American Standard (ASD) began a new dedicated and focused effort to improve the workplace safety and health of the organization in 1999 when a new CEO joined the company. The ASD journey of developing a safety culture was more than that. It was also a journey of driving change and unifying a multi-business company to one common vision. We implemented a new safety and health (S&H) culture by following a set strategy and applying a change model. The change model was adapted from models and concepts from John Kotter and Jim Collins. 1,2

First, some background information about American Standard. American Standard is a global manufacturer with market leading positions in three businesses:

  • Air Conditioning Systems and Services, sold under the Trane® and American Standard® brands for commercial, institutional and residential buildings;

  • Bath and Kitchen products, sold under such brands as American Standard® and Ideal Standard®; and

  • Vehicle Control Systems, including electronic braking and air suspension systems, sold under the WABCO® brand name to the world's leading manufacturers of heavy-duty trucks, buses, SUVs and luxury cars.

American Standard employs approximately 61,000 people in 134 manufacturing operations and about 300 sales, service and distribution sites in 28 countries. Approximately 80% of its employees are located outside the US, in Europe, Asia, South, Central America and Canada.

Determination of a World Class Safety and Health Strategy

What are the safety rate performance results in American Standard from the year 1999 to now? Almost a 90% reduction in total case rate (TCIR) and lost time case rate (LWCIR) to our current 2007 rates of TCIR of 1.04 and LWCIR of 0.25. (Exhibit 1.)

Exhibit 1. American Standard Safety Rate Performance from 1999 to 2006 (available in full paper).

How was this accomplished? In two steps, which actually occurred simultaneously:

  1. We developed and implemented an American Standard S&H strategy of "culture, process and talent", based on world class safety models and best practices, and

  2. We deployed the strategy and drove the new change by applying a change model.

To develop the optimum strategy, we conducted detailed benchmarking. Companies with which we have benchmarked, both in the past and currently, include E.I. Dupont, Boeing, Ford, Dow, Takanaka Construction, Milliken, John Deere, Carrier and Ontario Power Generation. We seek the best practices in safety process and culture, leading metrics and the level of performance results achieved.

Through benchmarking, we initially discovered and continue to confirm and perfect the characteristics of world class safety and how to achieve it. We adopted these characteristics and best practices, and created the American Standard S&H strategy. (Exhibit 2). Three elements were formed: culture, process and talent.

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