3 EHS & Risk Lessons from the Euro 2016 Final

July 14, 2016
By Jean-Grégoire Manoukian

Back in February, after Super Bowl 50, we published a post on . We received a comment on the post that maybe we should do the same thing for the Euro 2016 soccer championship that concluded on July 10 in Paris. Since we like to address requests from our readers and the idea is a good one, we went ahead and wrote this post.

The UEFA Euro 2016 soccer championship took place from June 10 to July 10 in France, and included 24 countries competing to claim the title of European champions. The Euro is one of the most popular soccer tournaments in the entire world, not just in Europe. Some people like to say in an amusing way that the Euro is like the World Cup of soccer without Brazil and Argentina.

The final took place on July 10, and Portugal won 1-0 against France, to claim their first title ever. For this post, we will highlight aspects of the final match that can teach us something about EHS and Risk. The post aims to draw parallels between what happened at the Euro 2016 final and EHS and Risk Management.

1) Encourage the Reporting of Injuries and Hazards

What happened at Euro 2016: At the 18th minute, Cristiano Ronaldo, the captain of the Portuguese team and its top player, got hurt after his knee got in contact with a French player. Despite getting hurt, Ronaldo continued to play after receiving some treatment. But he had to leave the field a little later and again receive treatment for his knee. He was clearly not at 100%. Finally, at the 24th minute, Ronaldo signaled that he wanted to leave the game, which he did on a stretcher. Quaresma came in the game as a substitute.

What are the lessons: Ronaldo is not immune to controversy. He has been accused of being arrogant, ego-centric and theatrical. But in this particular case, he acted the right way. Ronaldo could have continued to play at 50%-60% capacity, but that would have harmed the team. He realized that it would be better if another player came in, at 100% capacity, rather than continuing in that state. For workers, the lesson is to acknowledge a workplace injury or a hazardous condition and take action, rather than trying to be a hero and continuing to work despite the problem. It may be tempting for workers to hide an illness or injury and continue to work out of fear of losing their job or sheer stubbornness. But EHS excellence is about taking into the account the entire workforce. Similarly, the lesson for EHS managers is to foster a safety culture that encourages the , in order to make sure that productivity levels are maintained through a safe and healthy workforce.

2) Build Organizational Resilience

What happened at Euro 2016: Ronaldo left the game at the 24th minute. He was not only the captain of the team, but also their best player. This had the potential to negatively affect Portugal and their performance moving forward. The Portuguese were already the underdogs and playing against the host country. The loss of their star player made the odds of winning even more difficult. But they kept their calm, confidence and composure. Portugal did not let the adverse event deter them. They adjusted to the loss of Ronaldo and continued playing at the same performance level.

What are the lessons: Resilient organizations are the ones that survive and thrive. Companies that build resilience are better prepared to face organizational stressors that may impact operations, as well as adverse events and even . Organizational resilience is enabled when corporate leaders adopt a framework for operational excellence by having an through a central risk register, putting controls in place to mitigate risks and evaluating residual risks. Resilience is also enabled by having an effective system in place, because a change in people, processes, products or equipment can potentially increase risks of non-compliance, operational inefficiencies, unsafe working conditions, and equipment failures.

3) One Person Can Make a Difference in Safety

What happened at Euro 2016: The game was tied until Portugal’s goal in the 109th minute. Until that point, both goalkeepers kept their respective teams in the game by making a number of remarkable saves. Portugal’s Rui Patrício made key saves against France’s Griezmann in the 10th minute, Sissoko in the 33rd and 83rd minutes, and Giroud in the 75th minute. France’s Lloris made equally remarkable saves against Portugal’s Nani in the 79th minute and Eder in the 104th minute. The game could have easily taken a decisive turn if any of those attempts on goal were successful, because the game was more of a defensive contest rather than a high-paced offensive one.

What are the lessons: Just as the two goalkeepers kept their teams in the game single-handedly through key saves, similarly a single employee can make a big difference between a safe and unsafe working environment. EHS managers must encourage workers to report near misses, because near misses can help identify workplace hazards that present significant risks for accidents. In addition, EHS managers should implement a and encourage workers to report observations that can also help identify potential workplace hazards, or lead to opportunities to improve safety. For every injury, there are probably many at-risk behaviors. Each at-risk behavior has the potential to cause an incident later. A single worker who reports a near miss or observation may prevent future incidents or accidents, thus making a big difference.

We hope you enjoyed this post on the parallels between the Euro 2016 final and EHS and Risk Management. And in case you’re wondering, the next World Cup of soccer will take place in 2018, in Russia. Will Germany repeat as world champions? Will Portugal build on their success at Euro 2016? Will France draw inspiration from their impressive run at Euro 2016 and perform well? Stay tuned!

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