Activities to Align Operational and EHS Leadership

April 29 2024
By: Shawn M. Galloway

Aligning operational leadership and environmental, health, and safety (EHS) leadership is crucial for overall business success. Organizations can create a more effective team feeling and joint accountability between these two essential functions by fostering collaboration, mutual understanding, and a shared commitment to safety and excellence. Several activities have proven effective in achieving this alignment and enhancing the partnership between operational and EHS leaders.

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Several methods have worked well to foster collaboration, mutual understanding, and a shared commitment to safety and business excellence between operational and EHS leadership by actively involving both groups in practical exercises and discussions.

  • Interactive Safety Training: Conduct hands-on safety training sessions that involve both operational and safety leadership, fostering collaboration and shared understanding of safety protocols.

  • Scenario-Based Exercises: Create realistic and relevant safety scenarios and facilitate discussions among operational and safety leaders on addressing and preventing potential safety issues.

  • Cross-Functional Teams: Form cross-functional teams comprising operational and safety leaders to work together on safety-related projects or challenges that encourage collaboration and exchange of insights.

  • Joint Safety Walks and Inspections: Organize joint safety walks and inspections where operational and safety leaders assess workplace conditions together, discuss findings, and collaborate on solutions to improve safety.

  • Case Studies: Present case studies of successful safety initiatives in similar industries and discuss how these lessons can be applied to your company.

  • Group Discussions and Workshops: Facilitated group discussions on safety culture, emphasizing the role of both operational and safety leadership in shaping and promoting a culture of safety excellence.

  • Role-Playing Exercises: Use role-playing exercises to simulate safety-related scenarios, allowing leaders to practice communication, decision-making, and problem-solving in a safety context.

  • Safety Goal Setting: Engage operational and safety leaders in setting common safety goals and agreeing on responsibilities for the actions that drive improvement. Ensure the activities are operationalized throughout line leadership.

  • Feedback Sessions: Establish structured feedback sessions where operational and safety leaders provide input on each other's safety practices.

  • Leadership Roundtable: Organize leadership roundtable discussions focusing specifically on safety. Encourage leaders to share insights, challenges, and best practices related to safety leadership.

  • Collaborative Policy Development: Involve operational and safety leaders in developing or refining safety policies and procedures.

  • Annual Continuous Improvement Workshop: Conduct annual workshops specifically focused on continuous improvement in safety by celebrating accomplishments and discussing where to focus efforts next year.

Aligning operational leadership and EHS leadership is akin to ensuring that a vehicle's engine and steering wheel work in perfect harmony. Just as the engine provides the power to move forward, operational leadership drives the business toward its goals. On the other hand, the steering wheel, represented by EHS leadership, guides the organization's direction, ensuring that it stays on the right path toward safety, health, and environmental excellence.

When the engine and steering wheel are not aligned, the vehicle may struggle to move efficiently or may veer off course. Similarly, when operational leadership and EHS leadership are not aligned, the organization may face challenges in achieving its objectives and maintaining a safe and sustainable work environment. By aligning these two critical aspects of operations and EHS leadership, organizations can ensure smooth operations, drive toward success, and navigate toward a safer and healthier future.

"In teamwork, silence isn't golden; it's deadly." — Mark Sanborn

"Leaps of greatness require the combined problem-solving ability of people who trust each other." — Simon Senek

"Authenticity is the alignment of head, mouth, heart, and feet - thinking, saying, feeling, and doing the same thing - consistently. This builds trust, and followers love leaders they can trust." — Lance Secretan

Shawn M. Galloway

Shawn M. Galloway is CEO of the global consultancy ProAct Safety. He is a trusted advisor, professional keynote speaker, and author of several bestselling books on safety strategy, culture, leadership, and behavior-based safety. He is a monthly columnist for several magazines and one of the most prolific contributors in the industry, having also authored over 700 podcasts, 200 articles, and 100 videos. Shawn has received awards and recognition for his significant contributions from the American Society of Safety Professionals, National Safety Council's Top 40 Rising Stars and Top Ten Speakers, EHS Today Magazine's 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS, ISHN Magazine's POWER 101 - Leaders of the EHS World and their newest list: 50 Leaders for Today and Tomorrow, Pro-Sapien's list of The Top 11 Health and Safety Influencers and is an Avetta Distinguished Fellow.

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