DuPont, the chemical company that developed Teflon, Kevlar and other ubiquitous materials, received the 2013 Robert W. Campbell Award during the opening session of the National Safety Congress and Expo in Chicago.

Now in its 10th year, the Campbell Award goes to organizations that integrate EHS management with business operations as a cornerstone of their success, according to the National Safety Council.

"Safety is a culture that has to be nurtured and reinforced," DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman told attendees during the award presentation on Monday. "Each generation inherits a safety heritage of those who came before them, but then it becomes our responsibility to expand on that and to take it to the next level."

Safety and health has been a core value for Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont throughout its 200-plus-year history, Kullman explained.

In her remarks at the National Safety Congress, Kullman highlighted a few of DuPont's recent efforts to "enhance our performance in safety and keep it at the leading edge."

Last year, DuPont conducted a companywide safety-perception survey. More than 95 percent of the company's 64,000 employees around the world responded to the survey, according to Kullman.

DuPont then tasked its operations leaders to develop plans that address the concerns and suggestions noted in the survey responses.

"Those plans have been implemented, and we're reaping the benefit from them today," Kullman said.

To recognized outstanding safety performance throughout the company, DuPont recently created the E.I. du Pont Safety Excellence Medal.

DuPont's James River facility near Richmond, Va., received the first medal in 2011. At the time, the plant had made it 18 years without an incident-related recordable injury and 30 years without a lost-workday injury.

"It's a small sulfuric-acid site that only has 32 employees, but they had a big safety vision," Kullman said.

"When I visited the plant, the thing that stood out to me was when they talked about safety, they said it was a choice and a choice that they make every single day."

She explained that the facility put a unique spin on a longtime DuPont EHS slogan – "the goal is zero" – changing it to "a choice of zero."

"That demonstrated their personal commitment to zero incidents in safety and, for that matter, to all of our core values," Kullman said.

Inspired by the plant's philosophy toward safety, DuPont earlier this year changed its EHS slogan from "the goal is zero" to "committed to zero," she noted.

"It's a reminder that no matter how long we've been focused on safety, there are new ways of thinking about our goals, new ways of motivating our teams and new ways of performing more effectively," Kullman said.