What is EHS Compliance?
15 November 2022 - Evotix
EHS, or Environment, Health and Safety, is a broad term that refers to the laws, rules, regulations, professions and programs dedicated to protecting the safety and well-being of a workplace.
EHS compliance refers to industry regulations that layout the rules, policies, and protocols necessary for the upkeep of a healthy, safe and environmentally friendly workplace.
And why is EHS important? Well, by complying with EHS regulations, organizations can reduce incidents, improve productivity as well as bolster employee morale. Non-compliance can have a long-term, detrimental impact on organizations.
Official bodies exist to monitor EHS compliance. OSHA operates within the United States, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) oversees the UK and Safe Work enforces health and safety in Australia.
Why Do You Need EHS Compliance?
EHS compliance is a legal requirement and failure to comply can result in a number of serious consequences, including:
Injury, illness or death
Loss of reputation
Loss of customer support
Besides having a legal obligation to be compliant, adhering to EHS standards should be driven by a moral obligation on the part of your organization. Being EHS compliant provides your employees and the general public with solid evidence that you’re serious about their safety.
EHS compliance is no longer just ‘nice to have.’ In today’s world, companies can get in real trouble as a result of their lax EHS standards, which can greatly influence customer decision-making.
Disasters can happen as a direct result of EHS non-compliance. The West Fertilizer Co. explosion in West, Texas is a notable example of this. After failing to disclose unsafe stores of chemicals, as well as other safety violations, an explosion killed 14 people, including firefighters and rescue workers.
The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico is another heart-breaking reminder of the disastrous consequence of non-compliance. Multiple hazards were overseen and ignored, leading to the death of 11 people.
An incident doesn’t have to be catastrophic to impact an organization. Even much less dramatic events can have detrimental consequences for a company’s productivity levels and reputation. Adhering to EHS measures benefits your organization financially, as it enables you to dodge unnecessary downtimes, fines and lawsuits.
Under health and safety laws, employers are legally responsible for the health and safety of their workplace. The organization’s activities shouldn’t negatively interfere with the health or safety of its employees or the environment around them. Some responsibilities include:
Regular audits and inspections:
Employers have a legal duty to assess, control and eliminate workplace risks to protect their people. Audits and inspections identify potential problems and produce preventative plans to safeguard the organization’s people and working space.
Hiring an EHS manager:
Employers, especially in high-risk work environments, are responsible for ensuring a professional is in place to oversee the company’s compliance with relevant regulations. EHS managers also focus on proactively implementing new practices that can further improve EHS performance at their organization.
Necessary training should be provided to every employee. This should include training in line with relevant regulations, such as hazard communication and electrical safety. Employers are responsible for ensuring that regular and appropriate training is provided.
According to iHASCO, thousands of PPE-related injuries and accidents occur in the workplace as a result of its absence or misuse. It is the duty of the employer to provide appropriate safety equipment to their staff, to ensure that each employee stays safe. Employees should also be trained on how to correctly use and remove PPE.
EHS Compliance Regulations:
Hopefully what’s been made clear is that organizations must identify and conform to relevant regulations. EHS managers must ensure that the organization is up-to-date with the latest regulations. Regulations are frequently updated and it is important for organizations to check them regularly so they can ensure consistent compliance.
As an organization serious about workplace safety, your company should measure compliance against the current regulations and quickly seek to fix any problem areas. While it’s important to meet all of the relevant EHS standards, the process is not simply just ‘checking a box’ - it also steadily improves the EHS performance of the organization.
EHS Compliance Checklist:
This might sound like a lot to keep track of. Using a checklist is a great way to manage the process of measuring your EHS compliance.
Here is an example of an EHS compliance checklist:
Hazard communication: Ensure you have a hazard communication plan in place across your organization, this should include what to do in the occurrence of slips, trips and falls.
Emergency plan: Ensure you have a plan in place for emergencies, including fires, storms and workplace violence - with consideration to varying levels of seriousness.
PPE: Ensure your employees have the correct protective equipment to do their jobs safely. It’s also important that they know how to assess the quality of a piece of protective equipment before its used and the appropriate time at which a piece of protective equipment should be taken out of use.
Chemical Safety Program: Ensure that workers are educated about the identities and hazards of the chemicals used in the workplace.
Keep in mind that this checklist is only an example. Each organization will have local, state and federal regulations to comply with – as well as its own specific organizational requirements.
How Can Evotix Help?
Staying compliant means your EHS department must stay on top of recordkeeping and manage paperwork and forms relating to regulations. Evotix has a paper-free, entirely mobile software solution that can support a proactive approach to safety.
Evotix’s EHS Compliance Software aims to alleviate the stress and admin behind collating records and information. Instead of relying on manual processes, paper forms and spreadsheets, Evotix offers an alternative solution: manage all your safety data and activities in one integrated health and safety solution.
Our software provides:
Tools to prompt vital regulatory activities
Easy creation and submission of reports to regulators (HSE/OSHA)
Easy communication across your organization
Access to reports and dashboards
Audit and inspection tools
Tracking of training
Tracking of reporting
Staff engagement tools
EHS compliance is a moral and legal obligation for all companies – not just an option. Yet, the path toward compliance is not linear nor straightforward. The adoption of EHS compliance software is a great option for simplifying the process and ensuring that everyone gets home safe and sound at the end of each day.
To learn more about automating your EHS compliance, check out this eBook, 5 Requirements for Exceptional Health and Safety Leadership, which looks at the reasons necessary to invest in health and safety software.
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