Safety: soaring to new heights

Safety: soaring to new heights

When HSE Excellence Europe started ten years ago, it attracted a handful of attendees. In stark contrast, this year’s event enticed just under 200 delegates – and they truly represented the who’s who of the global SHEQ fraternity. CHARLEEN CLARKE joined them in Frankfurt

It was like the United Nations of SHEQ professionals; speakers and delegates descended on Frankfurt from all corners of the globe to attend the tenth HSE Excellence Europe.

When I asked Andrew Sharman, chief executive of RyderMarshSharman and SHEQ MANAGEMENT columnist, why the conference was so popular and successful, his response was swift: “The chairman is quite brilliant.”

Safety: soaring to new heightsSharman’s answer was somewhat tongue in cheek – because he was the chairman, and yes he was sensational, but so, too, were the speakers, who, with one or two exceptions, were highly qualified, knowledgeable and competent presenters. When you couple those speakers to the brightest brains in the SHEQ world … in the form of the delegates … well, the recipe for success is obvious.

The theme of HSE Excellence Europe this year was: “Beyond the plateau: visible HSE leadership by all”. Malc Staves, global health and safety director for L’Oréal, France (already featured on page 2 of this issue), and Dr Iain Anderson, global audit and standardisation manager for environment health and safety at Molson Coors, USA, did a particularly good job of unpacking the subject matter.

Anderson made me giggle when he told delegates: “We were locked in a room at a brewery for 12 weeks and we came up with a new environmental, health and safety (EHS) strategy.” Shame, I do hope they were let out for food and bathroom breaks …

On a serious note, Anderson said that Molson Coors aims for “zero harm for people and the environment”. In order to achieve this, it came up with a strategy called “Safety the Molson Coors Way”, which incorporates four elements: Step, Speak, Care and Search.

Dr Iain Anderson, global audit and standardisation manager for environment health and safety at Molson Coors, is keen on the workforce assuming responsibility for safety.“’Step’ is all about engaging with people, using a checklist. Everyone has to receive a safety conversation once a month. ‘Speak’ focuses on professional, two-way communication. It is about speaking to employees on a regular basis about relevant topics and getting feedback, as well.

“‘Care’ is our post-injury approach; we want to get people back to work in good shape as quickly as possible. ‘Search’ is a tool for safety investigations; we need to establish the root cause of an accident,” Anderson explained.

The strategy has been massively successful. “From 2012 to 2015, incidents dropped by two thirds! Our audit scores are improving and our leading indicators are green. So, all we need to do is keep on doing what we have been doing and we will be at zero by 2020 – right? No. A plateau will be coming – we know this and we have to plan accordingly,” he explained.

As such, the company is mindful that it needs to improve – constantly. “We need to implement and maintain a strong EHS management control system. By engaging and educating the workforce, we will build a pre-requisite capability for them to take responsibility for their own safety and for that of others,” Anderson said.

This will go hand in hand with a culture of self-improvement. “We will sustain and further improve our performance and our culture by progressively transferring ownership for safety into work teams when they are ready to accept that responsibility.

Brian Darlington, group head of safety and health at Mondi, stressed that safety has to come from the heart.“We want sites to own their own improvement, rather than us coming along and auditing them. They need to be able to diagnose their weaknesses themselves,” he noted.

Brian Darlington, group head of safety and health, Mondi Austria, also spoke about the importance of taking responsibility. He made safety really personal and it was clear throughout his presentation that safety is very close to his heart.

“Becoming a leader in HSE is a journey with many twists and turns, highs and lows. You will only be successful if zero harm is a personal value, and a passion,” he noted.

Darlington undertook a really interesting exercise at the conference. He asked us all to raise our hands and then he asked eight questions. If our answer to a question was no, we had to drop our hand.

These are the questions:

* Have I had a safety contact session with someone in the past two weeks?

* Do I promote “safe work” at all times?

* Have I ignored an at risk behaviour in the past two weeks?

* Do I always wear my seatbelt and require others to wear theirs, too?

* Do I use my mobile when I am driving?

* Do I always hold the handrail when I walk down the stairs?

* Do I listen to the safety briefing on the aeroplane?

* Do I always read the emergency rules behind the door?

Incredibly, only two delegates had their hands raised at the end. “At times, our behaviour does not match up to our values – even when we are committed to safety!” Darlington noted.

Bearing this in mind, he said it was essential for everyone to work on their habits. “Then, whatever we do, we will do it automatically,” he explained.

He also stressed that safety had to come from the heart. “Are you, as a manager, being believed? That is so important! You need to practise safety from the heart. You need to do it because you care.

“You need to treat your colleagues like your family. At home you are dealing with people you love. At work you are dealing with people who other people love,” he urged.

In conclusion, Darlington alluded to Gandhi, who said: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” He brought this closer to home: “Be the change you wish to see in your organisation!” he urged. Hear, hear!

They said it

“Our business is exploding from a capacity point of view. Oh dear, ‘exploding’ is a bad word at a health and safety conference. I think I should rather say that it’s ‘expanding’ …”
Kieran Phelan, global health and safety director at William Grant and Sons Distillers

“Our first step in developing our EHS policy was to ask the question: how can we kill somebody?”
Malc Staves, global health and safety director for L’Oréal, France

“We don’t improve health and safety on its own. We improve the way we do business.”
Alastair Davey, global vice president health safety and environment, Sodexo, France

“There is a wide-eyed optimism that work that is planned is actually done. In reality, you will find people not following procedure and failing to do logical things.”
John Waters, global managing partner, sustainable safety at ERM, UK

“We have to be passionate about what we do. If we are, we will instil the same passion for health and safety within our companies.”
Brian Darlington, group head of safety and health, Mondi Austria

“We do safety because it is the right thing to do, not because of any monetary benefit.”
Malc Staves

“Engaged employees will go the extra mile for safety.”
Dr Iain Anderson, global audit and standardisation manager for environment health and safety at Molson Coors, USA

“Most organisations are good at sign posting, but not at practical training when it comes to emergency procedures. We’re very good at producing a list of actions, but not at demonstrating that they work.”
Madeleine Abas, senior partner at Osborn Abas Hunt, UK

“The big challenge is to change the mindset of leaders who have not dealt with fatalities.”
Brian Darlington

“How do we demystify safety so that leaders can concentrate on strategy?”
Anthony Wareham, head of health, safety and security at Royal Philips, The Netherlands

“We do safety walks. We get senior leaders onto our sites, to experience safety (or a lack thereof) first-hand.”
Alastair Davey, global vice president health safety and environment, Sodexo, France

“Good business is good safety. It is not an add-on that you take at certain times.”
Brian Darlington

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Malc Staves, corporate health and safety director of L'Oréal, is passionate about improving safety.
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