Some Thoughts About EHS Management Systems

Fairly often, we get called in to inspect an environmental health and safety management system because there is concern that it is not functioning at a reliable confidence level. Some times that call comes with urgency as a company is facing regulatory scrutiny due to lapses. And other times we are asked to conduct an audit that then reveals EHS management system deficiencies and/or defects. Frankly, some things we can fix but other times, the problem lies with the company culture; if it is off the rails to a degree that even the most robust EHS management system won’t get traction. Why? Well we find these common items: rather than reporting to a seemingly neutral body such as corporate finance or legal department, the EHS administrator report to manufacturing where there may be pressure put upon them to under-report or ignore EHS deficiencies; corporate culture is devoid of and EHS aspect in their mission statement with predictable results; personnel hired to administer EHS know less about the process than they should. Problems tend to come from a number of these aspects so the fix can be difficult especially if corporate culture is not aligned optimally.  Additionally, hiring top-shelf EHS professionals is not everyone’s goal although h it should be. Sometimes companies make do with a placeholder instead of a seasoned subject matter expert and the results are predictable. And, because the EHS realm still seems to be foreign to hiring managers, in some cases, the person put into that position simply lack the requisite suite of skills to promote a proactive, competent EHS management system; not everyone is equally proficient or effective. But even the best professional will have an uphill fight if the culture is not aligned for success (read: has placed other values first).

Building an Effective EHS Managements System

If your EHS goals and objectives are true, then you may have to make basic corrections to corporate goals and objectives to accommodate them. If your business had received regulatory citations, especially for relatively sundry and basic violations, then you likely need to identify whether there is sufficient authority given to EHS administrators without hindrance by some of the shortcomings we note here. In some business environments, an eye on profitability and lean operating costs can blind managers and locations to the need to follow best business practices related to meeting environmental as well as workplace occupational health and safety requirements.  We are always happy to come in and make practical assessment of your operations and provide quality, real-world best-practice solution options to help set right, maintain and improve your EHS management systems.


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