EHS is a general term for rules, standards, programs, and regulations that may protect the safety of employees and members of the public from work-related environmental hazards. There are lots of ways that organizations can protect their employees. Organizations can use EHS programs to identify, monitor and control existing, and potential work-related hazards in healthy ways. Even though there are lots of EHS programs, they aren’t enough.
Organizations must also implement certain strategies to promote safety. Keep reading to learn about a few ways that you can keep your EHS employees protected at work.
1. Use the Right Programs
Managing your paperwork for training, audits, and reporting can be a challenge. Without the right program, your employees may be overwhelmed. Find EHS software that can streamline transparency and document management. Some of the most important things to look for in the software include; safety, custom tracking, compliance, and modern tools.
With the right EHS management system, it is for organizations to comply with the existing regulations, and detect the risk of adverse events that may harm employees. EHS managers that focus on operational excellence save money in the long-run. Prioritizing employee health and safety may increase their productivity.
Companies that leverage technology for good performance can minimize work-related injuries and illnesses. They can reduce their environmental impact and safety concerns. The right software can reduce emergency work almost completely.
2. Understanding the Existing Environmental, Health and Safety Concerns
It is impossible to address EHS concerns if you don’t understand them. The management must put in some effort to understand existing threats and how to address them. Come up with ways to define and document EHS policies depending on your organization’s needs. Do your research and come up with an EHS policy that can:
- Mitigate losses that may arise from accidents or serious occupational exposures
- Improve EHS performance
- Comply with the existing regulations
Once you understand your policy and come up with a policy statement, review and revise it regularly depending on the changing needs. Top management must continue researching to detect emerging changes. That way, they can ensure that employees are always protected.
3. Employee Education
One of the most effective ways to protect your employees is by educating them. Lack of proper information is one of the main causes of security breaches. If they don’t have correct information about proper online behavior, the use of personal protective equipment, and data sharing. All security strategies should have employees as the lowest common denominator. Their education is not only important for the safety of your organization but for them as well. All organizations must use training programs that work. Even though it can be difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of a training program, you must come up with a strategy that works. Safety must be a part of your corporate culture.
Whether you plan on creating new regulations or enforcing the existing ones, you must have the assurance that all employees have understood them. Two-way communication is important for this. Employees should have the chance to seek clarification where necessary. Consider requesting that they all sign an acknowledgment. That way, you can hold them accountable if they fail to observe the guidelines.
4. Create a Safe Environment
Ensure that your employees work in an environment that is free of hazards. Identify the hazards in your place of work and the possible ways to address them. Some of the most important things to do include:
- Minimizing hazards
- Getting rid of falling objects
- Training your employees about the proper use of tools
- Training employees about cybersecurity, and how to identify threats
All employers have the responsibility to assess their environment and determine the appropriate PPE. When trying to make the workplace safe for employees, there are a few gaps to be considered. They include Regulatory compliance, near-miss tracking, integration, automation, and visibility.
5. Update Your Policies
Having policies in place is not enough. You must update them regularly to keep up with the emerging threats. They should outline everything that your employees need to know. This includes security threats and how to handle them. Your policy should cover:
- Visits by non-employees and how to handle them
- What areas are off-limit?
- Are there times when you need to heighten restrictions?
- How can visitors obtain authorization?
- What are the restrictions for employees, if any
- Visitor identification-should they provide a photo ID, pass, or badge? Do they need to be escorted?
- Can employees on leave visit?
- Can employees leave during non-working hours?
- How should former employees be treated?
6. Be Proactive
Being proactive allows you to solve problems before they happen. Take steps to address the welfare of your employees and protect your company against attacks. Your IT department should have effective strategies to control the access data, control your encryption keys, and encrypt private data. Encourage your employees to be proactive as well. Think about their environment, health, and safety ahead of time and make appropriate plans to protect them. One of the best ways to be proactive is by using software application that can:
- Manage EHS training
- Help in the management of your employee health and safety
- Help in incident investigation
- Manage spill response
With the right software, you can stay on top of all emerging issues. Set up regular audits to identify existing and potential hazards. Even though OSHA does not require companies to perform self- audits, they are a great way to determine where your organization stands. The extent and type of audit you perform depends on your needs. Plan for inspections, hazard and exposure assessment, permits, event investigations, and employee feedback. Do not wait until you have a problem.
7. Enforcing the Guidelines
EHS managers invest a lot of time and effort in creating safety guidelines for their employees. However, it is useless to have rules if they cannot be implemented. The guidelines exist to promote better working environments for employees and safeguard the interests of an organization.
Come up with a clear and effective strategy for guideline enforcement. It should be fair and consistent. If employees fail to comply with the existing guidelines, there should be consequences. Come up with a clear disciplinary system to discourage non-compliance.
Alternatively, managers may come up with an incentive system to reward compliant employees.
8. Proper Incident Management
All companies must have the skills and tools to keep records of workplace injuries and illnesses. They must be able to identify health concerns and track progress in addressing them. Without the right incident management tips in place, an organization may lose its employees. The remaining employees may have low morale and productivity.
Companies with reliable incident management techniques have good corporate images. They are likely to attract some of the top talents in their industries.
OSHA’s Recordkeeping regulation states that covered employers must prepare and maintain the records of all major occupational illnesses and injuries. The information is not only important to employers but also employees and OSHA. It makes it possible to evaluate workplace safety and understand the existing hazards. Without the right records in place, it may be difficult to manage incidents.
9. Management Review
The management of an organization should review their EHS management system regularly to ensure that it is effective, sustainable, and adequate. When conducting a review, some of the most important things to think about are:
- Assessing the opportunities for improvement
- Analyzing the need for change in your management system
- Reviewing your EHS policy and objectives
- Communications from all the relevant parties
- The results of your management system audits and external audits if any
- Preventive action
- Suggestions for future improvement
Eth results from a management review should state any decisions and actions that may relate to your EHS objectives and policies.
10. Chemical Hygiene Plan
All management systems should focus on identifying EHS concerns and avoiding them. Unless chemicals are controlled, they can result in injuries or illnesses. They may cause damage to the environment. All laboratories must focus on chemical safety. It is an OSHA requirement.
The goal is to minimize the exposure of employees to chemicals that could harm them.
According to the OSHA Laboratory Standard Hygiene Plan, a ‘Chemical plan’ is a written program that employers create and implement to set forth equipment, procedures, work practice, and PPE to protect their employees from the health hazards caused by chemicals in their workplace.
If an organization carries hazardous chemicals, employers must develop and implement the provisions of their Chemical hygiene plan. The plans must cover topics such as:
- Emergency preparedness
- Chemical management
- Employees’ responsibility for chemical hygiene
- Lab housekeeping
- Personal protective equipment
- Basic operating procedures
- Emergency action plans in case of accidents
- Compressed gas safety
- Radiation safety
- Environmental monitoring
- Basic training
- Chemical waste policies
11. Annual Chemical Inventory
It may be difficult to manage your chemicals if you don’t know how much you have. Keeping a chemical inventory is essential for the safety of any organization’s employees. Come up with a clear system to maintain accurate inventory of your chemicals. Benefits of regular chemical inventories include:
- Ensuring that the chemicals you have are stored properly
- Getting rid of expired or outdated chemicals
- Promoting the efficient use of laboratory space
- Replacing torn or missing labels
- Ensuring that you have appropriate shelving cabinets
- Updating hazard warnings
- Making it easy to find chemicals when you need them
- Minimizing the cost of educating employees about the available chemicals
- Compliance with record-keeping regulations
Creating a chemical inventory is not enough. You must update it regularly. All organizations should perform a physical inventory at least once every year. Even though different companies may have different ways of going about it, a basic chemical inventory should include the following:
- Chemical name (Including its synonyms) and Abstract Service number
- The location of a chemical within a room, and the room number
- The chemical manufacturer and owner
The information makes it possible to track chemicals when necessary and minimize the need for frequent inventories. Consider the safety needs of the employees who perform the inventory. Ensure that:
- They wear the relevant PPE
- They are familiar with the existing safety requirements
- They use a step stool to reach the chemicals on higher shelves
- They stop every other activity in the lab
12. Risk Management
If you prepare for possible risks adequately, you can prevent them before they affect your employees. Risk management does not only protect your employees but also improves their productivity. When they know that an organization has their best interest in mind, they can have better morale for the job. Preparing for risks can protect a business from both financial and people losses.
Risk management tools should apply to EHS organizations. They minimize job-related illnesses and injuries, improve workplace safety, and compliance with the existing regulations. With the right risk management strategies in place, you can save a lot of direct and indirect costs.
With a standardized system, reliability improves. It sets the pace for consistent improvement and a proactive approach to problems.
The role of an EHS manager in an organization cannot be overstated. Some of their responsibilities include:
- Job hazard analysis
- Implementing safety and health management programs
- Risk management
- Conducting incident investigations
- Industrial hygiene and collaborating with industrial hygienists
- Worksite safety observation
- Collecting and analyzing EHS lagging indicators
- Running safety committees
- Sustainability performance management
- Ensuring that the company is compliant with the existing regulations
The managers have lots of responsibilities and it may be necessary to split the tasks.
In conclusion, there are lots of ways to keep EHS employees safe at work. Some of them include risk management, being proactive, creating and implementing a chemical hygiene plan, using the right program, proper incident management, and proper employee education. The need for EHS software has increased significantly over the past few years. The right software can have lots of benefits. Some of them include: protecting the interests of employees, improving transparency, connecting employees, and saving time and money. Implement the options that apply to you depending on your organization needs and budget. In the end, keeping employees safe and happy is one of the most valuable investments a company can make.