Theme: Catalyzing and Celebrating HSE Culture Change
Good evening, everyone.
Thank you for joining us on this auspicious occasion.
I am very honored to welcome you to the 13th Annual National Excellence in HSE Awards.
As you have noticed, we decided to change things up a bit this year. No longer are we including an event as prestigious as this as part of our annual HSSE Conference (which begins tomorrow btw).
Instead, we felt we needed to do more to ensure that the National Excellence in HSE Awards is recognized in a manner that befits the importance and relevance of these awards. After all, if we want to celebrate excellence in HSE, then we must show that our commitment to this important topic never ever wavers. So, I am thrilled that this year the HSE Awards is receiving its own billing as a stand-alone event that truly recognizes and honors our distinguished award recipients.
That’s what we are hoping to do here this afternoon. By honoring the many companies that continue to deliver sound leadership in HSE, we want to Catalyze and Celebrate the HSE Culture Change that has made such a profound difference in the way we do business in our nation.
Before I go any further, I want to take this opportunity to extend my sincere gratitude and appreciation to all the JUDGES who have dedicated their time, commitment, and expert knowledge to ensuring the overall success of this year’s awards.
I know Gerard, our Head Judge will tell us more about the judging criteria and extend our gratitude, but I wanted to recognize the enormous contribution and sacrifice our judges have made to this initiative.
I know this process can be very time-consuming and rigorous with long days and lots of paperwork and interviews but you each rose to the occasion and reminded us each time why we must all stay committed to improving health and safety for our people both in the workplace and throughout our nation. On behalf of the Board of AMCHAM T&T and myself, I would like to thank you for your service and sacrifice to this worthy cause.
So, why do we host these awards?
Well, first you might be surprised to hear that we don’t really have to.
No one does really. But both us and our long-standing partners in the team at Woodside – special thanks to Carla Noel and Sheldon Narine – believe that these awards are an extremely important component of developing a robust culture of safety in workplaces across Trinidad and Tobago.
AMCHAM T&T does not bind itself to awarding a WINNER or doing an HONORABLE MENTION. But what we guarantee is the quality of the judging – ALL companies must first meet a particular standard for us to consider them for the award. We will not award the “best of weak” submissions. There are some competitions where companies are guaranteed an award due to the numbers in the category - this is not the National HSE Awards!
Now this has meant in the past we have lost members at AMCHAM T&T who believed they had strong HSE systems and deserved an award. But we will not compromise the integrity and value of these awards by showing favor to some over others who do not meet the required standards.
We remain committed and have full faith in our judges. What is unfortunate and, quite frankly troubling, is that representatives of some companies have told us that they are effectively punished by management when they do not win. I want to appeal to companies here that this is the exact behavior that we caution against because what this does is force both the HSE teams and management to not be open and share their systems to get opportunities to learn and improve.
Ultimately our goal here is always to raise the level of HSE Excellence across every sector and industry. We also believe that you learn from best practices so with these awards we are seeking to highlight some of the really good work being done by your peers.
Tonight, we are celebrating some of you with awards. We also have some nice shiny plaques and certificates to distribute to some very worthy individuals. But awards and plaques are not really what these awards are about.
Building and sustaining excellence in HSE is what we are really honoring and celebrating tonight. For me, this happens when leaders set the tone for every organization. Therefore, if we expect to Catalyse and Celebrate the HSE Culture Change we envision for our companies then this must begin foremost with the senior leadership team actively getting involved and leading by example to establish a strong safety culture.
I am very happy to say that the companies that will be honored here tonight all have this in common. If their leaders weren’t ensuring that HSE becomes the heart of their operations, then this HSE Culture Change would never have happened.
That’s what we are really honoring and celebrating tonight. It’s the way companies have not only adopted HSE into their operations but also how this has now become their ethos of doing business.
Celebrating this HSE Culture change is about how we value and treat our people. Let it never be forgotten that your employees are the backbone of your safety culture. Therefore, it’s about leaders adopting a set of deeply ingrained beliefs, values, and behaviors to prioritize the well-being of their employees over the organization.
It's about leaders also respecting their people enough to involve them at every step of the change process which can ultimately lead to better outcomes and more effective solutions.
So for us, catalyzing and celebrating the HSE culture change really comes down to establishing a culture that fully allows your people to share their input, freely engage in open dialogue with their supervisors, and openly report safety concerns to avoid unnecessary accidents or emergencies.
I feel like when we look at our nation today, we see so much of this is missing. We are struggling to find ways to interact with each other on the most common of issues. We are not allowing ourselves to listen to each other when we do have a problem. And we even refuse to collaborate to find the solutions to those problems.
This is why we wanted to celebrate the excellence companies were demonstrating in their HSE leadership. We wanted to bridge the gaps that exist so that we can find common ground on an issue to show leadership that is defined by stronger collaboration, higher commitment, and greater dedication to keeping our people safe.
I am very happy and pleased with the cultural shift we have seen over the years. In the beginning, we saw companies strengthening their safety arsenal through intense process safety measures to identify potential risks and hazards. Now, in addition to that, companies are also putting a sharp focus on placing priority on the mental health of their employees and the increased use of technology to advance their HSE operations.
I want to commend you for evolving with the changing times that we live in today, and in doing so, making sure that each of your companies remains people-centered in all that you do.
Today, we see the benefits of this – we received the largest number of applications to the Awards - 36 submissions were received. This year, we also have the LARGEST number of companies advancing to the final stage. Let me repeat that – THIS YEAR we saw the highest number of finalists in the award's 13-year history with twenty-eight (28) companies advancing to the final stage. I think that deserves a round of applause.
So, it doesn’t matter who wins and who doesn’t. Because tonight you are all WINNERS. With these numbers, you are showing your high commitment and excellence achieved in building an HSE culture and mindset within your respective organizations. I applaud you for that and urge you to continue along this path.
As you know, we also have a mentorship component to these awards. I know some of you have already taken up this opportunity to improve your HSE policies based on the expert advice from our mentors. I hope to see more companies utilize this service and continue to show a high commitment to HSE. Also, let me just say a special thank you to the four mentors who have partnered with us on this initiative. Thank you for your valuable insights and the expertise you bring to these sessions.
As I close, let me remind you that safety is not a destination; it’s a journey that requires a strong level of commitment, dedication, and willingness to evolve as our society continues to develop. I know the Minister is here and I want to say that we remain committed to the health and safety of our people and the protection of our environment. We are open to collaborating with the Ministry and willing to work with you in whatever capacity to ensure the overall health and safety of our people.
Before I leave, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to my team at the AMCHAM Secretariat for all their hard work that went into the planning and coordination of this event. I know they all contributed equally but I really want to say a special thank you to Melissa Pierre, Choy Durity, and especially to Arianna Gayadeen who spent a lot of months working with the judges and our finalists to make this event possible.
Finally, I would like to congratulate all the companies that participated in this year’s awards. Whether you won, were named a finalist, or didn’t make the cut, thank you for continuing to adopt the “putting people first safe” philosophy into all that you do. No matter the outcome of this year’s awards, I hope the future continues to see you leading with HSSE across every part of your company’s operations and overall workplace culture.
I wish all the finalists huge congratulations on their successes. Good luck to everyone.