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What is Environmental Health and Safety (EHS)?

What is the EHS, and how does it seek to protect employees at their workplace?
trees with long branches

When we hear about climate change, the first thought that comes to our minds is often how the Earth is suffering – but what we often neglect to remember is that the human species is in just as much danger as the planet.

It isn’t just a matter of the Earth becoming habitable for mankind, but the ozone depleting substances or various pieces of residual, toxic matter being omitted into the air as natural bodies of water are drying up due to climate change. 

👉 What is the EHS, and how does it protect humanity in the midst of climate change?

What is the EHS?

The EHS is an acronym where the E stands for ‘Environment’, the H for ‘Health’, and the S for ‘Safety’ – meaning the EHS is also referred to as the association for Environmental Health and Safety.

The ‘E’ in the EHS refers to the measures that are taken in order to protect the environment, the ‘S’ in EHS pertains to the precautions that should be taken on site with employee safety in mind, and the ‘H’ in EHS refers to the health of these same employees.
nvironment, Health & Safety (EHS)

The health and safety of employees are often referred to and managed together, whereas the Environmental component of EHS is tackled individually through the use of an environmental agency. 

Many companies across various sectors have implemented an EHS department in order to comply with various environmental, health, and safety measures. These departments usually offer jobs for those who are specialists in either the environment, health, or safety – as well as the opportunity to hire an EHS manager to oversee all of the operations in the EHS department.

Now that you know what the EHS is and what it stands for, why is it important?

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Why is the EHS important?

👉 EHS is important as it is the only entity that solely seeks the best interest of the employees by simultaneously protecting their health and safety in their work environments. 

For instance, EHS strives to protect employees from potential working hazards on site of employment – this is often the case in jobs with greater physical demands, but can also occur in places where toxic substances are infiltrating the air. While this is often meant to be the responsibility for employers in the United States, sometimes unforeseen instances occur and employees are put in harm's way that they wouldn’t have been otherwise without the assistance of the EHS. 

EHS is similar to the French Labour Code, where they protect employees by letting their employers know of potential health or safety protocols that should be taken in advance. However, the principle remains the same – that employee health and safety is pivotal to protect at all costs. 

More often than not, EHS departments strive to protect employee safety and health according to their Human Resource policies. This is because a company’s HR department is usually responsible for cultivating the company’s overall agenda regarding sustainability – which will often indirectly or directly include employee health and safety measures.

Therefore, solid HR and EHS departments have become a paramount asset to any organization seeking to improve their sustainability measures and their corporate responsibility.

an open space

EHS is also important due to the fact that it is continuously striving to improve the health and safety of employees, and environmental measures that are consequently impacted. New regulations come out annually for the EHS, meaning those with an EHS department have to remain nimble, open-minded, and subject for rapid implementation and improvement. 

👉 Most notably, the EHS is important in this day and age more than ever before due to the newfound awareness of companies to reduce their environmental impact, and protect their employees in the age of sustainability and corporate social responsibility. 

How do EHS managers oversee all of the operations conducted by the EHS?

What are the responsibilities of an EHS manager?

As an EHS manager, it is their responsibility to recognize, avoid, and mitigate the amount of risks that could occur and impact the health and safety of employees or put the environment in harm's way. According to the Institute for Safety and Health Management, the ultimate goal of an EHS manager is to oversee all of the developments being made to protect the health and safety of employees at a company. 

👉 In a sense, EHS managers are responsible for the amount of safety and precautionary measures taken to ensure that employees remain comfortable and safe at the workplace. EHS managers are also in charge of making sure that all new environmental legislation or required regulations are implemented in a timely and efficient manner. 

However, EHS managers are responsible for several more specific tasks in addition to ensuring the health and safety of their employees and monitoring the environmental measures taken by the company.

Some of the additional responsibilities of EHS include running a reliable safety and health management program, ensuring good hygiene throughout the workplace, execute incident investigations, analyzing the potential working hazards in a specific job role, assisting in safety committees, contributing to the delivery of EHS training, improving human and operational performance, incorporating the new rules for new hazards when necessary, and more.

Evidently, EHS managers play a pivotal role in maintaining the safety, health, and environmental protocols in a workplace. However, the responsibilities of an EHS manager are often divided up amongst many in the HR department to prevent stress or a lack of productivity. This way, health and safety measures and environmental regulations can each be given the individual attention they rightfully deserve. 

Has Environmental Health and Safety proved successful and necessary in the workplace? How do employees feel about EHS?

a woman who is giving a document

Why is EHS important for companies seeking to be successful? 

Nowadays, a successful business isn’t just about how much money a company is raking in – it’s about how they treat their employees, their loyalty to customers, and the efforts they make to improve upon sustainability and reduce emissions. Therefore, something like Environmental Health and Safety is more paramount than ever for any business looking to achieve global recognition. 

Companies that make EHS a priority will demonstrate to future employees, customers, and investors that they are socially responsible, willing to protect the environment, and create a safe and viable workplace for employees. In addition to this, EHS can be wildly beneficial to a company – as good EHS management can lead to improved productivity, stronger employee commitment as a result of their feelings of certainty and safety thanks to EHS, and even cost savings as mishaps will be less likely for companies with a well-established EHS system.

Greenwashing is a prevalent practice by many companies in order to convince customers that they are environmentally friendly and sustainable. An EHS system can help companies create tangible proof that they are committed to protect the environment and their employees well-being.

If companies do not demonstrate the importance of their employees' mental health and safety, it could result in investors and customers losing interest in the product or service offered by the business.
employees who are discussing

There are a lot of components a company should consider when establishing an EHS department. For instance, it’s imperative to allocate funding solely for EHS purposes: or else things like training, establishing safety management systems, personal protective equipment, new sustainability measures, and site improvements will be next to impossible. 

A company seeking to create a viable EHS system should also seek investments in other ways, such as providing employees with exquisite healthcare or the time and space for better communication. While it may take away time, and therefore money, for employees to have access to these things – it will result in employees that are better taken care of and ultimately, increased productivity for the company as a whole. 

Overall, EHS is clearly beneficial to any company seeking long-term, global success. How can your company start implementing EHS values throughout the company?

How can your company get started with EHS?

One of the most surefire ways to ensure that EHS values are being met in a workplace is to establish an EHS program. This way, companies can be sure that their best efforts are being put to avoid environmental, safety, or health risks. The goal of EHS programs is to recognize the potential work hazards that could impact the health and safety of employees, others in the workplace, and the overarching community. 

Establishing an effective EHS management system can be daunting at times, and that’s why some companies recruit third party assistance to help them create personalized approaches to ensure that safety, health, and environmental protocols are being met within the company. If your company chooses to seek the help of a third-party source to establish a viable EHS system – look for one that is ISO certified.

Some companies also refer to the use of EHS software to improve the EHS management and productivity in their workplaces. These software applications usually assist companies to cultivate a better health and safety program, analyze safety data sheets at a faster rate than humans are able in order to be time efficient, manage all of the necessary permits required for an effective EHS management system, provide expertise on incident investigations, track emissions, and help to manage EHS training.

a team of smiling people

A good EHS program isn’t just something you set and forget – it requires consistent monitoring and efforts to improve upon the already existing measures put in place. For instance, EHS managers should constantly seek new investments to aid in the development of their EHS system, periodically provide new training or education courses to their staff, and keep up-to-date on the newest EHS legislation. 

Overall, EHS is important for the environment, employees, and the future success of a company. The important thing to remember, is that success in implementing a good EHS system isn’t contingent on the size of the company. A good EHS department can be achieved by any company – as long as they have their hearts in the right place, sitting right next to commitment and honest intentions.

What about Greenly? 

If reading this article about EHS has made you interested in reducing your carbon emissions to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

It can be challenging to determine the best solutions to Environmental Health and Safety in your business, but don’t worry – Greenly is here to help. Click here to schedule a demo to see how Greenly can help you find ways to effectively implement and utilize green finance. 

Greenly can help you make an environmental change for the better, starting with a carbon footprint assessment to know how much carbon emissions your company produces. Click here to learn more about Greenly and how we can help you reduce your carbon footprint.

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