This is the 22nd chapter of the 32-part video series “The Montana Ethic Project.” This chapter features Larry Simkins, president and CEO of Missoula-based Washington Companies, discussing the subject, “The Culture of Safety.” You can watch the whole video below. Here is how it begins:
“My name is Larry Simkins. I’m president and CEO of the Washington Companies, based in Missoula. The Washington Companies are a group of companies founded and owned by Dennis Washington that employ over 4,000 people all over the world. The companies that we have do business in the mining industry, marine and rail transportation, shipyards, environmental construction, heavy equipment distribution and aviation products.
“It is those industries that I’m going to talk about today that will provide a basis for my talk: industries with typically high-risk employment.”
Here is another, edited excerpt from Simkins’ presentation:
“So what I want to discuss is our experience in just the last 10 years regarding safety. I’m going to tell you some stories about things we are doing and what is interesting is that during these last 10 years, it has been a period where we were not sitting still: we have reopened the copper mine in Butte, we have started a shipping container company called C-Span Corp that is now the largest supplier of container ships to China, and Modern Machinery based in Missoula has now expanded its service to Russia in an area that is one third of the land mass of the United States. So it has not been a stagnant period where we have had this improvement in our safety; it has been a very dynamic growth period.
“I talked earlier about our private companies, excluding C-Span Corp. They generate about 7 million hours annually with some years in excess of 9 million. In those same 10 years our reportable injuries have declined 69 percent. Let me repeat, our reportable injuries have declined 69 percent in companies that were already performing better than industry average, in a state that supposedly has historically hazardous jobs, and expanded the footprint of the companies all at the same time.
“As I speak, Montana Resources, our mine in Butte, is approaching 1.5 million man hours without a reportable accident. That is in an operation that mines copper around the clock.”
PERC—the Property & Environment Research Center—is a proud sponsor of the Montana Ethic Project. To learn how PERC’s ideas can help us honor one another’s rights to land, water, and wildlife,visit perc.org.
First week: Project introduction.
Third week: Mike Gear on “The Value of Athletics.”
Fourth week: Franke Wilmer on “Gender Equity.”
Fifth week: Gordon Brittan on “The Founding Fathers.”
Eighth week: Chuck Tooley on “The Montana Character.”
Ninth week: Steve Bullock on “Citizens United v. Montana.”
11th week: Bob Rowe on Technological Development.”
13th week: Bruce Smith on “Montana’s Food Economy.”
21st week: Pat Barkey on “The Montana Wage Disparity.”
Next week: Jim Shanley on “Education Reform.”