2021 Safety Advocate Award Winner - National Safety Council

Nutrien AG Solutions Wins Green Cross Safety Advocate Award

Sponsored by First Group

At Nutrien Ag Solutions, about 4,000 workers across 600 locations handle close to 1 million tons of anhydrous ammonia each year within its North American retail network. Average capacity of a nurse wagon to transport NH3 to a grower’s field is 3 tons, and workers perform well over 500,000 process connections per year. This presents a lot of opportunities for exposure to an extremely hazardous product and the potential for serious injuries or fatalities.

After several exposure incidents occurred in a short time, the Nutrien Ag Solutions Safety, Health and Environment Team revamped its anhydrous ammonia training. The team consulted stakeholders, enlisted subject matter experts and involved front-line workers to create the new Anhydrous Ammonia Operating Standard. Nine modules were created, and the team is now looking at advanced topics.

To date, 17,025 modules have been completed by 2,029 employees. Since implementation in July 2020, Nutrien Ag Solutions has not had any incidents involving exposure to anhydrous ammonia with a worker who has completed the new training program.

Meet the Other Finalists

James McGovern

As a safety expert, James McGovern understands recordable injuries and near-miss incidents are all too common. While working at a Texas-based petrochemical plant, a safety audit of the previous three years' recordable injuries revealed injured workers were not paying attention or not focused on the job at hand in 75% of the 25 cases.

Mental focus training is commonly taught to police officers and military personnel involved in tactical operations. As officers engage in tasks throughout the day, they can shift mental focus levels from wide to narrow as needed to safely respond to calls. McGovern taught this training at the Chicago Police and Fire Training Academy and decided to train the workers at the petrochemical plant the same technique. 

The Texas plant incorporated these skills into employee onboarding and post-incident retraining, and all existing employees were trained in early 2018. At the end of 2018, the Texas plant had only two recordable injuries, a 75% decrease over the previous three years and the lowest in the history of the plant. The system was incorporated in other locations, and other organizations, including Phillips 66, the Brock Group and the International Union of Operating Engineers (Local 150), have since adopted it.

Houston Health Department

In 2020, as area hospitals neared capacity and public confusion over COVID-19 increased, the Houston Health Department quickly stepped in to manage the crisis. By partnering with 26 municipal departments, the county health department, six major healthcare systems and over 40 external partners, the Houston Health Department campaign was able to reach citizens with life-saving information. The department also integrated infection prevention into all operations, affecting 2.31 million Houstonians.

These efforts made a huge impact on the city’s public health, economy, healthcare infrastructure and more. The operation required subject matter expertise, strong alliances, effective emergency response, well-timed advice and consultation, continuous marketing and communication. The department deployed epidemiologists, virus testing and vaccination operations, personal protective equipment and respiratory protection programs and more to stop the spread of COVID-19.