In 1987, Paul O’Neill Gave his first speech as to shareholders as CEO of Alcoa. What did he talk about? …….He talked about “Safety”
“Every year, numerous Alcoa workers are injured so badly that they miss a day of work,” O’Neill continued. “Our safety record is better than the general American workforce, especially considering that our employees work with metals that are 1500 degrees and machines that can rip a man’s arm off. But it’s not good enough. I intend to make Alcoa the safest company in America. I intend to go for zero injuries.”
The audience was bewildered. As Charles Duhigg relays in the “Power of Habit,” a furtive hand went up, asking about inventories.
“I’m not certain you heard me,” O’Neill continued. “If you want to understand how Alcoa is doing, you need to look at our workplace safety figures.”
For the new CEO, safety trumped profits.
The emphasis on safety made an impact. Over O’Neill’s tenure, Alcoa dropped from 1.86 lost work days to injury per 100 workers to 0.2. By 2012, the rate had fallen to 0.125.
The above “One Hour and Seven Minute” speech is an example of his philosophy and vision for safety in the workplace. It’s truly worth the time to watch!