EHS Leaders: A Passion for Caring (The 2019 HSE Post-Summit Report)

HSE executives from NASA, Talos Energy, FDNY share industry Insight at the 2019 executive Health, Safety and Environment Summit.

The Summit Challenges

When it comes to keeping the American workforce safe, EH&S leaders face many challenges—from best practices in utilizing digital technologies to adopting a safety culture mindset to risk planning and preventing injuries at the source.

An effective EHS sector leader must possess many skills in order to be successful, but I would argue, the most important of these is a passion for caring. Any injury or death on your watch cuts deep. It’s personal. That’s what drives you to do better.

As we gathered in Houston for our HSE Insight Summit in March to discuss health, safety, environmental tech and the tools that are making it happen, that passion for caring was revealed. Take former NASA astronaut and 6-time space traveler Jim Wetherbee who delivered our keynote address, “Controlling Risk in a Dangerous World” who said: “take this back to your workforce, the human experience, if we’re thinking about our buddies, if I can save my buddy, then save the hardware or company property and then save the mission. If you look at it in that order, humans can achieve greatness, but your buddies have to come first.”

”One of the challenges we have is trying to make sure everyone is doing the right thing when no one is watching.” - Alex M. Milley, TraPac

We began our summit examining the challenges you are all faced with. Our roundtable moderators were the first to share. Steve Trickel of Zachry Group led the session on best practices in adopting and utilizing EHS digital tech. Steve explained how Zachry Group is leveraging technology to get supervisors back where they are needed most: “Digital technology is allowing…people to get back out in the field and have a presence…AWP studies have shown on average construction leaders spend only 17% of their time with their crews…I think we all know that has to be much higher.”

Full Keynote

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Watch the full keynote now, by Jim Wetherbee, a former Naval Aviator, astronaut and author.

Injury Prevention: Shifting Mindsets

For Cliff Roberts of Frank’s International the challenge surrounds getting supervisors to adopt a different mindset when it comes to preventing injuries. “Supervisors tend to focus on how to prevent the injury and that takes it to another level which is PPE, not looking at the hierarchy of controls, so the challenge is getting supervisors to understand if you prevent the incident then the injury never occurs.”

For Alex Milley of Trapac: “One of the challenges we have is trying to make sure everyone is doing the right thing when no one is watching. We have a floating workforce, a good portion of our folks are people who are showing up for the first time, who have never seen our facility before. So how do you take a tractor driver with 18 story cranes moving extremely heavy containers, how do you make sure they’re being safe, even when you’re not watching?”

”One of the challenges we have is trying to make sure everyone is doing the right thing when no one is watching.” - Alex M. Milley, TraPac

Our solution providers and workshop leaders offered insight on how to solve these and many other challenges. Here are a few highlights:

Robert Sheninger of Talos Energy explored how his partnership with UL Group has allowed Talos to put safety practice information in video form to reach staff out in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. The tailored made videos have taken training to a new level that is easily delivered and improving the learning experience.

But Talos isn’t stopping there as Robert told us: “The next step in safety training we are looking at is augmented reality and gamification, it’s all going to make the learning experience more interesting and ensure we are equipping our crews with the best and most impactful way to learn how to be safe.”

”The next step in safety training we are looking at is augmented reality and gamification.”- Robert Sheninger, Talos Energy

Tech-Streamlined Processes

HSE manager at Solvay, Carrie Harding, shared how a partnership using HSE management software by Gensuite is helping Solvay streamline operations, achieve regulatory compliance and boost productivity. The data they received from employees is also helping them target major housekeeping gaps and issues—data that is helping them promote operational excellence.

“We're going to need translators, people that can speak sub-surface and those who can speak machines and look at code and be able to bridge the two together.” - Jim Claunch, Equinor

The Multigenerational Workforce

In our EHS Megatrends panel, the discussion focused around technology, talent in HSE, sustainability and keeping a multi-generational workforce safe. By 2015, 50% of the workforce will be made up of millennials and EH&S leaders are challenged with engaging teams as well as how to transfer knowledge.

As Michelle Garner-Janner of Cummins shared: “One of the biggest things we have seen is the way millennials take in information, their preference is to receive information in small bites, not in big bites or powerpoint presentations but small bites and therefore we’ve been making our communications more visual, it’s more graphic and less information but in a more effective manner.”

As you explored solutions to your challenges, I interviewed a few of you about your summit experience. Senior EH&S manager at Amazon, Monika Buchanan told me: “We are always looking for opportunities for improvement, which may pertain to technology, may pertain to training, risk identification, mitigation strategies and techniques and this is one of the reasons I enjoy coming here in this intimate setting, to have the opportunity to interact with individuals who can offer solutions and I can do the same.”

Mike Meyers, Chief of Safety, FDNY told me: “There’s a lot of risk in our line of work and we just try to mitigate that risk as best we can through procedures and equipment, wearables and also educating our folks as well, it’s really about finding the best practices everyone is using and then trying to implement them when we get back to our jobs.”

Join us at the Next HSE Insight Summit

We here at GDS Group host experts to help experts. We hope we provided you with an atmosphere which will allow you to confidently lead your companies through your biggest and smallest transformation projects. I have no doubt when it comes to the environment, health and safety, the American workforce is in good hands. Your passion for caring is what will drive you toward success. I look forward to working with all of you again soon at one of the upcoming HSE Insight Summits…and stay safe!


GDS Group hosts experts to help experts. We strive to provide an atmosphere for our attendees that enables them to confidently lead their companies through major transformation projects. For information on upcoming events, view our Technology Summits and Executive Events. To remain current on our activities, visit GDS Group on LinkedIn Facebook | Twitter.