Cargill makes progress on worker safety, sustainability

by Staff
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MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA, U.S. — During fiscal 2011, which ended May 31, Cargill made major progress toward its 2015 Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) goals — five-year, companywide goals centered worker safety and environmental sustainability, the company said on Oct. 11.

"We've made meaningful progress toward achieving our EHS 2015 goals," said LaRaye Osborne, Cargill corporate environment, health and safety vice-president. "We are harvesting the value of our considerable investment in research, people, processes and technologies. As a result, more of our employees and contractors return home safely at the end of their work day, and we are reducing the environmental impact of our operations."

By 2015, Cargill aims to achieve zero fatalities, zero injuries at 75% of its more than 1,200 operating locations globally, and a Reportable Injury Frequency Rate (RIFR) — the number of injuries per 200,000 hours worked — of 2.0.

"Like many companies, Cargill has had tremendous success in reducing workplace injuries, but was troubled by the lack of similar progress in reducing fatalities," said Osborne. "Along with several other companies that lead with safety, we asked Behavior Sciences Technologies and Mercer ORC Networks to determine if common assumptions and strategies for reducing injuries and fatalities needed rethinking. That work is the basis for new and separate strategies for reducing injuries — focused on addressing human error — and for reducing fatalities. Our focus is on identifying and mitigating serious injury and fatality precursor conditions in our businesses."

Introduction of these new strategies contributed in one year to a 50% reduction in fatalities, a 7% improvement in the company's reportable injury frequency rate, and 68% of Cargill's locations operating injury free.

"We are encouraged by last year results, and the progress made toward our 2015 goals. On the other hand, the fact that friends and colleagues lost their lives while working for Cargill last year is devastating," said Osborne. "Motor vehicle safety and traffic-related death is a significant concern in many areas in which we operate. Assuring adherence to safety requirements is a challenge, particularly among contractors. But recognizing risk, building people skills and processes that encourage and are responsive to the 'what if?' questions, remains our biggest opportunity and is the backbone of our 2015 strategies."

By 2015, Cargill aims to improve energy efficiency by 5%; improve greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity by 5%; increase renewable energy to 12.5% of its energy portfolio; and improve freshwater efficiency by 5%.

In fiscal year 2011, Cargill harvested years of investment in developing the people, processes, and technology to address these priorities:

Energy efficiency improved 3.7% over its 2010 baseline;
GHG intensity improved 3.8% over its 2010 baseline;
Renewables accounted for 11% of the company's energy portfolio; and
Freshwater efficiency improved 3.1% over its 2010 baseline.

Several environmental initiatives were established by Cargill that contributed to this recent progress and that will play a key role in the coming year and beyond. Examples include:

Cargill's recently announced $36 million waste-to-energy project at its High River, Alberta, beef processing facility will increase to 80% the plant's ability to generate energy from byproducts (or non-fossil-fuel sources) upon completion;

Through Cargill's Behavior Based Energy Management (BBEM) system, a tool which engages employees in recognizing and eliminating energy inefficiencies, nearly 200 Cargill facilities conducted rigorous self-assessments to identify opportunities to run their plants more efficiently;

Cargill established "Project Crowbar," with seed funds for use by its Technology Development Center to identify and deploy energy efficiency technologies that can be replicated rapidly across numerous operating plants and manufacturing technologies; and

Cargill invested in numerous new technologies at its facilities to expand its use of renewable energy, including combined heat-and-power units, which operate with improved efficiencies, at two Cargill facilities in Brazil.

This momentum is continuing for Cargill in the early months of fiscal 2012, particularly with worker safety. For example, in the first three months of fiscal 2012, the company's RIFR was 24% better than the same period last year.

"As our businesses roll out enhanced EHS strategies this year, we expect progress to accelerate across all critical measures," said Osborne.

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