It’s just four letters, E – H – S and S, but it covers a lot of ground. Protecting Whirlpool Corporation employees. Helping to preserve the environment. Acting sustainably in our manufacturing and practices and planning. In May, the company welcomed Scott Fergon as the new global head of the Environment, Health, Safety & Sustainability organization, and amidst the backdrop of a global pandemic, he’s gotten to work.
“I really appreciate Whirlpool’s values and commitment to do things right,” said Fergon. “This includes protecting our employees, visitors, contractors and consumers in everything we do. I am proud to be part of an organization with a long commitment to the Environment, Health, Safety and Sustainability.”
Most jobs searches culminate in an onsite interview, but the first time Fergon spent any significant time at our Global Headquarters–having joined the company after work from home protocols were put in place—was as he toured GHQ to audit the safety measures being implemented in a mostly empty building back in June.
We are integrating our work into the designs, material traceability, environmentally friendly and safer material alternatives, and recycled content in our packaging and products, while researching new technologies to improve life at home.
From day one, Fergon had to “hit the ground running” on Whirlpool Corp’s COVID-19 response—getting up to speed on what had been done already, and collaborating cross functionally and with the COVID-19 Task Force on next steps. “One thing that can’t be underestimated is the jump-start Whirlpool got by being an essential manufacturer,” said Fergon. “Very early on in the pandemic, there were safety measures put in place at Whirlpool’s manufacturing sites—social distancing, daily temperature screenings, mask requirements—that are going to be the backbone of our strategy to return the rest of the company to an office environment when that is appropriate.”
Fergon, who is a certified industrial hygienist, recently toured the Whirlpool North American manufacturing sites and got to see the dedicated work of our manufacturing workforce up close. With occupational hygiene training, Fergon is working to anticipate and evaluate how to protect workers from hazards at work—COVID-19 and beyond—that could result in an injury, illness or otherwise impact the health and well-being of our employees.
“Industrial hygiene is the recognition, evaluation and control of risks that could lead to an occupational illness in the workplace. When COVID entered our lives, we have been able to approach it in the same manner we would any potential risk in the workplace,” said Fergon. “We studied what was known about the virus—how it spreads, health effects, ways of controlling the spread, etc.—and then we implemented control measures to minimize the potential exposures in the workplace. That started with enabling remote work where possible. Cleaning and disinfecting protocols were implemented. In addition, screening for potential exposures or symptoms when arriving at our sites was also implemented.”
While the Health and Safety aspects of Fergon’s role are being pushed to the forefront during the pandemic, that doesn’t mean the environmental and sustainability side of his portfolio is on pause. With Whirlpool Corporation’s legacy of environmental stewardship, going back to the tenure of CEO Elisha “Bud’ Gray in 1969, and with “ESG” (Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance) as the new buzz word in investing, Fergon has a laser focus on the company’s sustainability goals—including renewable energy, science based targets for emission reductions, and achieving zero waste to landfills from our manufacturing operations.
“Not only are we making our plants more sustainable, we are partnering with other functions to drive more environmental sustainability into our products,” said Fergon. “We are integrating our work into the designs, material traceability, environmentally friendly and safer material alternatives, and recycled content in our packaging and products, while researching new technologies to improve life at home. We are doing this in utilizing data systems and new design guides and assessment tools throughout a product’s lifecycle from birth to end of life. Finally, we put this all together in a way for our stakeholders to help people understand our work and help us attract new investors, customers, consumers and talent to our organization.”
Fergon joins Whirlpool from automotive components manufacturer Tenneco, where he was in a similar global role. Prior to that, he worked for Eaton Corporation, in a variety of Corporate EHS roles. Scott and his two sons (Preston 25 years, and Ken 22 years) currently live in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
See it all in our sustainability report here.