Skip to main content

Leading Through Our Purpose

Geoff Walter

Health and Safety: Shared Responsibility

The COVID-19 pandemic has drawn global attention to the need for shared responsibility for health – and it’s great to see how people have embraced it. People are working hard to protect themselves and the people around them, and companies like Owens Corning are working hard to help our employees stay healthy.

Our Environment, Health, and Safety teams around the world are charged with making sure the right precautions and policies are in place to reduce contagion, based on the latest science. It’s a natural extension of the work they do to reduce injury. June is National Safety Month in the U.S., and as businesses begin to reopen, the connections between safety, health, and business are crystal clear.

We’ve built a safety culture at Owens Corning that emphasizes that safety is everyone’s responsibility, and our culture of caring has been a great foundation for our COVID-19 response. The commitment to care for each other has ensured that we prioritize people’s wellbeing as we seek creative solutions to new challenges, understand the value and limitations of personal protective equipment (and rapidly adapt!), and communicate constantly to share best practices and reach out for help.

The pandemic hasn’t interrupted our safety journey. In fact, we’ve had even fewer safety incidents than before. We believe this is partly because the measures taken to slow the spread of the virus have also reduced the interruptions and distractions that can cause safety hazards. Our challenge will be to maintain the focus and vigilance even as we return our operations and interactions to more normal levels.

I chose a career in EHS because I was drawn to the mix of science and people. I like that it’s solidly grounded in physical science as well as social science, and uses research and data to help people live their fullest lives while helping business succeed. Our response to the coronavirus relies on the same tools and techniques that Owens Corning uses to improve safety. It’s also aligned with our approach to sustainability overall: science informs our goals and guides our efforts.

Owens Corning’s safety culture is part of our sustainability story, and our long-term aspirations to eliminate injuries, occupational illnesses, and lifestyle-induced diseases reflect our purpose. Sustainability is about creating a better world for the future, and that includes making sure that people are safe, healthy, and able to thrive – at work and at home.

Just a note about my photo from a safety perspective – the angle makes it look like I’m too close to the edge of a cliff (on the Isle of Skye, in Scotland), but the rock actually extends a good bit beyond what you see!