Faces of EHS

Faces of EHS: Laynnea Myles Talks Viewing Safety as a Value

For some people, doing the same thing over and over is insanity. For Laynnea Myles, however, repetition is the essence of learning. After more than 17 years in the environmental, health, and safety (EHS) industry, Laynnea’s passion for EHS permeates her very being. It is no coincidence either that her life mantra, “Safety 1st, Safety Always,” instantly comes to mind for friends, family, and peers that know her well.

Laynnea Myles

She’s come a long way and serves as a fine example that hard work and pursuing one’s passion can lead to exceptional results. Laynnea got her start as an EHS intern at L’Oréal and has since worked her way up to become the Environmental, Health and Safety Assistant Vice President for the world’s largest cosmetics company.

Although Laynnea has made many contributions in the EHS industry—her key expertise includes COVID-19 crisis management and EHS management systems and she’s a National Safety Council 2020 Rising Stars of Safety recipient—her biggest impact is motivating and empowering leaders to shift their mindset from viewing safety as a priority to a value.

“In five years, I see EHS being more of a value to people, which means companies would make it a value,” Myles shared with EHS Daily Advisor. “When we truly believe that EHS is a value then it will be a part of our DNA. If not, EHS will be a priority and priorities change depending on what is going on. We can’t say EHS is a value at an organization, but it’s not weighted in an employees’ performance review. We can’t say that EHS is a value if management at all levels is not held accountable for being advocates.

“We can’t say that EHS is a value, but do not have resources to support the EHS department and/or programs. When society truly shifts to EHS being a value instead of a priority, we will all benefit from the trajectory. I believe when that shifts happens, we will see incidents and mental illness cases drastically decreasing, enhanced EHS awareness programs taught to adolescents, and an impactful environmentally conscious society.”

In our latest “Faces of EHS,” meet Laynnea Myles. Read on to find out what she enjoys most about working in the EHS industry, her best mistake, and more.

What’s your favorite part about working in the industry? What’s your least favorite part, and how would you change it?

My favorite part about working as an EHS professional is that I am given an opportunity every day to help someone. The least favorite part of my job is when someone lets their ego get in the way of taking heed of what I have to say. When this happens, I challenge myself to find a different approach to get a message across in a way that is received regardless of how many times I have to repeat myself. I was taught that repetition is the essence of learning, so I use that motivation to push me to help influence others to be safe. 

It sounds like through your experience you really care about people, and you want to help them feel safe and comfortable, which is important in the industry. 

Letting people understand that the value of being safe is not for you, but it’s for them and the people they love and things that they enjoy doing.

What’s your best mistake and what did you learn from it?

My best mistake was not accepting a scholarship I had to an Ivy League School because of fear of not doing well. As I got older, I was able to realize that I cannot let fear dictate my life. I learned that even if I “failed” at something that it meant I had an opportunity to learn from my mistakes and another chance to get it right.

Who is/was your biggest influence in the industry?

My biggest influence in the EHS industry was the late Dr. Lester M. Bynum. He was my first boss and a great mentor who taught me that EHS is not a destination, but it’s a journey of continuous improvement.

What are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of the moments I have when I’m told that I have made a difference in someone’s life and that my passion for EHS is scintillating. Additionally, having a great support system keeps me going, whether it’s spiritually, from my family, friends, mentors, or even my mentees. Being able to understand that what is for you is for YOU will help you in moments when you may want to give up.  For me, knowing that God can open doors that no man can close and close doors that no man can open always keeps me grounded during difficult times and situations.

Do you have any advice for people entering the profession?

My advice for people entering the profession is not to give up on yourself. In this profession you won’t know every single EHS regulation there is, so don’t get discouraged if you do not know the answer. However, what is important is knowing how to use your resources to find the answer, which is a great journey. Also, sometimes our passion can drive us to mental fatigue, and we have to be able to recognize those signs and take a mental wellness break. A mental wellness break can be as simple not eating lunch at your desk, but outside on a bench.