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What is EHS?
EHS stands for Environment, Health, and Safety. It is a term used to describe the framework that organizations use to manage their environmental, health, and safety responsibilities, it includes a wide range of activities and processes aimed at minimizing the risk of harm to people, property, and the environment.
Environmental aspects of EHS include managing waste, pollution prevention, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, conserving natural resources, and complying with environmental regulations.
Health and safety aspects of EHS focus on protecting workers and preventing accidents, injuries, and illnesses in the workplace. This includes identifying and assessing workplace hazards, implementing safety procedures and training programs, and complying with health and safety regulations.
EHS is a management system that organizations implement to ensure they are meeting their obligations to protect the environment, the health and safety of their workers, and the general public.
objectives of an EHS
Protecting the health and safety of employees: The primary objective of an EHS program is to ensure that employees are safe and healthy while performing their job duties.
Compliance with laws and regulations: EHS programs must comply with relevant environmental, health, and safety laws and regulations. This helps to ensure that the organization avoids legal and financial penalties for non-compliance.
Environmental protection: EHS programs aim to minimize the environmental impact of the organization’s operations. This includes reducing waste, conserving natural resources, and preventing pollution.
Operational efficiency: Effective EHS programs can improve operational efficiency by identifying and eliminating hazards and risks that can cause accidents, injuries, or delays in production.
Reputation management: A well-managed EHS program can enhance the organization’s reputation by demonstrating a commitment to environmental, health, and safety issues. This can help to attract customers, investors, and employees who prioritize sustainability and ethical practices.
EHS and its Scope
The scope of EHS (Environment, Health and Safety) encompasses a wide range of activities and considerations that are aimed at protecting people and the environment from harm. The scope of EHS can be broken down into several key areas, including:
Compliance with regulations: EHS programs must comply with applicable laws and regulations related to environmental protection, occupational health and safety, and other related areas.
Hazard identification and risk assessment: EHS programs must identify and assess potential hazards and risks associated with workplace activities, products, and processes.
Incident management and reporting: EHS programs must establish protocols for responding to incidents and reporting incidents to relevant authorities.
Health and safety management: EHS programs must establish policies and procedures to manage workplace health and safety risks, including hazards related to ergonomics, noise, air quality, and other factors.
Environmental management: EHS programs must establish policies and procedures to manage environmental risks, including pollution prevention, waste management, and energy conservation.
Training and education: EHS programs must provide training and education to employees and other stakeholders on EHS policies, procedures, and practices.
Continuous improvement: EHS programs must establish mechanisms for continuous improvement, including ongoing monitoring and evaluation of EHS performance, as well as identification and implementation of best practices.
Note: EHS varies depending on the organization and the industry in which it operates, the overall goal of EHS is to promote and maintain a safe and healthy workplace and protect the environment from harm.
Statement of commitment: The policy should start with a statement of the organization’s commitment to environmental, health, and safety protection.
Scope: The policy should define the scope of the EHS program, including the activities, facilities, and locations that are covered.
Legal and regulatory compliance: The policy should state the organization’s commitment to complying with relevant laws and regulations.
Objectives: The policy should include specific EHS objectives that the organization aims to achieve, such as reducing waste, preventing accidents, and improving employee health and safety.
Roles and responsibilities: The policy should outline the roles and responsibilities of employees, managers, and other stakeholders in the organization’s EHS program.
Continuous improvement: The policy should emphasize the organization’s commitment to continuously improving its EHS program through ongoing monitoring, evaluation, and feedback.
Communication: The policy should highlight the importance of communication and engagement with stakeholders, including employees, customers, suppliers, and the general public.
An EHS policy should be a living document that is regularly reviewed and updated as necessary to reflect changes in the organization’s operations, regulatory requirements, and stakeholder expectations.
Conducting EHS audit
Conducting an EHS audit involves a systematic process of evaluating an organization’s compliance with relevant EHS regulations, standards, and best practices. The following are the steps involved in conducting an EHS audit:
Planning: Establish the scope and objectives of the audit, identify the audit team, and prepare the necessary audit checklists and protocols.
Conducting fieldwork: This involves gathering information and data through observations, interviews, document reviews, and other methods to assess compliance with EHS regulations, policies, and procedures.
Identifying non-conformities: Analyse the findings from the fieldwork to identify any non-conformities or areas of non-compliance with EHS regulations, standards, and policies.
Developing corrective actions: Develop an action plan that identifies the corrective actions needed to address any non-conformities and ensure compliance with relevant EHS regulations and policies.
Reporting and follow-up: Prepare a report detailing the findings, recommendations, and corrective actions required to address any non-conformities. Follow up on corrective actions to ensure that they have been implemented effectively and that compliance has been achieved.
By conducting EHS audits, organizations can identify potential risks and hazards in their operations, ensure compliance with relevant regulations and policies, and continuously improve their EHS management systems.
Who is an EHS Officer?
An EHS officer is responsible for ensuring that an organization’s EHS policies and procedures are implemented and adhered to. Their role is to identify and mitigate environmental, health, and safety risks in the workplace, and to promote a culture of safety and sustainability.
Some specific responsibilities of an EHS officer may include:
Conducting risk assessments: The EHS officer should identify potential hazards and risks associated with the organization’s operations and implement measures to mitigate these risks.
Developing and implementing EHS policies and procedures: The officer should develop and implement policies and procedures that ensure compliance with environmental, health, and safety regulations.
Training employees: The EHS officer should ensure that employees are trained on EHS policies and procedures and are aware of their responsibilities regarding environmental, health, and safety issues.
Monitoring compliance: The officer should monitor the organization’s compliance with EHS policies and procedures and ensure that corrective actions are taken when necessary.
Investigating incidents: The EHS officer should investigate accidents, incidents, and near-misses to identify the root causes and implement measures to prevent reoccurrence.
Communicating with stakeholders: The officer should communicate with employees, managers, and other stakeholders about EHS issues and initiatives and promote a culture of safety and sustainability.
Keeping up-to-date with regulations: The officer should keep up-to-date with relevant environmental, health, and safety regulations and ensure that the organization remains compliant.
The EHS officer plays a critical role in promoting a safe and sustainable workplace by identifying and mitigating environmental, health, and safety risks and promoting a culture of safety and sustainability.
Industries that manages EHS
Manufacturing: This includes industries that involve the production of goods, such as automotive, aerospace, food and beverage, and electronics.
Construction: This includes companies that build and maintain infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, buildings, and tunnels.
Energy and Utilities: This includes industries that generate and distribute power, such as oil and gas, electricity, and water and wastewater treatment.
Chemicals: This includes industries that produce and distribute chemicals, such as pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and fertilizers.
Healthcare: This includes hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities that need to ensure the safety and wellbeing of patients, staff, and visitors.
Transportation: This includes industries that involve the movement of goods and people, such as logistics, aviation, and rail.
Retail: This includes industries that sell products and services to consumers, such as supermarkets, pharmacies, and online retailers.
Government and Public Sector: This includes government agencies and organizations that provide public services, such as law enforcement, emergency services, and environmental protection.
All industry that involves workplace safety, environmental protection, or regulatory compliance will have a need for EHS management.