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Safety Relay

Safety Relay

Promoting Safety Around the Globe

Safety Relay

Promoting Safety Around the Globe

One idea. Hundreds of UPSers. Tens of thousands of miles. And countless ways to stay accident- and injury-free. The UPS Safety Relay started small, but before long, it traveled— literally—around the world, connecting UPS employees with a message of camaraderie and teamwork. Learn about the challenge that has taken the UPS world by storm.


Where did the idea come from?

Jeremy Giles, a package car driver from Tempe, Arizona, was at home one night and saw an ad involving a relay baton. That led to a flash of inspiration: what if UPS had a “safety baton?” He and fellow driver Rod Palmer got to talking, met with their local safety committee, and the idea snowballed to become the UPS Safety Relay. UPS would create a set of batons to pass from one location to the next. When a location was holding a baton, they would be challenged to step up safety mentoring and training to operate accident- and injury-free.

“It’s like I was given a vision,” Giles says. “I know it sounds crazy, but I don’t know how else to put it.” What he didn’t expect was just how inspiring the challenge would be.

How did they get the word out?

Giles took to Twitter to reach UPS teams around the world. He created a handle for his center and began tagging his posts with the #UPSSafetyRelay hashtag. It turned out to be the perfect platform for communicating quickly and sharing widely. UPSers who wanted to participate reached out to Giles on Twitter. As the relay gained momentum, the social component helped capture interest across the world. Soon, Giles was receiving messages from facilities in Europe and Asia, asking when they could take a turn. Anyone following along could easily share and interact with the hashtag—which generated nearly 5 million impressions.


How did the challenge work?

The Tempe facility purchased six batons, and the first six facilities to respond to Giles’s rallying cry on Twitter got to kick off the relay. As other facilities joined in, Giles created a map of where the batons would travel. Each facility kept a baton for one week, during which they were challenged to go “0/0,” meaning zero auto accidents and zero injuries.

Throughout the week, the group took pictures with their baton and shared photos and videos of local safety training activities. Finally, each work group that successfully achieved 0/0 had their name etched on the baton.

Where did the batons travel?

Beyond visiting all 50 U.S. states and 30 other countries, UPS employees had fun photographing the batons in their workplaces and near local landmarks. Batons went surfing in Hawaii, hiking on the Appalachian Trail, and on a visit to the Washington Monument. They visited Russia’s Red Square and temples in Indonesia. Northwest District Health & Safety Manager Mike McGuire was the first to break the international barrier, passing the baton at the Peace Arch Monument on the U.S.-Canada border.

But one of the most meaningful destinations was when McGuire took the baton to UPS founder Jim Casey’s desk, on display at the district office in Seattle, Washington. “That one made me cry a little,” Giles says. “I know Jim would have been proud.”

Baton and truck

What was the impact?

The UPS Safety Relay accomplished much more than promoting employee safety for a week. It ignited a cultural shift that has brought teams everywhere closer together. “People tell me they’ve never seen so much teamwork in their work groups,” Giles says. “Walls have fallen and barriers are broken between hourly workers and management, and that’s great to see.”

Knowing the world was following along on social media also created a sense of pride. Many long-time drivers created Twitter accounts just to follow along and find photos to show their families. “Drivers came to see the relay as a badge of honor, and seeing photos from across the world opened people’s eyes to how big our team really is,” says Darren Sinden, Prairie Division Safety Supervisor, UPS Canada.

What do UPSers say?

It came from the drivers, which is the beauty of the whole thing. They’re out there every day driving, lifting packages, pushing their bodies, and they’re a great example of the safety culture we should all strive for.

Mike Zakely Health & Safety Director Tempe, Arizona

I love seeing that no matter where we’re from, we’re built on the same foundation, and we’ve got a lot in common.

Hope McMahon Package Car Driver Dermott, Arkansas

People call to thank me, but all I did was have the idea. It’s the people on the ground who are making this happen. UPSers are innovative, and they keep coming up with new ways to show the batons and keep the excitement, all while working and driving safely.

Jeremy Giles Package Car Driver Tempe, Arizona

Advocating for Safer Roads for All

UPS is now passing the baton of safety beyond the reaches of our company. At the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2019, UPS joined the Global Road Safety Initiative, designed to improve global road safety across a broad spectrum of issues, including driver training, pedestrian safety, and two-wheeler helmet use, in collaboration with WEF and the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile. The partnership will advocate for road safety legislation, improved data collection, and safer vehicles and infrastructure. For example, in India, where 10 percent of the world’s road traffic fatalities occur, support from UPS and The UPS Foundation will provide helmets for youth in New Delhi, as well as other road safety programming and expertise sharing. The initiative forms a new cornerstone in UPS’s ongoing focus on all areas of road safety.

Parked UPS trucks

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