Environmental Health and Safety Managers have a lot on their plates. From developing an organized system for following and complying with environmental regulations, to managing waste and/or reducing the business’ carbon footprint, there are a growing number of data points to keep track of and systems to optimize.
How to Do More with Less
With over 2/3 of EH&S professionals feeling like their department is currently understaffed, it is important to find ways to accomplish more with fewer resources.
One of the keys to accomplishing this is to know where certain activities can be scaled back:
- Streamline Regulatory Tracking: Underutilized subscription services might be able to be scaled back, and focusing on fewer, high quality resources will reduce the amount of information to process.
- Improve Internal Communications: Try to reduce the recipients of emails and participants in meetings to only the bare minimum. Many employees complain about a deluge of information sent to them from multiple departments.
- Leverage Software Automation: Many responsibilities of EH&S managers are now organized and tracked with intuitive software that streamlines the time and costs needed. For example, Wastebits provides a software-based solution to managing and communicating around waste profiles, including real-time notifications to keep everyone up-to-date. Other software solutions provide additional benefits that can save time and reduce the overhead needed for effective EH&S management.
- Prioritize Certifications: There are a growing number of EHS certifications, some of which add more value to the organization than others. Focus on some of the core certifications (CSP, REA, CHMM, CIH), and deliberately pass over some others in order to save time and cost on training and testing.
Systematize Continuous Improvement
Toyota is a well-known example of a company with continuous improvement processes built-in to their company culture. Toyota management teams at each facility meet every morning to discuss safety and other metrics of importance at a manufacturing plant. In these meetings, clipboards are passed around asking team members for any input on safety issues, injury, or general improvement. The question they are all asked is: “How is your process?”
After these meetings, managers meet with workers individually to discuss solutions, which empowers the workers to develop a safer, better system for their daily production responsibilities. In addition, managers are encouraged to become more active in the EHS conversation.
When the manufacturing floor sets and achieves measurable gains, within quick feedback loops on a regular basis, it is both motivating and team-building. This, in turn, results in further improvement activities and higher morale.
EHS Departments are exposed to five major EH&S risk areas:
- Workplace physical and health hazards
- OSHA non-compliance enforcement penalties
- Environmental releases
- EPA non-compliance enforcement penalties
- Negative publicity
In each of these risk areas, clear goals must be established and prioritized in order to mitigate risk. These goals must be clearly communicated, and supported by key stakeholders and influencers in order to remain a top priority. With clear communication of priorities and measurable outcomes, there is a significant increase in participation moving towards the solution.
Teamwork & Activity Management
In order to improve EH&S activities throughout an organization, a focus on collaboration and communication skills is imperative. In July’s NAEM Member Spotlight, Christy Confar states:
“You don't need to know everything technically to have a great EHS&S career, but you definitely need to have people skills because the job requires a lot of collaboration and communication both internally and externally.”
- Christy Confar, EHS&S Manager, Environmental Programs at BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc.
In addition to personnel training in communication and teamwork, the use of tools & software can increase the value of communication efforts. Modern EH&S software can help you:
- Increase compliance
- Manage corrective and preventative action
- Stay on top of priorities and promote accountability
- Establish standardized and efficient task management processes
Identify Areas Where Change Can Happen
Nobody knows your business better than you do. The most valuable opportunities for change come from combing what is available in your data with the insight you bring to the table. By leveraging software solutions, cutting out inefficiencies, and improving communication and collaboration across the organization, your EH&S services will improve and risks will be reduced.