Our Management
Approach to

Safety

Key Takeaways
  • Workplace and vehicle safety are foundational commitments that go hand in hand, and everyone at GM has responsibility for them.
  • Various organizations across GM work to address potential vehicle safety issues before they even occur.
  • Platforms such as our Employee Concerns Process and Speak Up For Safety (SUFS) leverage different ways for employees, suppliers and dealers to report vehicle or workplace safety concerns.
  • Our companywide Workplace Safety System (WSS) framework presents tangible actions to drive safe behaviors that prevent injuries on the job.

Our approach to safety is seamless and comprehensive: The best way to produce safe vehicles, free of defects, is in safe workplaces where employees are accountable for their personal safety and the safety of those around them. Across the company, we have made both workplace and product safety everyone’s responsibility—from our vehicles to corporate hallways to factory floors. Today, our decision-making process for safety issues includes executives at the highest levels of the company and engaged employees at every level to identify potential safety issues.

Vehicle Safety

Our vice president of Global Vehicle Safety, in addition to leading our product safety organization, is accountable for developing GM’s vehicle safety systems, confirming and validating our vehicle safety performance, identifying emerging issues and conducting post-sale safety activities, including recalls.

Our Global Product Development organization includes a robust team of internal product investigators in North America who help identify and quickly resolve potential vehicle safety issues and safety forensic engineers who are responsible for early identification of potential vehicle safety issues. Meanwhile, Global Vehicle Engineering improves cross-system integration and addresses functional safety and compliance in the vehicle development process. We also employ a data analytics team to identify potential vehicle safety issues. This team merges multiple inputs—such as Speak Up For Safety (SUFS) submissions and dealer service records—to build a unique, comprehensive database. Statistical analysis and modeling identifies potential issues early by linking perceived disparate issues.

Programs are in place to support a culture where safety is everyone’s responsibility. The Employee Safety Concerns Process provides a structure for employees at manufacturing sites to report potential workplace safety issues. Our SUFS program, meanwhile, is designed to give employees, suppliers and dealers an easy, consistent and unfiltered way to report potential vehicle safety issues. Through a toll-free phone number, a smartphone app, email or the SUFS website, submitters can report any potential vehicle safety risks and suggest improvements. From there, our dedicated safety team funnels employee concerns to the appropriate departments. Individuals track their submission through the review and decision process so they can learn more about the process and understand the status of their concern. Since the program’s inception, more than 20,087 concerns and/or suggestions have been logged globally by employees and dealers.

To reinforce a sense of personal accountability, safety is a part of employees’ performance criteria for compensation.

Workplace Safety

Our workplace safety vision is to “Live Values that Return People Home Safely. Every Person. Every Site. Every Day.” This vision is guided by our safety policy, which applies to all employees and others working at our sites, including consultants, agents, sales representatives, distributors, independent contractors, third-party suppliers who work on GM premises and contract workers when they perform work for GM.

Like product safety, we manage workplace safety at the highest levels through GM’s Safety Oversight Committee (SOC). This committee consists of six global functional senior leaders, including the CEO, and the Global Safety Leadership Council (GSLC), which is comprised of over 20 senior global manufacturing leaders. The SOC and GSLC determine strategic global safety direction and approve all workplace safety initiatives, which are the responsibility of GM’s Vice President of Workplace Safety. Workplace safety risks are evaluated monthly, and the GM Board of Directors reviews identified risks at least once per year.

We instill safety through the Workplace Safety System (WSS). This is a systematic approach that all sites use to support the GM safety culture and to drive safe behaviors that prevent injuries. The system uses global procedures, performance standards and technical standards to reinforce goals and objectives and behavioral expectations for safety.

The WSS includes a set of tools, known as elements, designed to drive continuous improvement in safety through the Plan Do Check Act (PDCA) cycle. By using the PDCA cycle it changes our mindset from “tell me what you want me to get done” to “I know what I need to do, and I know how to improve upon it”—this drives behaviors to change the culture.

At GM, ensuring safe vehicles and a safe workforce are everyone’s responsibility.

Performance Standards establish the minimum global requirements to manage specific hazards common to GM sites. A subset of Performance Standards are Technical Standards, which provide additional technical details for effective implementation of the Performance Standard. Both Performance and Technical Standards requirements are mandatory for all GM Operating Units.

Senior leadership plays an important role in instilling safety throughout the GM culture. During 2017, workplace safety was incorporated as a criterion for senior leadership performance reviews. As part of our end-to-end approach to safety, GM engages leaders in every function to demonstrate safe behaviors for their teams and conduct risk assessments to address potential hazards. These could be anything from risks in the manufacturing environment to injuries resulting from sitting in an incorrectly adjusted chair. Global Safety Week, as well as other events year-round, helps leaders educate employees on safety topics.

Also, during 2017, we made several enhancements to our workplace safety programs and policies, including:

  • Establishing a mobile device policy that was rolled out globally.
  • Requiring safety glasses in every manufacturing location.
  • Ensuring consistency across all manufacturing plants for other required personal protective equipment, such as footwear.

Many GM locations also encourage workers to sign in each day with a written daily commitment to remain uninjured, further strengthening a culture that is committed to safety at work, at home and in vehicles.

Workplace Safety System Framework

The Workplace Safety System is made up of a group of interacting, interrelated or interdependent elements which provide the tools for the implementation of safety programs at General Motors sites. The system contains five main Components that make up the Plan–Do–Check–Act cycle.

The five main Components are further broken down into 18 individual Elements, which provide the framework for the implementation of Performance Standards.

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