CEO Update: A New Era of Supply Chain Worker Safety Is Rising

If 2020 has taught us anything it is that the health and safety of our workers and all our stakeholders must be our top priority.

For me, the pandemic reinforced my sense of our common humanity, our responsibility to each other. It’s in times of crisis like these that leaders reveal their true commitment to workers and corporate social responsibility.

As Winston Churchill famously said: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” This year has delivered a wealth of opportunities for supply chain practitioners and organizations to embrace Mr. Churchill’s wisdom.

While safety has always been a priority in our industry, the pandemic has added additional layers to safety and health protocols that are now necessary. Personal protective equipment, social distancing measures, deep cleaning protocols, sanitization stations, temperature checks, flexible work schedules, staggered work shifts, and adjusted facility floor plans are now all on the table as tools to put worker safety first.

Leading firms are accepting the challenge to do all of the above to ensure worker safety. They are also implementing robotics and automation solutions and other emerging technologies to further assist in worker safety and operational efficiency during these unprecedented times. In fact, MHI’s third “U.S. Roadmap on Material Handling Logistics: Transformation Age” includes a COVID-19 section that details how the adoption of these technologies is accelerating due to this crisis. You can learn more at

Putting safety first requires leadership from the top and a clear, multipronged approach with strong communications programs. For safety programs to work, it takes a culture of collaboration, consensus and adherence across the extended value chain of internal stakeholders, suppliers and sub-contractors.

MHI is supporting this collaboration at our ProMat expo next April. ProMat 2021 will feature a new Robotics & Automation Solution Center and, like in your own operations, we are dedicated to the safety and health of all our attendees. That is why plans are underway for unprecedented safety measures including social distancing, health checks as well as hybrid and digital show offerings. You can learn more and register to attend at

In closing, I would like to thank all of you for the role you have in making our industry so great. This is my last CEO Update as I am moving on to the next chapter of my journey. I have been humbled and honored to be a part of the leadership of this industry. I want to thank the MHI Team, for they are the champions that live the mission of providing member value every day. To the Board of Governors, thank you for being such a big part of the vision and your unwavering support of the team.

To John Paxton, a great leader who will take over the CEO role on January 1, 2021, I wish Godspeed as you take the organization and industry to the next level.

Wishing all of you the best with your individual journey.

George W. Prest

Chief Executive Officer, MHI

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