“Saving Private Ryan & Dunkirk”!Wake up EHS Folks!

A ‘motley procession of vessels’ rescued 338,226 troops over 10 days #DUNKIRK 

World War II has dished out 100s of Movies and books, both fiction, and non fiction as well as Fiction tuned to real events! Two of such movies may stand out from war rescue point of view !! 1) Saving Private Ryan -1998 and about 20 years later, 2) Dunkirk. I am pretty sure, Dunkirk shall achieve the same level of accolades as SPR did. So much so that I am booking tickets for the show Sunday with my son! This would be my Seventh movie or so in 28 years!!! ( I am yet to completely watch, Saving Private Ryan!!!!!! On September 11,2001, at Lahore, Pakistan, 30 minutes in to movie in my hotel room video, 1715 Pakistan time, my YAHOO Messenger on computer,flashed, “AMERICA IS UNDER ATTACK”)

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So what war movies can teach us /show us in our day-to-day life as EHS professionals! I am penning my thoughts! Would look to your comments/inputs!

  1. Leaders never shy of taking responsibility and own up to themselves for results:- Several situations at work or in battle the leadership capabilities alone largely determines the success of a mission. Leadership is all about intelligent risk taking with visualisation of what others can’t see. Leaders never shy away from owning the responsibility mostly for failures and always pass success to the team mates. EHS folks can do better if they inherit these characteristics. They can align these values to organisation behaviour model to achieve results. Leadership is also about being available for their people. Listen, Learn, LEAD!!! 

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  2. Plans may be worthless when rubber hits the road, but still have a plan! So work the plans for EHS implementation through legal compliance, Risk Assessment, inputs feedback from opinion makers that set the objectives and targets. The business situation may change in these uncertain economic, social times thus potential rendering plans null & void or useless ! But having a plan can help steer EHS performance through rough/troubled times with suitable tweaking or rewriting a plan. Remember, altering a plan is not a sign of failure but aligning to new ground business realities. Having a plan aligned to business /EHS purpose helps organisation to weather out rough times as was case during Economic depression of 2008-2010. Companies that had better business /EHS Plan were able to recover quickly than others for business as usual.
  3. Keep doing your job, management is never sexy, as is in battle! EHS professionals need to realise that we are in to business of protecting (Wo)Men, Material, Machine, Mileu. The job is to do routine, non sexy things right only stupid people do the same mistake twice. Good management is all about doing things right, effectively. So just go about doing the job establishing process, program, procedures, protocol, protection. Better results will follow automatically. AAEAAQAAAAAAAANFAAAAJDhmM2U1MDAyLTBjOTAtNGRjNi1hN2EwLWY5MDc1NjE1MTEwOQ
  4. Treat people with Dignity, even in worst of war conditions the dead in battlefield are treated with dignity by enemies. So in civil life where death is not the price to pay in everything we do, it goes without saying that people who are your peers or people down the chain needs to be treated with dignity. Show respect to the person, to their views/opinion. No thought said is irrelevant, immaterial. Show active listening. Speak to them rather than speak at them. EHS professionals cant be at every place of operations to know the hidden issues, so interacting with people in a dignified way goes a long way to pull in information. 

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  5. Ordinary people matter:- As seen in many war events, it is an ordinary people who are nameless, faceless who provide vital support and momentum to army in its march. EHS professionals in their work to keep incidents at bay as well as implement loss prevention strategy needs inputs from countless ordinary people who carry out routine tasks. These ordinary people have their ear to the ground to predict events based on a pattern that may not be even in grasp of seasoned managers/ leaders. Keep up relationship power to get information from ordinary people by being visible at work front.

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  6. Survival is an art and science, learn and master it! As in war no victory is worth if one pays the ultimate sacrifice of laying his life! War is all about taking other’s lives! In EHS, folks need to be very clear that danger is out there and it is truth. So work a survival plans in terms of  technical capability, network connect with fellow professionals, ample trust credits to ask for favours, Be good to people with “ARK” (Act of Random Kindness) it all adds up and matters when chips are down…… 
  7. You will always live to fight another day & Pick your battle carefully. Some times as in war you may be beleaguered by defeats and death around! It may look a hopeless cause, sometimes survival itself bring accolades as was case in Dunkirk. Also in Saving private Ryan it is all about survival and cut your loses. EHS professionals may face such road blocks in terms of poor leadership, lack of plans, poor execution of EHS concepts. It may appear that folks are getting no where! Never give up! Be the last man standing. All it takes one flash of event to change things! more so in these days of changes that occur in rapid pace. Pick up your efforts with tools like Risk Assessment, Process management, Training, Communication, Engineering excellence to address EHS issues. It makes huge difference to know beforehand. A wise EHS professional succeeds by strength of the things he can do,knowledge of things she can’t do and is wise enough to the difference between the two. images (1)

Take it easy, take care, stay safe, God Bless!


12/8/17 1515 Hrs





Author: Karthik B; Orion Transcenders. Bangalore.

Lives in Bangalore. HESS Professional of 30+ yrs experience. Global Exposure in 4 continents of over 22 years in implementation of Health, Environment, Safety, Sustainability. First batch of Environmental Engineers from 1985 Batch. Qualified for implementing Lean, 6Sigma, HR best practices integrating them in to HESS as value add to business.

One thought on ““Saving Private Ryan & Dunkirk”!Wake up EHS Folks!”

  1. Sis. Excellent article..
    Good to see the explanation related to take additional responsibilities.. it’s always challenge to get it.. it’s all depends where u will work and how ur team..
    As per ur suggestions in the other point.. have patience n continue focus on the work you do to strengthen definitely get the credit in the later date for sure

    In ESH what ever we do.. we should not give up… Many times we end up with basic issues till the culture change right?


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