Committing to EH&S for a Safe & Healthy Future
As the Corporate Director of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) for the Babcock & Wilcox Company, Daniel Helman oversees 40 EH&S professionals and handles all aspects of EH&S practices, risk management and workers’ compensation throughout Babcock & Wilcox’s operating locations.
In this interview, Helman discusses the components of Babcock & Wilcox’s newly reevaluated EH&S program and its connection to the company’s strategic plan. He also describes Babcock & Wilcox’s view of EH&S investment, the success of EH&S initiatives such as “Target Zero” and the company’s EH&S plans for the future.
Please provide a brief overview of the Babcock & Wilcox Company and of its involvement in the coal-fired boiler industry.
Babcock & Wilcox Company, which has been in business for over 135 years, primarily serves the electric power, nuclear power, pulp and paper, industrial, construction and environmental markets. Its power generation systems and equipment are found in more than 800 utilities worldwide.
Babcock & Wilcox manufactures, constructs and install boilers and provides onsite boiler maintenance. The company also manufactures air pollution-control equipment.
What are your duties as Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) Director? How many employees are you responsible for and what are the major components of Babcock & Wilcox’s EH&S program?
I oversee the 40 EH&S professionals within the company who are responsible for the safety and health of our employees.
Our EH&S program is based on Babcock & Wilcox’s strategic plan, which outlines a 12-point strategy to reach specific goals within a three- to five-year period, and EH&S is also one of the six core values of the company’s business plan. Our vision statement at the executive level is to complete each day injury- and incident-free, so as you can see, EH&S practices are embedded into the company’s entire business model.
Babcock & Wilcox integrates the “Target Zero” concept into its safety program. What is the “Target Zero” concept and how has it improved safety at Babcock & Wilcox?
“Target Zero” is the ultimate goal to which we aspire, and it is essentially the approach we use to reach the goals defined in our 12-point strategy. The “Target Zero” concept is engrained within Babcock & Wilcox—we discuss it at all meetings. Thanks to “Target Zero,” our incident and injury rates have decreased by 75% over the past ten years.
Babcock & Wilcox recently reevaluated its EH&S program and developed a strategic plan to address areas that call for enhancement. What initiatives does this plan include, and how will they be carried out?
At the beginning of 2005, we developed a strategic plan that presents a methodical business structure to flatten the results of our risk management/insurance activities and to improve rates. As a matter of fact, my current position was created in 2004 to lead this effort. I supervise the EH&S function within the strategic plan, which includes 12 initiatives that each consist of five to 40 specific activities that we will integrate into our business model.
How are EH&S practices implemented and maintained among Babcock & Wilcox’s national and international locations?
All of our operations must achieve the same internal EH&S standards and must obtain the specific policies and standards of our world-class EH&S management system. To validate our practices, we conduct field audits to ensure that operations comply with our internal standards and go above and beyond the local regulatory requirements within that specific country.
What is Babcock & Wilcox’s view of EH&S investment, and how is it incorporated into the company’s strategic plan?
EH&S investment is embedded within our six core values, and the importance of EH&S practices in preventing injuries and protecting the environment is inherent in our products. For example, our air pollution-control equipment cleans the environment.
Our strategic plan also includes seven “planks,” and the fifth plank is EH&S. That is how EH&S practices are integrated into Babcock & Wilcox’s business model.
What methods does Babcock & Wilcox use to train its EH&S staff?
Of the 40 EH&S professionals we have on staff, seven are new hires. We recruit high-caliber, talented people such as Certified Safety Professionals (CSPs), Certified Industrial Hygienists (CIHs) and Certified Hazardous Materials Managers (CHMMs). These types of certifications are the minimum requirements that we expect of our employees.
Each year, employees create a professional development plan. Under this plan, they must either maintain their certifications or increase their knowledge to obtain specific certifications. To assist employees in their professional development, we offer annual in-house training. Classroom instruction is our primary training method, but our EH&S staff also makes use of online training. Our in-house talent base normally leads classroom instruction because of their experience and ownership in the training materials, however, if a particular course requires a specific expertise, we hire outside consultants to teach.
Employees are also required to attend at least one professional development conference annually.
How do you ensure that Babcock & Wilcox complies with state and federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations?
At my level, we monitor all federal and state rules, and we provide input to regulators through trade associations. In all of the countries in which we operate, we adhere to local regulations.
In addition, I subscribe to several electronic resources, including the Federal Register, to stay abreast of regulatory requirements.
In 1995, Babcock & Wilcox opened the Clean Coal Environmental Development Facility (CEDF), a combustion and emissions testing facility, in Alliance, Ohio. Please describe how this facility operates and how it has improved the environment within the last ten years.
Since the CEDF is a research and development facility, its primary task is to develop new and creative cost-effective methods for boiler operations and air pollution control. The work performed at this facility during the last ten years has helped to enhance the technology used in the products we have on the market today. Recent test data show that our current products have higher efficiencies than those from ten years ago.
Recruiting representatives from Babcock & Wilcox regularly visit college campuses to interview students for entry-level positions. How has the recruitment program benefited both students and Babcock & Wilcox since it was first implemented?
Babcock &Wilcox has a long history of recruiting highly qualified entry-level talent through our college recruiting program. We typically visit over 30 college and university campuses across the country each year, and we interview over 200 candidates for positions within the company. Those who join our company receive training and are given developmental opportunities in order to grow into more responsible positions. Many members of our senior management staff began their careers as college recruits. It is vitally important that we continue to bring new talent into the organization through the program to enhance the development of our next generation of leaders and to ensure the company’s ongoing success. We are proud to have been named as one of the top 500 entry-level employers by CollegeGrad.com, which includes some of the best companies in the country for recruiting entry-level talent.
Babcock & Wilcox has been named a “Best Place to Work” in Northeast Ohio. How did Babcock & Wilcox qualify for this honor?
This is Babcock &Wilcox’s third consecutive year as a “NorthCoast 99 Best Places to Work” winner. Babcock &Wilcox was selected for this award based on a number of criteria, including work-life balance programs, benefits, compensation, health and safety, training and education, diversity, community service, recruitment and retention programs and employee communication. We are also a past Special Category Award winner in the area of compensation. Our compensation program was recognized as “the best of the best” among the NorthCoast 99 award recipients.
What recommendations can you make to companies who wish to improve their own EH&S programs?
Before a company can improve its EH&S program, senior management must commit to EH&S, and adequate EH&S resources must be available and in place. You cannot design an effective EH&S system if you are always in “reactive mode.” It takes perseverance to develop and execute an EH&S system.
You must also set forth concrete goals as well as an established standard and audit for compliance so that you know where you want your EH&S program to be at the end of the day. One of your most important goals should be to run your operation beyond compliance.
Daniel Helman is the Corporate Director of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) for the Babcock & Wilcox Company in Barberon, Ohio. Helman is responsible for all aspects of EH&S practices, risk management and workers’ compensation throughout the company’s operating locations, and he is also credited with creating a company-wide EH&S Management Program that has minimized risk and increased shareholder value.
Helman has held several EH&S leadership positions throughout his professional career, including Corporate Director of Health and Safety for GAF Materials Corporation, Corporate Director of Environmental Health and Safety for Werner Company, Global Manager of EH&S for Monroe Auto Equipment Company and EH&S Supervisor at PPG Industries, Inc. In addition, he has taught health and safety courses at Kent State University and at Richland Community College.
Helman is a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH), a Certified Safety Professional (CSP), a Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM), a Registered Environmental Manager (REM) and a
Certified Safety and Health Manager (CSHM).
He is also a member of the following organizations:
Helman holds a bachelor of science degree in safety sciences from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master of science degree in industrial hygiene from the Medical College of Ohio.