Why Is Environmental Health and Safety so Important?
Environmental safety and health programs are an essential part of your life. You may not think about your EH&S manager in the company where you work, however, that person works hard every day to make sure the hazards in your workplace are minimized so that you can stay safe at work. You may be aware of some of the EHS practices at your workplace because you perform safety protocols, but you may not know why environmental safety and health are important too.
What Is EHS (Environment, Health, and Safety)?
Environment, Health, and Safety, or EHS is a system that includes laws about professionals, programs, and workplace behaviors that protect the health and safety of people in the workplace. Today, many people spend the majority of their time in an environment that does not include health and safety protocols which can significantly increase the risk of an on-the-job injury. You may think of EHS systems as additional efforts to protect employees, the environment, and the public from hazards. What makes an occupational safety, and health system work is slightly more complicated than following a safety system, but overall, EH&S is everyone’s responsibility.
What Do E, H, and S Mean?
Looking at each letter individually, you can see why each part of the EHS system is so important.
- E is for Environment. This refers to things like spills, chemical release, and other environmental problems that can increase health risks for people and animal inhabitants of the area. Oil spills, radioactive waste, trash, sewage, and other messes can also be categorized here.
- H is for Health. Maintaining your good health means that you have to practice personal protection from airborne particles, biological pathogens, radiation, and other environmental toxins including pollution and even noise that can harm you. Staying healthy has specific challenges at every age so, for some people, additional protective measures may be necessary to maintain good health.
- S is for Safety. Ensuring that accidents, injuries, and incidences do not occur is all part of safety. Getting caught up in equipment, tripping, and falling, or falling prey to chemical spills happens. However, workplace safety is always a priority for a company that operates with active EHS systems in place.
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Why Is Environmental Health and Safety Important in the Workplace?
There are so many benefits of using EHS workplace programs not only for the company but also for the employees. Primarily, their programs prevent accidents, illness, and injuries while reducing environmental toxins, and spillage. There are historical examples of workplace accidents that occurred because proper EHS efforts were not made. Well-known instances include the horrible Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010 and the fire, and the collapse of the Savar building in Bangladesh in 2013.
You may also know of some workplace accidents, such as slip and fall, or incidents that happened to yourself. If you think back, you’ve probably seen something in your work environment that could have caused an accident or something even more dangerous. Many dangers are lurking in and around your workplace. Some people inside offices are exposed to workplace hazards less severe than the ones compared to outdoor workers, but everyone is exposed to some amount of risk in the workplace.
How EHS Systems Work
Workplace EHS awareness starts with a good manager. That manager takes in a variety of roles in the company, also developing EHS plans and protocols that must be followed by every member of the staff to effectively reduce health risks. With a confident and educated EHS manager in place, a company can be comfortable giving each employee their protocols to perform during each working day.
The EHS Manager will identify workplace hazards that are most relevant to your business. Then you will get the necessary information needed to gain real benefits for your health. OSHA, occupational safety and health association confirms that eh&s programs offer benefits that translate to real results for employees’ well-being.
Also, EHS programs in the workplace help to develop a company culture based on active EHS awareness. The EHS workplace culture is linked to fewer incidents as well as a positive overall effect for the company. Fiscal improvements also have been noted as a benefit of implementing their protocols as these programs increase customer loyalty.
What Does an EHS Manager Do?
An EHS manager has many responsibilities including identifying, removing, reducing, and otherwise controlling hazards, and risks.
The responsibilities of an EHS manager include:
- Managing the safety and health programs
- Performing industrial hygiene activities and working with hygienists
- Performing hazard analysis in the workplace
- Performing incident investigations
- Helping safety committees
- Providing environmental, health, and safety training
- Ensuring EHS compliance with all regulations
- Performing walkthroughs, making safety observations
- Identifying hazards
- Performing risk management
- Gathering and analyzing EHS indicators
- Improving employee and operational performance
What Is EHS Software?
In some businesses, computer software that addresses EHS training is needed for employees to learn new behaviors. In the workplace, individuals can use any number of the vast amount of company EHS software applications available through the company’s management program. If you are an EHS manager, ask about the software to make your responsibilities easier to organize.
EHS software applications manage:
- Health and safety management programs
- Occupational safety data sheets (SDSs)
- Entry permits, hot work permits, and similar written permits programs
- Incident investigations
- Spill response
- Emissions tracking
- EHS training and much more
Environmental health and safety systems are an essential part of workplace practices. As an employee, you must talk to your employer about EHS protocols so that you can maintain your workplace health and safety. Further, you may need to learn who your company’s EHS manager is so that you can gain a better understanding of how to properly integrate EHS behaviors into your everyday routine at work. If you want to have additional training for EHS practices, talk to your employer about their software for workplace education.
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