Well-deserved and hearty congratulations are extended to Process Components Limited (Procom) and Massy Technologies Applied Imaging (Trinidad) Ltd. who each got a perfect score of 100 per cent in each Safe TO Work (STOW) element at their 2017 recertification audits. STOW is a certification programme for contractors’ health, safety and environmental (HSE) management systems (MS) which involves contractors implementing the locally developed STOW HSE requirements and undergoing an independent audit to verify compliance to the requirements.
As it turns out, three women are the driving force behind the outstanding achievement at both companies: Rialisa Malayah, QHSE Supervisor, and Malinda Davis, QHSE Administrative Assistant, at Procom, and Gail Figaro, Regional HSE Manager, Massy Technologies Applied Imaging (Trinidad) Ltd.
I sat down with these women to get an insight into how they went about transforming the health, safety and environmental culture of their respective organisations and here are their stories.
Process Components Limited
My first impression of Rialisa was that she was reserved, perhaps a bit shy. I was mistaken. As we settled down and started chatting about the topic at hand, there was a determination in her eyes and a resolve in her voice that was unmistakable and by the end of the interview, it was clear to me that with her focus and ambition, failure was never an option.
Rialisa started off as a consultant with Procom in 2013 and got the company through their first STOW certification. By the following year, she was hired as an employee of the company with the mandate of entrenching STOW in the organisation. Later in 2014, Malinda Davis joined Procom, and working as a cohesive team, they led the company to its current success at their 2017 STOW recertification audit.
Rialisa and Malinda cited people as their major challenge in transforming the culture of the organisation. ‘Employees were accustomed to doing things their own way and initially did not see the benefit of what Malinda and I were trying to do’, Rialisa told me. But both women understood that as change agents for the organisation, it was par for the course that they would meet resistance and they were undaunted by the challenge.
Having the backing of their CEO, Mark Laughlin, they proceeded to create and implement a detailed HSE performance plan which included a daily electronic tracker to analyse, monitor and evaluate how well the company was doing against the performance measures. Through this new system, people were held accountable and the entire organisation was kept abreast of the areas of progress and areas where improvement was needed. Over a twoyear period, Rialisa and Malinda saw the mindset of employees change from scepticism to support for and an appreciation of the value of HSE.
Interestingly, there is a list of five goals for the QHSE Department printed in large font and strategically placed on the door of a frequently used cabinet in the office. On the document, the number one goal is ‘Maintain a two (2) year trend with the STOW-TT certification and achieve special recognition (100% in all elements)’. At the time of conducting the interview, there was a pencil tick next to this goal. Rialisa told me she placed the list there in 2015 as a daily reminder of what she and Malinda had to achieve.
According to Rialisa and Malinda, there are many reasons for their success. ‘It took hard work by the QHSE Department but we knew what we wanted and what we were about from the start’. Rialisa added, ‘For us, it is not about STOW, but about ensuring that HSE is integrated as a live culture at Procom. Malinda and I are here to ensure that good HSE governance and best practice are maintained at Procom and we push and ensure that the company has a good image’. They see their role as one of ‘setting the bar for Procom and so it can be a standard for other companies’.
Rialisa credits her CEO for being committed and supportive all the way and ensuring that financial and other resources were made available. Throughout the interview, I could feel the synergy between Rialisa and Malinda and could see that they work well together. Rialisa gave high praise to Malinda stating, ‘It was a team effort and Malinda did a fantastic job maintaining the tracker and handling the administrative side of things’.
When asked about how they intend to maintain a perfect score at the next STOW audit, without missing a beat Rialisa confidently replied, ‘There’s nothing to think about when it comes to maintaining our HSE culture at Procom’. She reiterated that they had a performance plan which was working and which could be adjusted for any major changes within the organisation. She expected that with continued involvement of the management team and employees, ‘Procom would continue to work to maintain a live HSE culture’.
Railisa and Malinda are both proud of the achievement and the role they played in uplifting Procom. It has motivated them to continue pursuing excellence as they go forward.
Massy Technologies Applied Imaging (Trinidad) Ltd.
Gail Figaro exuded confidence and this impression stayed with me throughout the interview. As the Regional HSE Manager of the Massy Technologies Group, she is responsible for three companies in Trinidad and Tobago, as well as operations in Barbados, Jamaica and Guyana. Drawing from past experiences and lessons learnt, Gail was confident that she understood the STOW process and that she and her team had the background and competence to lead the HSE culture at Massy Technologies Applied Imaging (Trinidad) Ltd.
For Gail, the major challenges in implementing STOW included the completion of policies which proved to be very time consuming and changing people’s attitude towards a culture of personal accountability for HSE.
‘An HSE management system can look very good on paper but that was not what we wanted at Massy’, she said. So Gail proceeded to build an authentic HSE culture for the organisation which she branded as the ALIVE culture … ‘Alert, Living Well, Being Invested, Vocal and Educated’.
Gail explained that while the ALIVE culture focused on the technical aspects of HSE, it also encouraged employees to heed concerns that are raised and actively pursue solutions. ‘It’s not only about signage and personal protective equipment but also about living well, taking care of emotional intelligence and being each other’s keeper’, she said.
Gail and her team invested time in shifting the focus from HSE compliance to HSE commitment, backing it up with the required transfer of knowledge and it all paid off.
The resulting HSE culture became one where people have the flexibility to not only think outside the box but to ‘destroy the box altogether’. This approach has fostered a high level of creativity within the organisation and has removed the perception that the HSE Department is there to police. Instead, HSE is viewed as an integral part of the company’s business operations.
Gail’s journey in transforming the HSE culture of the organisation was by no means an easy one. ‘As an HSE person, being thick-skinned is a must’, she said smiling as the words came out of her mouth. Her style is ‘to have a soft heart but an iron will’, taking the time to listen to employees and their concerns but also insisting that they take personal accountability for HSE in the organisation.
She credits her team members Safeeya Manzano, HSE Coordinator, and Skyle Baptiste, Regional HSE Coordinator, with unwavering support and commitment to HSE excellence in the organisation. She also acknowledged Fenwick Reid, Chairman, and Anna Henderson, CEO, whose support for HSE went a long way in creating and instilling the present culture.
Gail has mixed feelings about this achievement. On the one hand, she is very proud of the team and it is a high point in her journey. But on the other hand, she does not want to get too comfortable because she is aware that the team still has more to do. ’One hundred per cent can be interpreted as perfection’, she said but she reminds herself that it really means that the company met the STOW criteria. The team still has to manage new projects and new persons which will no doubt pose new challenges.
I was impressed with the achievements of Rialisa, Malinda and Gail and thoroughly enjoyed chatting with them. They are all of the opinion that other contractors can achieve the same success. For Rialisa and Malinda, it is important for contractors to share their lessons learnt in their journey to STOW certification. This will facilitate faster understanding of STOW among contractors.
Gail believes that there is value in consulting staff during the creation of policies and the development of the HSE management system. It helps to build an authentic culture within the organisation. Her advice is for contractors to think about staffing their organisation to achieve similar success.