EHS stands for Environment, Health, and Safety. It’s a general term used to refer to laws, rules, regulations, professions, programs, and workplace efforts to protect the health and safety of employees and the public as well as the environment from hazards associated with the workplace. You can also think of it as what makes up the profession of occupational safety and health professionals (plus their good friends in the Environmental department).
Although EHS is a common way to abbreviate this, you’ll also see HSE or other versions. And sometimes you’ll see the addition of a “Q” for Quality, as in EHSQ.
We’ll learn a little more about EHS in this article, including who’s responsible for it and some tools used in the field.
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Let’s start by looking at those three letters E, H, and S and determining what they mean.
E stands for Environment. We’re talking about things like environmental releases and spills here.
H stands for Health. We’re talking about things that can make you ill here, like airborne particulates, biological pathogens, and radiation, and/or things that can harm you as a result of exposure, such as noise.
And S stands for Safety. We’re talking about things that can cause injuries here, such as getting caught in a moving machine or being run over by a forklift.
Why Is EHS Important?
The primary benefit of EHS, and workplace EHS programs, is the obvious one: preventing incidents such as injuries, illnesses, and harmful environmental releases.
In addition, EHS programs at work also show employees that companies care about their well-being. If you have an active EHS culture, your company may have fewer incidents. This will make your employees feel safer and more valued. And this will have a positive effect on employee morale, retention, productivity, and even hiring.
And consider this thought along those same lines. A recent study by the American Psychological Association showed that millennials rank safety as an issue of workplace stress higher than any other issue (and higher than earlier generations have). Makes sense for a generation that was raised in the shadows of 9-11, the Great Recession, school shootings, and Hurricane Katrina, right? And since more and more millennials are entering the workforce, this is going to become increasingly important.
Also, EHS programs increase customer loyalty. Many consumers today research these issues before deciding which companies will get their money. Why not tap into this EHS-friendly revenue stream, all for doing the right thing?
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As the Institute for Safety and Health Management puts it:
“An Environmental Health and Safety manager looks over the development and implementation of all the health and safety programs in the company. They are very much responsible for all employees’ safety at work and the use of proper safeguards. EHS managers also take the reins when it comes to the company’s compliance with all environmental standards and regulations.”
The responsibilities of an EHS manager are many, and may include:
Although we’re talking about an EHS manager above, it’s not uncommon for people to divide these responsibilities. For example, one person may have a primary responsibility for safety and health, and another may have a primary responsibility for environmental issues.
Organizations try to manage risks related to EHS hazards through EHS programs at the workplace. These programs attempt to identify, assess, and control hazards at work as well as train workers about the hazards and how to work in a safe and health manner, protecting their safety and health, the safety and health of others in the workplace, and the safety, health, and environmental conditions in their larger community.
Learning management systems are increasingly common for safety training purposes because they increase efficiency, reduce costs, save time, and improve learning results.
Most of these EHS software applications also now have compatible mobile apps that make it easier to use them in the field and/or when it’s most convenient for you–even at home.
Question: What Aspects of EHS Are You Most Interested In?
We hope this introduction gave you a better idea of what EHS is, why it’s important, who plays a role, what some of the techniques are, and more. What part of EHS do you work most closely in? Or what would you like to learn more about?
Leave us a comment here and let us know what you do and what’s on your mind.
And please DOWNLOAD THE FREE GUIDE TO SAFETY TRAINING, below.
EHS Training Guide
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