#11: Stop using the moral high ground; start using persuasion.

With Kirwin Lalla, Director of EHS at Sysco Canada

Please note that the views, information, and opinions expressed during Safety Leaders Now are solely those of Joe Meadows and Kirwin Lalla and do not necessarily represent those of Sysco Canada and its employees.

As the Director of EHS at Sysco Canada, Kirwin Lalla is responsible for managing the safety of over 4,500 employees who operate in a diverse range of environments including warehousing, transportation, and power generation. In this episode, he discusses how the power of persuasion helped him implement a safety strategy that has received support from Sysco's global management team.




With 4,500 employees to keep safe, Kirwin Lalla, Director of EHS at Sysco Canada, has a diverse scope of work. Tune in to this episode to hear him discuss how listening, understanding, and the power the persuasion helped him to create a globally commended safety strategy.

  • Behind the scenes with Joe and Valeriya [01:13];
  • Introduction to Kirwin Lalla [03:07];
  • Insight into the Environmental Health and Safety management at Sysco Canada [04:36];
  • The company size, company structure, and reporting lines [07:47];
  • Sysco Canada’s safety org chart [08:31];
  • How Kirwin’s background in maritime led to him pursuing a career in safety [11:12];
  • Kirwin’s thoughts on focussing on safety compliance vs risk management [17:48];
  • The 2 soft skills that Kirwin used the most when starting at Sysco Canada: listening and understanding [19:57];
  • How Kirwin’s economic planner was the catalyst for changing the perception of safety at Sysco Canada [23:48];
  • Breakdown of the tools, questions, and reporting methods used for Sysco Canada’s internal safety perception survey [29:32];
  • How Kirwin designed the questions he included in his safety perception survey [35:00];
  • Kirwin’s tips for safety professionals who are wanting to successfully pitch a safety initiative [36:41];
  • Insight into how Kirwin developed his tactical leadership skillset [43:05];
  • Opportunities for change within the Safety Industry [48:40];
  • Kirwin’s closing remarks [57:52];
  • More.



Kirwin's reading recommendations:

  • "The Emperor Has No Hard Hat" by Alan D. Quilley
  • "From Accidents to Zero" by Professor Dr. Andrew Sharman
  • "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" by Robert Cialdini
  • "Social Intelligence and the Biology of Leadership" by Daniel Goleman & Richard E. Boyatzis


The health and safety planner Kirwin uses and his questions:

Disclaimer: One sizes does not fit all and it is important to design questions that are pertinent to your organization.

Safe Accountability

  1. I am recognized positively for my safety efforts
  2. I know and understand my safety responsibilities
  3. I have the authority to stop an unsafe situation and take action to correct the hazard
  4. Workers in my department participate in deciding how the work gets done safely
  5. I receive the training and support I need to do my job safely

Safe Behaviour

  1. My leader sets a good safety example for others to follow
  2. Workers are observed routinely to assist them in performing their jobs safely
  3. I understand the measures used to evaluate my safety performance
  4. My leader regularly talks with me about safety
  5. I trust my leaders to create a safe workplace

 Safe Culture

  1. The site where I work has a clear corporate  "Safety Culture" and values
  2. My department focuses on solving problems instead of finding fault
  3. I can contact senior leadership to discuss safety concerns if needed
  4. Operating safely is discussed at production meetings
  5. I feel very safe at work
  6. New workers are assigned to work with experienced workers for job instruction
  7. I have the materials I need to do my job Safely
  8. I have the tools I need to do my job safely

Work Environment

  1. I have the equipment I need to do my job safely
  2.  Incidents and injuries are thoroughly analyzed, and lessons communicated
  3. Leaders discuss incidents and injuries with employees involved
  4. Workers feel free to discuss the causes of incidents with incident analysis
  5. Incidents are used as opportunities for learning
  6. Meetings are held to discuss safety with frontline staff
  7. Health and safety meetings have a favorable effect on the site’s safety performance
  8. Safety posters, directional signage & bulletins are clearly posted and updated regularly
  9. Associates participate in safety discussions at meetings

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