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March 14, 2024

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Back for 2024: EHS Congress Berlin

SHP hears from the organisers of the upcoming EHS Congress which, this year, will be held at Andel’s Berlin, between 22-23 May and includes breakout workshops and networking opportunities.

The upcoming EHS Congress promises to be a confluence of revolutionary ideas, practical strategies, and a shared vision for the future of workplace safety.

With so many distinguished speakers, Diane Chadwick-Jones and Erik Hollnagel start Day 0 and Day 1 respectively, not just for their expertise but for their contrasting yet complementary approaches to enhancing organisational safety culture.

Senior leader engagement

Chadwick-Jones, with her focus on Human & Organisational Performance (H&OP), emphasizes the critical role of senior leader engagement and the practical steps necessary for H&OP integration. Her approach underscores the complexity of the workplace and the often-overlooked gap between the imagined and actual execution of work.

This perspective dovetails intriguingly with Hollnagel’s emphasis on moving from managing safety as a separate objective to managing operations safely. Both speakers highlight the importance of understanding the nuances of human performance and the organisational environment in fostering a culture of safety.

Intuition and decision-making

In contrast, Gerd Gigerenzer’s exploration of the intelligence of intuition offers a fascinating counterpoint to the structured methodologies discussed by Chadwick-Jones and Hollnagel. Gigerenzer’s insights into how intuition can be a powerful tool in decision-making, especially in uncertain and complex environments, add a unique dimension to the conversation.

His assertion that intuition, rather than being an arbitrary judgment, is an “ultimate experience” challenges us to reconsider our approaches to safety and risk management.

The panel debate of Day 1 morning featuring Hollnagel, Rhona Flin, Dianne Parker and Drew Rae further enriches this discourse by delving into safety from a human-centric standpoint, exploring themes of human factors engineering, resilience, and the impact of organisational culture on decision-making. This discussion promises to weave together the threads laid out by individual speakers, offering a holistic view of how human elements influence safety culture and risk perception.

Stuart Hughes and Marcin Nazaruk, in their respective sessions, extend the conversation to the value of consistency and learning from normal work. Hughes’s introduction of the PELE model and lessons from the pit lane underscores the importance of preparation and consistent execution in achieving safety. Nazaruk’s focus on learning from normal work to proactively identify constraints offers a practical approach to understanding and mitigating risk, providing a compelling complement to Hughes’s emphasis on consistency.

As these speakers share their knowledge with the audience in the main room, attendees have a chance to join into any of the ongoing 4 breakout workshops in their respective 4 rooms.

Each limited to 25 participants to maximise networking and interactivity and each led by a world-class breakout workshop leader.

Read SHP’s overview of last year’s EHS Congress in Berlin here!

Safety processes

Continuing from the vibrant discussions anticipated with Chadwick-Jones, Hollnagel, and Gigerenzer, the EHS Congress is set to deepen the discourse with insights from other luminaries in the field. Juliana Bley’s afternoon presentation on “Concepts and Impact of Learning Innovation for EHS” and Robert Jan de Boer’s talk on “Embedded Discoveries” promise to further expand the conversation, bringing to light the nuances of safety learning processes and the intersection of safety science with practical applications.

Bley’s focus on SafetyLAB and the humanization of safety processes emphasizes the need for engaging and innovative techniques in HSE education. This approach aligns with the themes of human-centric safety management, yet introduces a fresh angle: the power of interactive and immersive learning to transform safety culture from the ground up.

Her session is poised to complement the earlier discussions by showcasing how engaging learning environments can foster a deeper understanding and commitment to safety practices, especially among frontline leaders and workers.

Tangible strategy

A snippet of the Congress last year.

On the other hand, de Boer’s exploration of “Embedded Discoveries” through the lens of Restorative Just Culture introduces a methodological perspective on investigating organisational complexity.

This approach, which has been successfully applied globally, aims to collect rich datasets that inform top management decisions to enhance safety measures. De Boer’s insights promise to offer a tangible strategy for integrating safety science into the fabric of organisational operations, resonating with Hollnagel’s earlier points on managing operations safely, yet through a distinct, data-driven lens.

The dialogue between structured safety management and the intuitive grasp of risk situations finds a new dimension in the workshops led by Drew Rae and Marcin Nazaruk. Rae’s critical examination of safety performance measurements and Nazaruk’s beyond-hazards approach to learning from normal work challenge conventional EHS metrics and methodologies.

Rae’s skepticism towards traditional safety metrics and his push for a scientific approach to organisational safety improvement echo Gigerenzer’s advocacy for intuition, yet within the context of empirical analysis and evidence-based strategies.

Nazaruk’s call for a new approach to understand how people adapt to constraints without incident dovetails with Chadwick-Jones’s emphasis on the gap between imagined and actual execution of work. This synergy between Rae’s and Nazaruk’s sessions underscores a collective move towards more nuanced, informed, and human-centric safety practices that not only anticipate risks but actively engage with the realities of the workplace to mitigate them.

Malcolm Staves’s workshop on making EHS irresistible to young talents, and Clive Lloyd’s interactive session on transitioning from compliance to care, round off the congress’s agenda for Day 1 by focusing on the future of the profession and the cultural shifts necessary to sustain it. Staves’s strategies for captivating the next generation of EHS professionals and Lloyd’s evidence-based tactics for building trust and psychological safety within teams represent the congress’s forward-thinking ethos.

These sessions not only aim to attract talent but also to cultivate an environment where safety is integrated into the organization’s DNA, resonating deeply with the event’s overarching themes of innovation, engagement, and transformative leadership in EHS.

Further reading: Challenges in organisational wellbeing – EHS Congress 2023

Networking opportunities 

Amidst the intellectual rigor and enlightening discussions of the EHS Congress, the Day 0 welcome icebreaker evening reception at the stunning Loft14 on the 14th floor of Vienna House by Wyndham Andel’s Berlin offers a splendid opportunity for delegates to unwind, connect, and set the tone for the event.

Sponsored by Wolters Kluwer, this legendary evening promises not just breathtaking views of Berlin’s skyline but an ambiance of sophistication and indulgence. As participants mingle over exquisite cocktails and engage in conversations, the backdrop of the iconic TV Tower adds a touch of James Bond mystique to the evening.

The Day 1 evening then takes networking and culinary delight to new heights with a dinner at Berlin’s TV Tower’s Sphere restaurant, offering a panoramic dining experience 207 meters above the city.

This curated dinner, exclusively prepared for EHS Congress participants, allows delegates to continue their discussions and connections in an environment that combines gastronomic excellence with a rotating view of the city lights. As the congress day concludes, this dinner serves as a moment of reflection and relaxation, allowing participants to absorb the day’s insights while enjoying the company of fellow EHS leaders and delegates.

Only 46 days to go for this year’s EHS Congress back in Berlin, we hope you can join us this May 22-23!


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