our management approach to Safety

Topics Discussed in this Section:

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. .

Safety Governance

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 identify 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 25,420 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.

Externally, GM maintains an open dialogue with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), including monthly meetings with senior agency officials, with expedited discussions as needed, covering field investigations, safety recalls and other issues. GM also participates in periodic meetings with NHTSA and other stakeholders to advance safety discussions that benefit the industry as a whole.

Autonomous Technology Development

An aspect of vehicle safety that is quickly growing in importance is the safety of advanced driver assistance systems and autonomous technology in vehicles, a critical part of our vision to achieve zero crashes. While fully autonomous vehicles — those requiring no input from a human driver — are not yet in use on public roads, advanced safety innovations available today represent first steps in the road to autonomous driving. Lane Departure Warning can alert drivers when they cross a detected lane marker when driving. Lane Keep Assist takes this a step further by providing gentle steering wheel turns to help keep a vehicle from inadvertently leaving its lane. Through small changes such as these, vehicles are increasingly aiding with routine driving tasks. This gradual transition will not only improve safety — we believe it will increase drivers’ comfort with self-driving technology.

At the same time, GM is aware of the need to increase public awareness of the risks associated with drivers becoming overly reliant on today’s vehicles to do the job of keeping them safe. Feature enhancements and increasingly sophisticated safety technologies are no replacement for safe, smart driving behavior. We continue to invest in partnerships and initiatives to decrease driver distraction and educate drivers, especially new drivers, on the many hazards that remain when they get behind the wheel.

Lane Departure Warning can alert drivers when they cross a detected lane marker when driving

Our Workplace Safety Vision: Live Values that Return People Home Safely. Every Person. Every Site. Every Day.

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 Monthly Operating Reviews with 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 GSLC determines strategic global safety direction and approves all workplace safety initiatives, which are the responsibility of the GM Vice President of Workplace Safety. This senior management member also provides a quarterly update on the safety performance of the company to the GM Board of Directors (BOD). Enterprise workplace safety risks and control initiatives are reviewed on an annual basis, and updates are provided to the BOD Risk Committee on a quarterly basis.

Global Workplace Safety Strategy

In 2018, we developed a comprehensive Global Workplace Safety strategy to highlight the five key focus dimensions that will enable us to achieve our vision of zero injuries. Each year, we will establish new initiatives under each of the focus areas to make progress toward this vision.

Those dimensions are:

  • Enterprise Safety Culture (Culture Dimension)
    GM believes safety begins with a decision. Our vision is for each person to decide to keep themselves and their team members safe. In 2018, the “invisible hand” concept was introduced to spark discussion about why people choose to take unwanted risks. This concept acknowledges the performance pressure associated with natural human instinct to work faster and more efficiently — often at the expense of working safely. To further develop a strong safety culture, we surveyed over a dozen companies who provide culture change support and identified a partner that will help us on this journey in 2019.

Senior leadership plays an important role in instilling safety throughout the GM culture. Workplace safety is a criterion for senior leadership performance reviews. We also initiated the process, which will be implemented in 2019, for tying safety performance to executive compensation. A framework was created to link lagging and leading metrics to drive improvement in corporatewide safety culture. Lagging metrics will incorporate performance in fatalities, permanent disabling injuries and lost work injuries. Leading indicators will be developed by each function and will drive proactive initiatives to improve GM’s safety culture.

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. Global Safety Week, as well as other events year-round, help leaders educate employees on safety topics.

  • Hazard and Risk Identification (Knowledge Dimension)
    GM’s vision is for every person, at every site, to recognize hazards, understand risk levels and feel empowered to address safety concerns. Last year, more than 40,000 people were trained in basic hazard recognition, and over 10,000 leaders were trained in GM’s risk assessment tools. Hazard recognition also was included in our training programs for new hire and summer intern programs.

    Hazards identified are captured through our reporting systems, which include our employee safety concern process, safety tours or safety conversations. During 2018, 3,379 unsafe acts and conditions were reported and addressed. During Global Safety Week, the South America Manufacturing Leadership challenged all employees to identify new hazards, and over 3,000 potentially unsafe conditions were identified.

  • Workplace Safety System Maturity (Systems Dimension).
    Our global safety management system, Workplace Safety System (WSS), drives continuous improvement in all five GWS dimensions. 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. Using the PDCA cycle 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,” which reinforces behaviors that change the culture. The five main components of the PDCA cycle are broken down into 18 individual elements.

We aspire to do business with companies that share the same commitment to returning people home safely

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 a performance standard. Both performance and technical standards are mandatory for all GM operating units.

Our performance and technical standards include, for example, standards to manage confined space entries, electrical safety, hazardous energy control, fall hazards and pedestrian and mobile vehicle interaction. Some of these standards are also focused on having healthy working environments for our employees, like ergonomic programs, noise control and indoor air quality programs.

Ergonomically correct workspaces are a priority at manufacturing facilities around the world. All workspaces at manufacturing facilities must meet ergonomic criteria, and job positions are evaluated using screening tools like Risk Factor Checklist, Global Ergonomic Screening Tool, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Lifting Equation and the Occupational Repetitive Action tool.

During 2018, our operational units matured the implementation of the WSS. We also created and operationalized a validation process to identify systemic opportunities and developed gap closure plans to promote continuous improvement of the process.

  • Data-Driven Decisions (Data Dimension)
    Accessible, easy-to-analyze global safety data promotes data-driven decisions. In 2018, GM launched a new Safety Analytics Dashboard to access global performance data for analysis, replacing a patchwork of disconnected data collection systems. In addition, a new data management system was developed for reporting all safety information, including predictive leading metrics (audit, inspection and risk mitigation data)

  • Safety Contract Management (Risk Mitigation Dimension)
    We aspire to do business with companies that share the same commitment to returning people home safely. Historically, most fatalities and severe injuries suffered on GM sites have involved contractors. In 2018, GM expanded the scope of safety contract management to include all service providers, not just construction. We participated in a safety contract management key contract symposium to directly engage contractors in our safety requirements. We also established a cross-functional safety council with major contractors on the purchasing team.