The EHS definition is a simple one. It encompasses Environment (E), Health (H), and Safety (S).
- Environment – What is the potential impact of the organization’s operations on the environment? What are the potential risk factors?
- Health – Are there occupational health hazards involved? Are these dangers transparent and are they being proactively managed?
- Safety – Do employees have the equipment and processes they need to keep themselves safe? Are the equipment and worksite as safe as possible?
EHS management includes: ensuring the right EHS training, getting the right EHS software, maintaining EHS certification, and managing EHS on the field. EHS management needs to ensure that employees have the right training, processes, and equipment to protect both themselves and the environment.
EHS managers are responsible for the organization’s ability to maintain a safe workplace. They must respond to and mitigate threats — and proactively build processes within the organization to foster a culture of EHS. But that doesn’t mean EHS managers act alone. Even the best EHS managers will find themselves powerless if they aren’t backed by executives and key stakeholders. Within the EHS team, there may be a supervisor, team members, and general safety and health advocates within all levels of the organization.
Ultimately, EHS managers are the ones directly accountable for EHS, but everyone in the organization is responsible for it. EHS managers will outline employee handbooks (to protect both employees and the environment) and build processes, but employees will be the ones who need to follow the appropriate safety protocols. General managers and supervisors will need to report when they think EHS standards aren’t being met, and stakeholders will need to allocate the right budget toward EHS processes.
To make the job easier, many EHS managers use EHS platforms. These platforms are able to provide the forms and documents EHS management requires, in addition to tracking deadlines and corrective actions. Some organizations manage EHS in-house and will use these platforms directly. Other organizations use an EHS consultant, who will often use these platforms to interface with the relevant government entities and their clients.
EHS Management Systems
Just as Enterprise Resource Planning solutions help with resource management, EHS management software makes it easier for EHS managers to function.
Through EHS management platforms, EHS policies can be outlined and followed. The EHS department or EHS consultant is able to achieve better compliance and is able to track and resolve issues as they occur. Issues are more likely to be tracked down quickly and less likely to become forgotten. EHS compliance software will track deadlines for administrators and notify them of when forms need to be filed, in addition to keeping those forms as a paper trail. Many EHS software solutions even connect directly with the entities that have required reporting.
EHS professionals can learn EHS management systems on their own, through an EHS consultant, or with an EHS course. Either way, it’s an important way to ensure that organizations have the support they need for better EHS compliance. The consequences of poor EHS compliance cannot be overstated; not only could it lead to fines and penalties, but it could also lead to unsafe working conditions and direct harm to the environment.
EHS management platforms make it easier for EHS professionals to maintain and manage EHS with greater proficiency. They also reduce the amount of time it takes for EHS professionals to do this — thereby freeing time up for other important projects and tasks. An EHS department can potentially become a single person, or companies can build an EHS department rather than relying on an entire EHS consultant.
There are many EHS management systems out there, but many organizations will choose the one that supports their industry or their location the best. EHS regulations differ from place to place, with different reporting requirements, and different reporting locations. When looking for EHS management solutions, organizations should:
- Compare the features and costs of each platform. Comparing two platforms may not always be an apples-to-apples comparison. As an example, one might collect EHS data and send it in, while another might just provide forms that the organization needs to fill out.
- Look at the reviews of the platform. Every platform has some negative reviews. But if all the reviews consistently mention the same issues, it’s more likely that those issues are real and need to be addressed.
- Find a platform that matches the company’s industry and size. Industry and size differences matter when it comes to regulations. If a platform has already been used in a company’s industry, it’s more likely to meet its requirements.
As with any technology solution, companies want to find EHS platforms that are well-supported, stable, and affordable. Often, they will have a few to pick from that their local government accepts documents from. Either way, it should help the company round out its EHS policy.
Health and Safety Management Software
Let’s start with the systems of EHS management software. The most vital parts of EHS management software have to do with the reporting and management of incidents. These incidents may vary depending on the industry. Organizations have to be able to track incidents if they are to mitigate the issues that led to them in the first place. Through EHS management software reviews and demos, companies can find the health and safety management software most likely to work for them.
EHS management software will also include proactive measures and processes. That includes drawing up manuals and checklists (occasionally from templates) and creating the right processes. An EHS manager may need to track not only active incidents, but also equipment, training, and whether proper safety protocols are being followed. The EHS management system PDF or EHS management system PPT, provided by the company, will go over its unique benefits. The EHS management system manual will usually be used in conjunction with tech support to help ease employee transition.
Consider that Construction Health and Safety Management Software will differ from Restaurant Health and Safety Management Software. There are different processes and activities to track, and while there may be solutions that are broad enough to encompass both, they will likely still need to be tailored for the organization.
Today, modern EHS management solutions can use AI to detect patterns or trends related to EHS. They may be able to identify the fact that spills are occurring with specific machinery more than others, the fact that a single employee has had more incidents than others, or that incidents are more likely to happen at a certain time of day. This gives the EHS manager core insights into how they can help improve safety.
Health and safety software may have manuals; an EHS management system manual can outline everything the organization needs to know about the system itself. They may also be able to help produce manuals for employee safety and environmental health. And finally, there are EHS templates. An environmental health and safety management system template can be used to create an organization’s processes, procedures, and requirements so that the organization doesn’t need to develop these materials from scratch.
EHS management platforms are designed to help regulatory compliance and improve adherence to policies. However, they still do need an EHS manager to ensure that everything within the platform is still applicable to the organization.
EHS Roles and Responsibilities Matrix
An EHS Roles and Responsibilities Matrix is a responsibility chart that maps out every task, milestone, or key decision involved in completing a project. Through this matrix, responsibilities are assigned to each role per action item, and accountable personnel members are assigned to ensure that every task is completed.
EHS management software can help adhere to these EHS management standards (you can view an EHS Standards PDF or EHS Documents PDF for a more thorough understanding of these standards and the rationale behind them). EHS management system software will often contain tools for creating a responsibilities matrix, alongside other EHS management system functionality, such as being able to flag things for notice.
The EHS matrix makes it easier for organizations to meet RACI: Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed:
- Responsible parties are the ones who provide support for environmental health and safety.
- Accountable parties are the ones who are held accountable in the event that EHS fails.
- Consulted parties are the ones who are consulted for more information about processes and procedures.
- Informed parties are the ones who are informed about processes and procedures.
The RACI is a useful tool that is intended to reduce risks to an organization. It shows who needs to be notified when, who needs to be aware of what, and who is ultimately responsible or accountable for processes and changes. With a clear matrix of facts, employees, supervisors, and the C-suite are all clear on what they need to be doing individually and together to support EHS. The clear responsibilities and accountability are, the more likely it is that individuals are going to follow those responsibilities.
A significant number of EHS issues occur because employees are not engaged or not empowered to act. Without RACI, they may feel as though it isn’t within their purview or skillset to intervene when risks arise. RACI gives them permission to act — and even the expectation that they will do so.
What is EHS Management System?
To maintain EHS, an organization first needs an EHS management system. This begins by declaring the parties involved within the EHS department; the members, the officers, and a full EHS officer roles and responsibilities chart. Once this has been settled, the EHS department can work to develop an EHS plan template or EHS program template. They can use EHS programs examples to develop a program and plan that will work for them.
A health and safety management system template can be customized to an organization, to ensure that the organization isn’t missing any steps, and to reduce the amount of the time the organization has to spend developing its own materials. With an HSE management system template, the organization is able to hit the ground running, and modify the strategy as desired to suit their own operations. There are integrated management system manual template free download websites that have everything an individual might need, in a spreadsheet or document.
An environmental health and safety template won’t give the company everything it needs, but it’s a great starting point. Individual EHS management system elements will vary.
Of course, EHS management system standards are going to vary by the type of the company and the size of the company. One EHS management system may have a few pages of processes and procedures, while another might have dozens or even hundreds. Either way, it’s important that the responsible parties look over the EHS system, its programs, and its properties, and ensure that these policies are going to be able to meet their own unique standards.
Once processes are in place, an EHS management platform can be purchased. An EHS management platform will make it easier for EHS professionals to protect the organization, by automating day-to-day tasks, automatically tracking deadlines and incidents, and improving upon coordination.
However, regardless of how much technology is in place, the core resource of the EHS management system will be the people involved. The people who are within the EHS system must be empowered to act and must know what actions they need to take under specific circumstances The better trained the EHS department and EHS professionals are, the more likely they are to be able to mitigate threats quickly.
With an EHS management system, organizations are able to take charge of their own safety. They are able to ensure that their employees are safe, reduce the chances of risk and disruption, and improve upon their own stewardship toward the environment. But today, many organizations need to deal with potentially harmful chemicals, equipment, and environmental hazards — and that means they can need some help. The right software, established processes, and team are all critical to improving upon accountability.
If you’re interested in how Encamp helps EHS managers deliver consistent processes and first-rate compliance programs, learn more at our free webinar.