Make a Positive Impact with EHS Excellence: Q&A with Jim Schonhoff, Cargill

November 02, 2017

In this in-depth interview series, speakers and attendees from Enablon’s offer fresh insights about environmental, health and safety (EHS) management, risk and resilience. Jim Schonhoff is a project leader at Cargill, a global food, agriculture, financial and industrial products corporation. In this post, Schonhoff shares how his company’s no-impact approach turned “zero” into a positive number, and how successful EHS management helped Cargill receive “” award at SPF Americas 2017:

At SPF Americas 2017, Enablon Co-CEO Phil Tesler announced the company’s new mission, which extends “enabling the sustainable company” toward “enabling the positive company”. Cargill was honored with “The Positive Company of the Year” award. What does this distinction mean to you?

It is an honor to receive this recognition. This aligns with our commitment at Cargill to a ZERO harm culture throughout our operations and supply chains. The concept of ZERO harm is not limited to any one function, or one Cargill business, but encompasses all areas of safety up and down the supply chain. It means protecting our employees and contractors, consumers of our products, communities where we operate, and our environment. ZERO harm is at the heart of Cargill’s purpose to be the leader in nourishing the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way.

How does EHS management software help Cargill perform as a positive company?

There are multiple areas where EHS management software has helped us perform more positively. The ability to see data across multiple geographies and businesses has helped to more easily share common risks and opportunities, as well as create focus for improvement in the critical areas. In addition, it has given our leaders visibility to real-time data, and that’s helping them ask meaningful, constructive questions focused on EHS improvement. Having this visibility helps leaders ensure resources are available and that teams are equipped to do timely event reporting and thorough investigations.

Another positive area is the consistency that the EHS management system brings in being able to implement standardized data collection and workflow processes for event management and investigations in the EHS space, ensuring locations are properly addressing critical areas. With a large company and multiple businesses in multiple geographies, it is critical to have standardized, consistent processes.

You have said that information is a gift, as it points out risks and opportunities for growth. What features in your EHS solutions do you rely on to give you quality data to support your decision-making?

One of the gifts we have quickly realized with the EHS management system is the reporting and sharing of Near Miss events. The EHS application and standardized data collection and classification have more readily enabled us to capture these events and categorize them into common causes according to our SIF (Serious Injury and Fatality) criteria that is part of our SIF prevention program, launched in 2012. Precursors of SIFs can be identified and measured if you have the process and the tools that enable such efforts. With this data we can quickly see trends and concerns that help us communicate and take action to focus on the highest-risk areas at every location. The reporting of every SIF-Potential Near Miss is a gift that gives us a second chance to take the proper actions to reduce/eliminate hazards that our team members are exposed to, before an incident occurs.

Cargill just published its third report on the progress and achievements of the Cargill Cocoa Promise. Your company’s stated ambition is “to accelerate progress towards a transparent global cocoa supply chain, to enable cocoa farmers and their communities to achieve better incomes and living standards, and to deliver a sustainable supply of cocoa and chocolate products – from tree crop to end-product.” How does EHS excellence support this mission?

ZERO harm is deeply tied to our philosophy on environmental responsibility and our commitment to be the most sustainable source of goods and services. It is at the heart of our purpose to nourish the world safely, responsibly and sustainably. And it’s why we focus on environmental stewardship throughout our supply chains, whether that’s cocoa, soy, palm, cotton, beef, etc. While we are extremely proud of our sustainability efforts across the company, we know there is still much more to do. Being recognized by a key partner helps us know we are on the right track, and we remain focused on helping to make the world better for future generations.

From creation through delivery of our products, EHS excellence is critical to our long-time efforts to reduce waste, improve efficiencies, increase our use of renewables and improve our environmental footprint. We also are committed to complying with all environmental regulations and to eliminating our impact on local environments by eliminating accidents.

What advice can you offer to EHS managers to help their companies along their digital transformation journey?

I’ll offer four pieces of advice:

First, keep the end-user in the forefront. The tools deployed should ideally add more value to the locations you operate than create more work.

Second, do not ask for data that does not add value or allow you to identify opportunities to take action; collecting data takes time and must add value.

Third, leaders must be prepared to be shocked and surprised by the data that will be made visible, and they must be prepared to respond positively to locations that report the events that truly help us identify the risks our team members are experiencing in their work environment. If we are going to drive change through data collection and data analytics, we have to respond positively to what is reported, even it makes us uncomfortable.

Finally, change management and communication are critical to success.

How do events such as SPF Americas support them in this process?

The SPF events have been positive in helping us learn from other companies via the presentations, discussions and breakout sessions. Hearing other companies’ journeys, challenges and successes has helped us adjust along the way to make our own deployment more successful. In addition, we appreciate being able to give feedback to Enablon on product and application improvements, because that helps us improve user adoption of applications and data collection. Lastly, knowing where Enablon is going with development and support advancements allows us to plan accordingly for continued product upgrades and new modules.

Keep following Enablon Insights for new posts part of the SPF interview series, and be sure to check out other posts from the series.

Do you want to improve EHS management in your organization through software? Download the Verdantix Green Quadrant EHS Software 2017 report to learn more about market trends and compare the top 20 EHS software suppliers.

Verdantix Green Quadrant EHS Software 2017