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Safety Management Insights

Who Should Lead Your EHS Program

Posted by Doug Shoemaker on Jan 20, 2020 1:27:48 PM

When you think of your company’s EHS program does a single name, title, or department come to mind? If so, it may be time to reevaluate how your organization handles EHS!

Confining EHS to one person, or office, in your organization does not allow you to have a flourishing safety culture and may actually be hurting your company.

Safety culture can be tough to nurture, but a good one will make all the difference in preventing expensive and/or frequent workplace incidents. By pigeonholing EHS you are not allowing the most important part of safety culture, the “culture”. In order for a good culture to exist it should start with the leadership of the company and work its way down to every employee of the company, allowing everyone to take ownership in EHS related tasks. For tips to increase your company safety culture, check out this video!

How do you get everyone to lead your EHS program?

Your program is heavily influenced by the collective values, beliefs, attitudes, and norms that exist within your organization. The first step of changing your EHS program for the better is establishing the safety culture in senior management. If they are committed to improving safety, helping the EHS program succeed, and empowering everyone in the organization to be a part of the solution, then the organizations culture can start to grow. An easy way to start empowering the employees is with EHS software. As support becomes recognized by the employees it starts forming a culture where employees look out for one another and encourage self-reporting of injuries without fear of judgement or consequence. This will help your EHS program immensely as it will start to allow the trending of causal factors which can be used to proactively prevent incidents.

How to measure the involvement in your EHS program.

Establishing a good culture is one thing, but how can you be sure it is actually making a difference? Measure it!

Step 1. Review existing involvement

Get familiar with documents, programs, and policies. Look specifically for areas that they are being purposefully tied into EHS. For example, what are the policies around reporting incidents and do they encourage or discourage reporting? Pay attention to how communication is being handled: is it being validated and addressed or is it being pushed aside. Is there a safety or EHS committee, and what rewards and incentives have been established to encourage company involvement? After reviewing these things consider what are the key indicators of EHS success in your company and start tracking these items. As you make changes use these as the gauge to measure whether your EHS program is improving.

Step 2. Communicate

After assessing what your current baseline is, communicate to your employees that you will be performing EHS program assessments and what that entails for them. This is your first real opportunity to start making it a positive experience for the employees. By keeping employees informed on findings and goals you will encourage them be open and honest, especially if you provide them a means to communicate that is anonymous in the beginning. Be sure that they know you are not looking for fault, but rather trying to find opportunities to proactively improve your EHS program.

Step 3. Conduct a walkthrough

After informing the employees what will be taking place, but also early in the site visit, take a tour of the facility. Make sure to visit all areas where work is in progress, paying attention to how tasks are taking place and the basic safety issues, environmental concerns, and health risks that exist in on site. Be sure to take note of behavior and interaction between employees and their supervisors so that any cultural issues can be addressed later.

Step 4. Involve leadership

At this point you should have some idea of where your company’s EHS program stands and some thoughts on how to improve it. Schedule a half hour discussion with management and key personnel to bring them up to speed. Thank the leaders in advance for their support and make sure they are on board with your EHS program initiative. Make sure they understand that the goal of this is to improve the EHS program but that the activities associated with doing so should not be detrimental to operations and production.

Step 5. Conduct EHS surveys

Based on the metrics that you have established as being the key indicators of your EHS programs success, conduct surveys throughout all levels of the organization to see how others feel the program is performing and to gauge their level of interest in improving it.

Step 6. Conduct interviews

Gather your perceptions, current numbers, and incident histories and come up with a good cross-section of employees. Conduct 10 employee group interviews held as focus groups to dig deeper into the issues that are currently being faced and to discuss plans to improve them. This helps the employees get involved and feel like they can actually make an impact.

Step 7. Provide a report of your findings

After all this work you should have an idea of what you need to measure and how you can improve it. Provide it as a report to the leaders in your company and then create processes around continuous measurement and improvement of the items in the report. Review it regularly and keep employees updated so they feel their help is making a positive impact.

Who should lead your EHS program?


Not sure where to start measuring your program? Download our free EHS checklist and start today!