Securing a record-breaking year
Tony Salvadore shares how Corning teams overcame unprecedented challenges and achieved their best-ever safety record in 2022.
Tony Salvadore loves having conversations about safety standards, the pillars of a successful safety program, and the impressive initiatives being led by Corning’s global safety teams. But as Corning’s corporate director of safety, he also hopes employees never hear from him.
“When you get a call from the safety director, it’s not always good news,” he says. “I don’t want to have to talk to people about accidents and injuries. I’d rather be quietly successful because we were able to prevent injuries altogether.”
In 2022, Tony got his wish.
Despite challenges in locations around the world, Corning ended 2022 with the best safety record in its history. One key measure of success? Reducing the number of employee injuries.
Corning globally applies the United States Occupational Health and Safety Administration standard measuring injuries per 100 people. Last year, only 0.46 employees out of 100 had an injury requiring more than first aid. That’s the lowest percentage Corning’s ever recorded and ranks the company as a world-class safety leader.
“We want people to go home in the same or better condition than they were in when they came to work,” Tony says. “Historically, there were times when our rate was higher than 10 percent, but we’ve had continuous improvement and declined year over year. By all measures, 2022 was the best year ever.”
What’s even more impressive is how Corning achieved the record in the face of numerous challenges: record hiring in many locations, increased production, and continued COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns.
“In the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, we were challenged to maintain our employee and operational health and safety standards,” says Ching-Chu Liu, APAC safety and health manager. “In the first half of the year, we had tremendous business growth in the region, while pandemic controls were being put into place. Later, a shortage of EHS (Environmental, Health, and Safety) professionals made the challenge even more intense.”
Having such staffing in place has been a key driver of Corning’s safety success.
“Every one of our locations has at least one assigned EHS professional who keeps a close eye on the people at their location,” Tony says. “They have built trust with our employees and are able to connect personally with them to keep everyone safe.”
At some locations, this was a 24-hour job.
Four Corning China facilities ran under closed-loop operations for up to 60 days during 2022, due to regulations to limit the spread of COVID-19. This required everyone associated with operations at that location to remain on-site 24/7, explains Wu Dan, manufacturing director for the APAC region.
“Corning holds the highest standards for health and safety, and that extended to the employees living in our factories,” she says. “Our EHS teams developed a protocol to standardize practices during this time, and, as a result, we had no incidents.”
During these challenging times, EHS leaders like Ching-Chu worked diligently to keep employees safe.
“Even with travel restrictions and remote interaction, we strived to be in the plants as much as possible to meet leadership and employees in person,” he says. “We wanted to make sure they knew we cared, while also reinforcing our safety requirements.”
Tony says this kind of employee engagement is critical when implementing effective policies globally.
“We talk to employees to understand what they do every day, because what we think is happening might not be,” he says. “We want to look at risks through the eyes of our employees and prevent accidents before they happen.”
This approach has clearly had a positive impact, but Tony isn’t completely satisfied.
“The fewer accidents we have, the easier it becomes to lose focus and take it for granted that we have such a safe environment,” he says. “But we aren’t quite at zero. We’re going to keep working hard to get us to zero injuries and to stay there going forward.”