GE is committed to having a world-class program for managing environmental, health and safety (EHS) risks. GE’s commitment begins with its Board of Directors, which regularly reviews the Company’s environmental and safety performance. GE’s vice president for EHS, in turn, sets global EHS policy, implements EHS strategy and reviews the EHS performance of individual GE business units.
GE has learned that the way to deliver strong EHS performance is through operational ownership. Operational ownership means that GE holds its site, project and service managers accountable for the safety and environmental integrity of the operations they supervise. GE’s EHS professionals support and guide its safety and compliance programs, but the Company expects its operations managers to take the lead.
GE ensures operational commitment through: (1) regular reviews of managers’ EHS performance; (2) comprehensive EHS audits conducted by an independent central governance team; (3) in-depth classroom EHS training for new managers; and (4) feedback surveys in which employees anonymously evaluate their managers’ EHS commitment.
GE tracks EHS metrics and reviews performance in three ways. First, we track EHS data in real time using our best-in-class Gensuite® IT tool (described in more detail below). Second, senior leaders within each of GE’s businesses regularly conduct internal EHS operating reviews of each of their facilities. Third, at a corporate level, GE conducts periodic strategic reviews of EHS risks and strategies.
EHS Training for Managers
All GE operations leaders are required to complete one of the Company’s flagship EHS courses, Plant Manager Training (PMT) or Service Manager Training (SMT). During these two-day courses, GE trains new plant and service managers on the Company’s EHS expectations and on tactics for delivering EHS results. PMT and SMT also teach risk-identification skills through tabletop exercises derived from real-world case studies. In 2016, GE conducted training for 338 plant managers and 644 service managers.
Operational ownership requires trust and partnership between site leaders and employees. That’s why GE conducts periodic, anonymous EHS-perception surveys at selected sites. These surveys ask employees questions designed to measure their engagement, their views of EHS performance at their workplace and their impressions of their managers’ EHS commitment. We hold operations leaders accountable for the survey results.
A total of 91 sites are recognized by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) with Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) and Merit and Star certifications accounting for a total of 2 and 89, respectively. Currently, 326 and 249 sites are certified under the International Organization for Standardization, Environmental Management System (ISO 14001) and Occupational Health & Safety Assessment Specification (OHSAS 18001), respectively, to satisfy customer needs. The acquisition of Alstom has added 198 ISO 14001 and 175 OHSAS 18001 sites to the overall totals.
Our EHS Continuous Improvement Strategy
GE has long been a leader in the field of EHS strategy and systems. Our approach to continuous improvement includes a risk-based, integrated EHS framework tool, predictive EHS analytics, progressive risk-reduction techniques, product lifecycle assessment and robust governance systems. Here are a few examples:
EHS Management System
The EHS Management System is composed of a number of programs and management tools which work together to provide an environmental management system utilized throughout GE. One of the core components of the system is GE’s EHS Framework, a risk-based tool which the sites use to identify the type of organization and the elements with which they are required to comply. The tool helps sites identify potential risks, provides guidance and customizes EHS expectations to an organization’s operations and hazards.
GE obtains ISO 14001:2015 attestation statement from Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance Limited (LRQA)
In October 2017, for the second year in a row, GE received an attestation statement from LRQA indicating that our overarching environmental management system at GE meets the intent of the newly revised ISO 14001:2015 standard. This conformance statement is a milestone for GE as it is the first time an external registrar has reviewed and tested our EHS management system to assess alignment with an international EHS standard applied company-wide.
GE expects to be a top 10 software company by 2020 and is already the world’s leading digital industrial company. The emerging disruptive technologies and analytics that GE is developing and adopting present opportunities for improved EHS performance. To address these issues, GE created an organization called “Digital EHS” in 2015 and tasked it with taking advantage of, and preparing for the impact of, disruptive digital technologies.
Product Life Cycle Center of Excellence
GE’s technical resource for product life cycle evaluation is the Ecoassessment Center of Excellence (COE). For more than eight years, the COE has been applying its expertise in life cycle management (LCM) and life cycle assessment (LCA). For more see Product Life Cycle.
Centralized EHS Auditing
GE’s approach to auditing reinforces the Company’s open reporting culture. GE views audit findings as critical to improving operational performance and to learning about the gaps in the Company’s EHS programs. As a result, we reward—not discourage—audit findings. To drive this philosophy, GE created a centralized EHS auditing function in 2015. While our operations continue to conduct probing self-audits, this centralized team promotes our “find it and fix it” culture, standardizing expectations around the globe and identifying risk areas that our operations may not recognize.
Findings are tracked to closure, and patterns are used to identify the need for expertise, program enhancement and support for additional execution. In 2016, the team focused on assessing key risk areas for the Company using heat maps and validated the strength of protections against significant hazards. At GE, EHS auditing is considered a great mechanism for competency development, and, in addition to the central team, over 200 EHS professionals participated in the audit process.
GE’s supplier-review process relies on the participation of organizations across the Company. Global sourcing leaders and team members from each GE business oversee execution of inspections, enforcement of findings and reporting of metrics. Please see Monitoring & Evaluation program for more on supplier audits.
IT Systems and Data Analytics
GE uses the Gensuite® software system to track hundreds of EHS data points at sites around the world in real time. The system is granular enough to identify maintenance delays for an individual valve at a chemical plant, for instance, while also comprehensive enough to aggregate data across GE businesses and regions. In the last two years, GE developed real-time data-visualization tools that have allowed us to use our EHS data to enhance our focus on our highest-risk operations. In addition, we conducted several deep-dive and predictive analyses of high-impact event types that led to significant changes in our management system priorities.
EHS and Our Customers
GE’s customers often conduct high-risk operations in challenging environments. GE is committed to helping these business partners deliver on their own EHS performance expectations by meshing our EHS systems with theirs. We have found that this is the best way to deliver results. And, while we believe that GE’s EHS systems give us competitive advantages, they are too important to treat as trade secrets or expensive products. We frequently offer our systems to customers and third parties; everyone wins when we keep people and the environment safe.