we had to literally make sure that the communication is out there, that our people are ready and that we're able to continue to run our business. We have definitely been able to establish our emergency response team, which is a cross-functional group of people from various different departments, and there was no boundaries. Speaker2: [00:06:43] We just went to work and made sure that we can meet the requirements of our employees or customers and our stakeholders.

For our operations, we've put in very stringent health and safety protocols. We have mobilized our office workforce straight to remote working. We already were very much mobile working environment before pandemic, but it really enabled us to quickly transition over for the rest of the workforce to go mobile, including our back office support for our manufacturing operations. Of course, we remain transparent with our workforce. We have continuous communication with our management and our employees on the status and what the next steps are going to be. We've always had a mobile working environment. However, pandemic has really enabled us to make this a step further. Siemens has made a global announcement that we're going to a mobile working environment. These changes were associated with a different leadership style, of course. We were no longer focused on how much time can someone spend in office, but more so off the output and the outcome that each of us do bring, no matter where we're working from.

Speaker1: [00:07:49] What are the components of a good safety program?

Speaker2: [00:07:53] You know, there is a number of different components that different companies or I have experienced through my career and environment, health and safety, But I say the leadership commitment is the key factor in successful health and safety program. Tone from the top sets the stage for the organization and allows employees to see that we care and the organization cares. Without leadership commitment, Safety does not become a culture and a fundamental part of doing business for us. Our logo is safety. It's a mindset. This is how we start our day. This is how we end our day showing the commitment by empowering and entrusting our employees. You know, there's no compromise on health and safety. The employees in the leadership see it as a common goal leading by example. We often hear the phrase Walk the talk. It is really important involvement participating in initiatives that we're putting in there and providing the feedback both ways and employee recognition. I feel it's really important, when we first started looking into our zero harm culture about 10 years back, we've done a survey that gauged on various processes and various parts of our program is the key factor in enabling employees to engage and recognize the efforts that they're doing and us recognizing back actually the strengthened the culture it allows us by engaging our employees, recognizing them to build them into a safety leaders or becoming what we some would call “cultural influencers.” So they're out there preaching the same culture and the same expectation.

Speaker1: [00:09:24] Well, thank you for joining me in this interview and congratulations once again. We're looking forward to what else is in store for you this year and wish you the best of luck.

Speaker2: [00:09:33] Well, thank you very much. It has been a great pleasure.

Speaker1: [00:09:36] That's wonderful. Thank you so much, Nada, and thank you for joining us today and thank you for watching us TV.