Health & Wellbeing
Safety + You = Zero Harm
Brigette Philpot
Brigette Philpot
Vice President, Environment, Health & Safety, North Am Ops, Sodexo

Brigette is responsible for leading the North American Safety Team to drive our Zero Harm culture and improve the Quality of Life of our employees, clients and customers by keeping them safe.


As we celebrate National Safety Month in June, I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on creating a workplace where safety comes first.

Let’s start by taking a look at the most common kinds of injuries in the workplace. According to the National Safety Council, the top causes of injury in American workplaces last year were:

  • Over-exertion and bodily reaction, which includes injuries related to pulling, lifting, pushing, holding, carrying, and throwing activities at work, caused over 312,000 injuries last year. Most of those—34 percent—resulted from lifting and lowering.
  • Falls, slips, and trips accounted for nearly 250,000 workplace injuries. This category includes falls on wet and slippery floors or trips over something lying on the floor.
  • Cuts caused nearly 85,000 injuries last year, or 9.3 percent of all injuries in the private sector/all industries.
  • Burns accounted for over 15,000 workplace injuries last year, or 1.7 percent of injuries in the private sector/all industries.

When you look at the list above, the most important thing to recognize is that all of these injuries were preventable. Every single one.

I have had the unfortunate experience of losing someone in a safety-related accident that was preventable. I have a passion for keeping everyone safe. I know that the key to preventing accidents like this is to create a total safety culture, in which every part of the day is infused with a focus on safety.

Start with a safety checklist that employees should use before every single task. At Sodexo, we require all employees to ask the following three questions before beginning any task (you can use these questions at home too):

  1. Do I know how to do the job?
  2. Do I have the right equipment?
  3. Is my environment safe?

If the answer is no to any of these questions, speak up to play an active role in preventing incidents and/or causing harm to yourself or others around you.

A check list is the core of a good safety program, but you need to go beyond this to reinforce safety practices throughout the day. In the heat of a hectic work day, it’s easy for employees to forget about safety and rush through a task. A better strategy is to find multiple times a day to talk about safety and keep it top-of mind. For example, at Sodexo we begin every single meeting with what we call a “Safety Moment,” in which the presenter selects a safety topic meaningful to them and facilitates a five-minute discussion about it. It sets the tone for the meeting—that nothing is more important than the safety of our employees and our customers.

At the same time, we run multiple safety campaigns year-round to make sure our employees remember that safety is our top priority. For example, last year, Sodexo launched a global Have A Safe Day campaign to drive safety culture and change behaviors. In the fall of 2016 we celebrated Zero October, and asked all employees to make a personal commitment to their safety and the safety of those around them, whether at work, at home or in between. Now Sodexo is taking it to the next level with a new Safety Campaign called 3-2-1 ZERO, which focuses on the top causes of injury in the workplace that I listed above.

At Sodexo, our mission is to improve Quality of Life for the people we serve: our employees, customers and clients one of the ways we do this is by keeping everyone safe at all times.

What are you doing to create a total safety culture at work, at home and in-between?

5 comments on “Safety + You = Zero Harm

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    Kyle Koschalk says:

    Thank you for posting this Brigette. We’ve been reviewing the National Safety Council’s information each week with our employees here in Lima and we will review your message as well. It means a lot to our teams to know that they have the support of our regional executives when it comes to the Zero Harm philosophy and we appreciate you sharing this information.

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    Veleta Jolivet says:

    Thank you for the help static that can be passed along to the staff in daily meets, with the most common injuries.

  • Avatar
    Karin Mann says:

    Safety is not a once a day task for me. I take opportunities daily to communicate safety with Employees, and make it a point to follow the same principles at home, and in other places outside of work.
    We need to ‘live safety’ daily!

  • Avatar

    No harm can happen when a disaster comes if you are truly prepared for it. In order to do so, there are many possible ways to do it. Sometimes, you just have to be aware of your surroundings and learn what else that needs to be fixed first in order to avoid getting it worst and prevent making it more hazardous.


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