Good Morning, everyone.
It is my honour to welcome you to AMCHAM T&T’s 26th Annual HSSE Conference and Exhibition. Even though I am disappointed that I am unable to join you today in person, I am also excited that this year’s Conference and Exhibition is a hybrid affair so that we can welcome both our in-person and virtual audiences. And so I must begin by expressing our enormous gratitude to our sponsors, many of whom have been with us for years. Thank you for your unwavering commitment to our shared goal of improving HSSE performance across industries in our region.
So this year’s theme is Re-Imagining HSSE. Well, that means we need to build on what we have done well, we need to be open-minded to trying new ways of doing things and quite frankly – it also means we may need to unlearn a few things.
For many of us, the goal in HSSE is to evaluate situations and do risk assessments hoping to avoid an accident or tragedy. This is what keeps us safe and functioning. But what happens when we face problems that we thought were either unimaginable or impossible? Preparing for the unknown is a big part of what will help us to always save lives and keep our companies operating smoothly.
But I don’t need to tell a room full of HSSE professionals about preparing for the unknown. You already know about this, and that’s why you are the experts. The challenge is how we get everyone else on board. Ultimately, it comes down to leadership.
As leaders, we know how important our people are to our organizations. Without them, there will be no profits, no achievements, no results. So, how do we keep “showing up” for our people who have “shown up” for us every day - ready and willing to carry out the tasks that have maintained our company’s survival and success? Over the next few days, I’m asking you to really think about this.
How do we keep our valued employees safe, engaged and happy as we transition into this new era and world of work? It requires Leadership input and commitment to transform both our workplace and mindsets to lead safely. This means harnessing emerging technologies to enhance the protection of our people and the natural environment. Therefore, digital transformation isn't just limited to IT-related functions, it is also an HSSE imperative.
So, let us start using digital transformation to empower our employees to play a more active role in ensuring safety. Remember, going digital doesn't replace employees, it provides the opportunities for employees to have augmented systems to aid them in value-adding work, not just for the organisation, but also for themselves. It helps in reducing risk and in allowing employees to make informed decisions faster, thereby saving lives.
As I speak of risks, none has been more apparent in a digital world than the ones related to cyberattacks. This year, the TT Cyber Security Incident Response Team reported a massive increase in malicious cyber activity targeting local and regional entities. I’m pleased to say that we’ve been speaking about the importance of cyber security for more than seven years at this Conference, and this year we are bringing this even more into focus as we are hosting a parallel cyber security track at our Conference. So I do encourage you to attend sessions on that track.
Re-Imagining HSSE in today's workplace also means placing equal priority on creating psychologically safe spaces as we do on creating physical safe spaces. There is no one "right way" to create a mentally healthy workplace since all workplaces are different, and while legislation is always helpful, we shouldn't have to wait on the law to protect our employees. Instead, as leaders, we must ensure that all levels of the workplace - this includes the Board of Directors, management, finance, human resources, and HSE departments – get involved to incorporate mental health at your workplace.
And there are so many facets that contribute to mental health. For example, what are we doing about stigma and discrimination or harassment, violence, and bullying in the workplace? These are very real but yet not fully ventilated issues that not only impact our employees’ well-being, but also our companies’ cultures. Reimagining HSSE therefore also must address matters of diversity, equity, and inclusion, which I am thrilled to say we will be discussing with one of our Feature Speakers Stephanie LeBlanc-Godfrey from Google at this year's conference. I hope like me, you are very much looking forward to that session.
So as I wrap up my remarks, let me end by re-introducing my original question: "how do we keep “showing up” for our people who have “shown up” for us every day?" Our staff and our safety professionals have outperformed in the discharge of their duties during some very challenging times. So, I implore you to continue seeking their interests. Continue re-imagining your HSSE policies and processes to build both a physically and psychologically safe work environment for ALL employees, regardless of their background! Continue “showing-up” for your people and letting them know that you care so they will continue to show up for you when you need them the most!
Thank you, everyone, and I do hope you enjoy the next three days of informative thought leadership which will be delivered by our very acclaimed speakers.
I wish you a successful conference!
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