Safety & Risk Management


At Sysco and throughout our operating companies, providing a safe and productive work environment for our associates is a core value.

We place a high priority on addressing the root causes of workplace injuries, from revising the ergonomics of our truck cabs and loading ramps to encouraging safer behaviors such as proper lifting techniques and safe driving practices. Our employees receive extensive training and guidance and are expected to follow appropriate work practices.

Several Sysco locations have committed to partner with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) through its Voluntary Protection Program (VPP), which recognizes businesses and worksites demonstrating excellence in occupational safety and health. We have multiple operating facilities that have achieved VPP recognition status. The VPP is designed for exemplary worksites with comprehensive, successful safety and health management systems. These companies have achieved injury and illness rates at or below the national average of their respective industries. These sites are self-sufficient in their ability to control workplace hazards. Our participants are reevaluated every three to five years, although incident rates are reviewed annually and we encourage all Sysco operating companies to work toward readiness to apply for VPP designation. For more information, see Our Accomplishments below.


The safety of our associates, business partners and the public is our number one priority. To achieve this we must have a sustainable culture of safety. This is achieved through the SyscoSafe behavioral management process which promotes the safety of Sysco’s employees, visitors, vendors, contractors, the environment and the general public; and ensures compliance with federal, state, and local regulations. SyscoSafe contains the OSHA VPP elements, including management leadership, employee involvement, work site analysis, hazard prevention and controls, recognition and safety and health training.

Statistically, organizations that implement involvement from all areas experience lower injury rates, fewer accidents, lower costs and improved employee morale. SyscoSafe provides management with the tools to create an environment that fosters a commitment to safety by all employees, at all levels which is vital to the overall and ongoing success of the program. In FY2016 we achieved a 1 percent reduction in injury frequency in our US operations, which equals 33 fewer injuries to our associates.

Sysco is committed to ensuring that each one of our operating locations is supported by a safety lead – a qualified safety professional. In FY2016, we implemented a direct reporting relationship for our safety leads to the operating company president and a dotted line to corporate safety, along with a standardized job description focused on prevention. Safety leads are assessed against the job description and we also require continuing education and the attainment of certain industry certifications. Our team’s certifications and designations include: Certified Safety Professionals, Associates in Risk Management, Associates in Claims, Certified Safety and Health experts, Safety Health & Environmental Professionals and Certified Occupational Health Nurse Specialists. Focusing on prevention through the creation of a safety culture, they provide safety leadership, strategic advice and subject matter expertise to our management teams regarding the implementation and management of safety policies, safety processes, and training.

In addition to dedicated associate resources, Sysco is committed to providing technological solutions designed to improve communication and efficiencies across the organization, thereby increasing the time our management and safety teams can spend effectively engaging with associates to promote safe behaviors. An enhanced risk management informational system will go live in FY2017 and will allow our leadership teams to directly input and track incident investigation and proactive SyscoSafe activities. It will also improve our ability to identify trends and target preventative strategies.

Our Enterprise Risk Management SharePoint site was launched in FY2016. A 24/7 resource available to all Sysco operating companies, the site provides guidance and support through access to training programs, policies and performance reports to identify key areas of focus and promote best practices in managing the workplace health and safety risks facing Sysco associates. The Enterprise Risk Management SharePoint site provides resources, tools and templates in the areas of occupational safety, transportation safety, environmental compliance, security and asset protection, health and wellness, crisis management and emergency response. In FY2017 we will launch our standardized compliance program and risk management information system which will bring new tools for our operating companies to utilize and assist with our SyscoSafe engagement program and support regulatory compliance, along with giving corporate oversight and visibility and oversight into performance.


We continue to perform better than the Bureau of Labor Statistics industry averages for wholesale food distributors for OSHA recordable injuries per 100 employees, and DART (injuries resulting in Days Away/Restricted/Transfer duty). See Performance for more information. Our teams continue to identify the root causes of driving injuries and accidents and implement targeted programs that can drive continuous improvement to achieve our safety goals.

In FY2016, we launched the Safety Continuous Improvement Program and Project 360° (close quarter auto liability accidents) at the local Operating company level. These programs are managed through leadership Steering Committee meetings and focus on initiatives to improve prevention and compliance, management-to-employee engagement regarding safety issues, hazard and root cause identification and correction. In addition, these programs, along with the components of our enterprise-wide SyscoSafe process, will serve as our back-to-basics focus throughout FY2017.

We strive to meet and exceed all regulatory safety standards established by OSHA as well as our internal standards established to promote a safe work environment. Safety incidents that occur are investigated to identify causal factors, develop and implement solutions to prevent their recurrence, and track corrective actions. Our Corporate safety professionals partner with operating companies to train management personnel, assist in the accident investigation process and liaise with regulators including OSHA, Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).


We are proud that Asian Foods and our Northeast RDC locations have joined Sysco North Texas, Sysco Raleigh and Sysco Charlotte in achieving OSHA VPP, STAR or SHARP status. Sysco North Texas achieved VPP recertification in August, 2016, marking its sixth year in the program. In addition, several additional Sysco operating companies will undergo internal VPP audits in FY2017 for pre-approval to apply for VPP.

In FY2016, we expanded our Corporate Field team Safety leadership to assist and develop operating company Safety Leads, SyscoSafe and our Safety Continuous Improvement Plans. With this increased coverage we achieved a 1 percent reduction in our OSHA Recordable Injuries in FY2016, which means 18 fewer injuries.

At the start of the FY15 fiscal year, Sysco Canada committed to a refresh of the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) program across Canada. As part of the three year EHS strategy, Sysco made a conscious decision to significantly invest and commit to a refresh of the EHS program across Canada. This has included a review of safety prevention, abilities management, compliance practices/programs and the effectiveness of execution overall.

Now in its second year of the strategy, significant improvements have been noted on various EHS performance metrics including:

  • A 14% reduction in injury rates year over year.
  • A 48% reduction in Canadian regulatory orders received year over year.
  • Closure of 69% of non-compliance findings from the EHS compliance audit conducted by an external consultant.
  • A 40% increase in Canadian Registered Safety Professionals (CRSP) designation holders amongst the EHS Team.
  • Successful launch of several EHS programs and initiatives (e.g. Canadian EHS policy, EHS bulletins, Distracted Driving campaign).

For our work providing the National Safety Council’s Defensive Driving courses online to our associates and their family members, the National Safety Council named Sysco a Trend Setter for DDC Online in FY2014. This award recognizes employers for their commitment to safety through encouraging participation in a Defensive Driving Course and providing access to Defensive Driving Courses online.


In Sysco’s commitment to excellence within the regulatory compliance area, we continue to expand on our existing monitoring and training solutions. For example, Sysco utilizes a standardized Process Safety Management program with corporate monitoring capabilities. The electronic Process Safety Management program has helped to increase our operating companies’ compliance with various environmental regulations such as OSHA’s 29 CFR 119 and EPA 40 CFR 68 Risk Management Plan, both of which regulate anhydrous ammonia refrigeration systems.

Storm Water compliance has been centralized and is now monitored through E-Compliance, an electronic information tracking, management and reporting program that will increase our ability to audit and correct deficiencies.

Sysco has continued to develop and introduce comprehensive, systematic and detailed training to provide consistency amongst all environmental compliance programs and allow the programs and management to measure and adapt training needs in a coordinated manner. There is an eight part series providing knowledge about multiple EPA regulations and is designed to protect our associates, facilities and the environment. Training webinars are provided at regular intervals targeting regulatory changes and compliance assistance.

We developed an environmental risk ranking system for all Sysco facilities and have completed comprehensive environmental audits at forty-nine of our operating companies. Action plans were developed to address the audit findings, and all identified issues were resolved.


Sysco provides OSHA required training as well as job-specific training for all associates and management. Associates receive health and safety training including effective coaching and engagement training during their initial orientation as well as ongoing, job-specific training. We conduct training through classroom orientation, retraining & recertification, one-on-one retraining and online through Sysco Interactive University.


In FY2014 we completed our multiyear rollout of DriveCam, a two-directional camera system installed in all Sysco vehicles in the U.S. and Canada. DriveCam onboard video and monitoring technology helps reduce vehicle collisions by identifying and addressing risky driving behaviors. This technology helps to prevent injury to drivers and the public and improves compliance with policies and procedures designed to maximize the safe and efficient operation of our vehicles.

DriveCam provides insight into at-risk behaviors that contribute to distracted driving and fatigue-related incidents, many of which are near-miss incidents with no actual accident or damage occurring. Near-miss incidents are used as a training tool to improve driver behavior and provide guidance on steps to avoid distraction and fatigue. Sysco has developed a range of online courses on avoiding distracted driving and handling fatigue. They supplement other training material already in use at our operating locations.

We continue to improve our comprehensive programs to reduce events related to fatigued and drowsy driving. The three-pronged approach includes application of high-visibility hours of service regulation compliance, with weekly reports distributed to all operations groups using Telogis onboard systems. In FY2017 we will launch an associated employee level training program.

In FY2016 we introduced a new Zero Tolerance – Distracted Driving Electronics Policy to reduce our vehicular incidents of using an electronics device while driving Sysco owned equipment. This policy went into effect in FY2017.

In 2013, we centralized the administration of driver qualification files, standardizing program management and file management to ensure compliance with DOT regulations. Corporate management and electronic file maintenance have been centralized for all Broadline, FreshPoint companies and some meat companies, totaling over 9,200 drivers and increasing compliance and efficiency at the operating company level. All FreshPoint companies were included in a consortium for random DOT drug testing. Plans for FY2017 include bringing all other companies onto the centralized electronic driver qualification file system and all companies into centralized DOT drug/alcohol test consortiums. This initiative will increase compliance with required programs and ensure consistent application of the drug/alcohol testing process.


In FY2016, we put additional focus on SyscoSafe to ensure we continue to focus on management and employee engagement. A Weekly Safety Message includes information about SyscoSafe as well as leadership actions that prioritize safety-focused behavior and prevention of unsafe acts and conditions. In addition, we are focused on our Safety Continuous Improvement Plans and corrective action plans. These initiatives are continuing into FY2017 along with the introduction of an employee-based safety recognition program.


Our “License to Lift” (LTL) program, introduced in 2013, continues to be a focus area for our exertion injuries by focusing on proper lifting techniques for warehouse and distribution center associates. Lift champions are identified in each location and receive specialized LTL training, qualifying them to conduct assessments on associate lifting techniques and provide re-training as needed. All current associates and new associates for warehouse and transportation, who manually lift product, remain required to participate in this program. In FY2016 we realized a three percent reduction in back injuries through our ergonomic changes and LTL program.


Sysco participates in a number of industry partnerships to contribute to improved workplace safety and promote safety initiatives. They include the National Safety Council, the Voluntary Protection Program Participation Association, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, the National Private Truck Council, the Texas Motor Transportation Association, International Foodservice Distributors Association, the American Trucking Association and the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses.


We aim to promote a culture of health, wellness and physical activity and provide the necessary programs and initiatives to help our associates lead healthy lives. Daily wellness reminders are issued from safety services via email for communication to associates and drivers in pre-shift meetings and postings on bulletin boards and break areas.  Sites with occupational health nurses, provide health and wellness information to our associates in a variety of venues: lunch and learn seminars, pre-shift meetings, weekly and monthly newsletters, health fairs, and one on one counseling. Health and wellness promotions are conducted on a regular basis by wellness committees, human resources, health services, safety, and management.

Our corporate office in Houston as well as Sysco sites in East Texas, Knoxville, Hampton Roads and Syracuse have been recognized by the American Heart Association as “Fit-Friendly” workplaces since 2012. West Texas was also recognized for the Presidential Active Lifestyle award. Our corporate office has an on-site fitness center (as do many of the operating companies) with certified fitness trainers providing personal training, wellness committees that coordinate  annual health fairs, quarterly fitness challenges and luncheons highlighting information about various health topics.

Occupational Health Nurse Management initiative

In FY2016, Sysco fortified its commitment to the overall health and safety of the associates with the continued support of the occupational health nurse management initiative; hiring seven additional nurses, bringing the total number to 19. Sysco has seen reductions in its injury rates, lost work time and claims cost by addressing factors that contribute to the health of the workforce through focused programs and interventions including: health coaching and counseling, health promotion programs, legal and regulatory compliance, case management, fitness for duty, and injury and illness interventions and prevention programs. This contributes to a more productive workforce and ultimately to a healthier bottom line for Sysco.


Corporate initiatives to improve security operations and capabilities across the enterprise were initiated in 2012 and involved the development of security vulnerability assessments for each facility, as well as individualized security plans. The implementation of a new FDA food defense plan has improved the overall program through the development of site specific plans and mitigation strategies which identify potential vulnerabilities and mitigate those risks.


In early 2016, the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) was created to identify and manage emerging and potential events that may impact our personnel, assets, and business. Through monitoring of events world-wide, including weather, the OEM identifies incidents impacting or possibly impacting our businesses. We are then able to effectively address those incidents through the timely implementation of the Crisis Management Program and provide direct support for the affected businesses. The OEM also manages the Travel Security Program and provides a two-way communication channel with Sysco travelers in order to better assist them with risk and incident awareness, as well as response to those incidents.