The National Association for Environmental Management (NAEM) is the largest professional association for corporate environment, health and safety (EHS) and sustainability decision-makers. We are dedicated to empowering our members to advance environmental stewardship, create safe and healthy workplaces, and promote global sustainability.
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Key Practice Area - Safe and Healthy Workplaces - Building a Strong Safety Culture
Key Practice Area: Safe & Healthy Workplaces

Building a Strong Safety Culture

April 2011

Environmental, health and safety (EHS) managers are often considered agents of change. Learn how to create change by leveraging your organizational connections, interdisciplinary perspective and personal passion.


This webinar from Feb. 26, 2009 demonstrates how EHS Managers can drive change within their organizations. In this section you will find:

Case Study: “Being an Effective EHS Change Agent” Learn how EHS Managers are driving safety at Barrick Gold Corp.

Webinar: “The EHS Manager as a Change Agent” This webinar from Feb. 26, 2009 features presentations by:

  • Don Ritz, Vice President, Safety & Health, Barrick Gold Corp.
  • Bruce Huber, Senior Director, Safety & Health, Barrick Gold Corp.

Case Study

How to be an Effective EHS Change Agent

A case study of Barrick Gold Corp.

As the green movement progresses worldwide, more and more companies are moving towards advancing environmental stewardship and creating safe and healthy workplaces. Environmental health safety managers are spearheading that change, but it comes with challenges.

Often times these EHS managers are trying to alter a company’s culture and transform how employees approach day-to-day duties. One company that has been a leader in EHS in the mining industry is Barrick Gold Corp.

Don Ritz serves as Vice President of Safety and Health for the company. He says change agents must have sound integrity.

“You really have to be conscious of the fact that you’ve got to look at your own authenticity, your own passion, your own commitment in terms of what you’re trying to change,” Ritz said.

He suggests that change agents set a vision.

“Without the vision of what to change is, it’s really hard to move towards a different state,” he said, and it’s best to have a corresponding strategy and a business plan.

“So often when we try to change things in organizations, we have a vision of where we want to go, but we fail to put the strategy and the business plan together that will actually complement where it is we want to go.”

Visions of the new safety culture should be identifiable to the company and employees. “If we can’t get individuals to identify with it it’s hard to understand that they will eventually buy into it,” Ritz said.

To help prevent this, employees should be involved in the process of developing the vision.

To make new safety and health programs sustainable, Ritz says change agents need to understand how these processes will affect how employees work.

The programs and initiatives should fit with the vision, and like EHS managers, other leadership must “talk the talk” but even more critically “walk the walk.”

“One of our jobs is to create the culture and the elements around that for the change that we want. If we want to see successful change then what we have to do is create that culture ourselves,” he said. “We’ve got to put the effort upfront to do that.”

Many EHS management teams, including Barrick Gold and DuPont, use “Felt” leadership to implement their programs. Felt leadership may vary from organization to organization, but for Barrick Gold, it stands for frequent interactions, engaging employees, living the behaviors and letting them know you care.

“If we’re going to create change, we’ve got to put as much effort into dealing with the people as [well as] what we do with dealing with the program.”


Click here to download the presentations for the "EHS Manager as Change Agent" webinar, from Feb. 26, 2009.

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