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A Culture of Safety

Keeping People Safe

Vehicle and workplace safety are inextricably linked, and GM has governance mechanisms and programs in place to support a culture where safety is everyone’s responsibility.

Across the company, we have made both workplace and product safety everyone’s responsibility—from our vehicles to corporate hallways to factory floors. We celebrate our commitment to both product and workplace safety, as well as our holistic approach to safety every year through our internal Safety Week. To emphasize the importance of all aspects of safety, we added health and wellness as a key topic during this year’s Global Safety Week.

The week’s activities emphasized three pillars of a healthy lifestyle—sleep, exercise and eating well—and shared resources for employees dealing with stress, anxiety and other mental health issues. This focus on mental health has been especially important during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. We have learned how important it is not only to keep employees safe, but also to ensure they feel safe and confident coming to work and going home to their families.

Our commitment also continues to be evident in our decision-making process for safety issues that includes executives at the highest levels of the company and engages employees at every level to identify potential vehicle safety issues. 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 and safety forensic engineers who help identify and investigate potential vehicle safety issues. A data analytics 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. Meanwhile, Global Vehicle Engineering improves cross-system integration and addresses functional safety and compliance in the vehicle development process.

The Employee Safety Concerns Process provides a structure for employees at manufacturing sites and office environments 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. Since the program’s inception, more than 32,917 concerns and/or suggestions have been logged globally by employees and dealers. To reinforce a sense of personal accountability, employees’ performance is evaluated in part on a demonstrated commitment to safety.

By building a culture of safety, we attempt to find issues sooner and reduce the number of impacted vehicles. Externally, GM maintains an open dialogue with 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.

Speaking Up in Action

A SUFS submission in 2020 led to swift production changes for the new mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette. A technician at a dealership in Florida noticed that a vehicle he was repairing was missing one of two retention pins that are part of the parking brake system. The dealership submitted a Field Product Report detailing the issue, and the Chevrolet Corvette brand quality team reviewed the submission and took action to assess, contain and resolve the issue. The Safety Field Investigation process initiated by the SUFS submission determined this issue affected only a small number of vehicles and there was no safety risk, but there was the potential for wheel damage and customer dissatisfaction. Thanks to the quick work of everyone involved, we took measures to prevent the issue from recurring in production and to inspect any vehicles coming in for service.

Number of Recalls
(With Fewer than 10,000 Vehicles)
2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
24 7 16 15 30
GM Safety & Noncompliance Recalls
(Number of Recalls)
  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Global 90 46 50 45 57
North America 36 18 29 29 43
GM Safety & Noncompliance Recalls
(Vehicle Volume in Millions)
  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Global 9.42 2.05 4.23 8.58 1.8
North America 7.06 1.42 2.18 7.34 1.6