The integration of an EHS Software in an organization can immensely contribute to the effective implementation of workplace safety practices. The reason is because there are already a lot of individuals who are becoming interested in an organization’s approach to laboratory environmental health and safety (EHS) management that includes laboratory personnel, customers, clients, supplier, the students (if applicable), the community, shareholders, contractors, insurers, and the regulatory agencies. There is already a growing number of organizations that have attached the same importance to high standards in EHS management as they do to other key aspects of their activities. These high standards, however, will demand a structured approach to the identification of hazards and the control of work-related risks.
Role of EHS Software to EHS management
There is already a comprehensive legal framework that already exists for laboratory EHS management. With this, it will require organizations to manage their activities so that they can anticipate and prevent circumstances that might result in occupational injury, ill health, or to an adverse environmental impact. This is where the integration of an EHS software comes into play because the process of manually monitoring all of the flags and hazards will be greatly minimized, thereby providing for an efficient and effective implementation of the EHS policies in the organization. The EHS performance of an organization as integrated into the EHS management with other aspects of the organization will also be improved through an EHS Software. There are also a lot of effective EHS management features that are identical to management practices which are advocated by proponents of quality assurance and business excellence.
Within a lot of organizations, there are already some elements of EHS management that are already in place, like policies, risk assessment records, however, there are still other aspects that need development. As part of that development, the organization should consider integrating these data in an EHS software in order to easily provide analysis and resolutions on critical areas. It is also essential that all of the necessary elements are being incorporated into the overall EHS management system. The manner and the extent as to which individual elements are to be applied will depend on factors like the size of the organization, the nature of the activities of the organization, and the conditions in which the organization operates. The organization should carry out an initial status review especially if they do not have an established EHS management system yet. The output of this initial status review will then provide information regarding the scope, adequacy, and the implementation of the current management system. If there is no existing formal management system, or the organization is a new one, then the initial status review should indicate the position of the organization with respect to managing risks.
Why is EHS Software important?
One obvious primary benefit in integrating EHS software in the workplace is that it helps in preventing incidents like injuries, illnesses, and harmful environmental releases.
The Triangle Shirtwaist fire incident was one of the classic and most horrible historic examples that manifested the need for EHS efforts. The Bhopal/Union Carbide explosion in 1984, the Upper Big Branch Mine-South explosion of 2010, the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010, and the fire and ultimate downfall of the Saval building in Bangladesh were other well known and the more recent incidents that call for the need of EHS integration.
These hazards are real, that is why there really is a need to put in an EHS software that can provide real benefits to the organization. Thus, for example, there is this OSHA website on safety and health management programs that provides a lot of case studies that demonstrate these benefits.
Furthermore, the integration of EHS software at work will show employees that their company cares about their well-being. Thus, if your organization has an active EHS culture, then your company sure has fewer incidents in the workplace. This will also make the employees in the organization to feel safer and more valued as an individual component of the organization. With this, it will create a positive effect on employee morale, retention, productivity, including hiring.
There was a recent study conducted by the American Psychological Association that showed millennials are ranking safety as an issue of workplace stress higher than among other types of issues. This, of course, makes sense for a generation that was practically raised in the shadows of the 9-11 tragedy, the Great Recession, school shootings, and the devastating Hurricane Katrina. Thus, since there is already a growing number of millennials who are entering the workforce, the integration of EHS programs is going to be increasingly important in an organization.
This is just one way of how EHS programs can help provide a dramatic positive effect on your company’s bottom line. As an example, a certain study shows a direct correlation between the safety and health program and the stock performance of a company. There are websites that provide you with an online calculator that you can utilize to estimate the cost of health and safety incidents at your own workplace. You can give these websites a try so that you can see it for yourself.
With the integration of EHS programs, this also increases customer loyalty. There are a lot of customers today that are researching these issues before they go decide which companies will be getting their money. Your organization can consider tapping into this EHS-friendly revenue stream, by doing the right thing at the same time.
What to do before integrating an EHS Software?
- Establish an Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Policy
The top management of the organization should first set in place the procedures that will define, document, and endorse a formal Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) policy for their company. This policy should be able to deliver a clear outline of the roles and expectations for the organization, the faculty, the EHS personnel, and the individual employees or students. The policy should be developed in communication with the laboratory personnel to make sure that all major concerns have been properly addressed.
The EHS policy and the policy statement should be periodically reviewed, revalidated, and if necessary, revised by the top management as often as needed. This should also be communicated and be made readily accessible to all of the employees and be made available to relevant parties who are interested.
- There should be a commitment from the management
One of the elements that are widely recognized to be the most critical in order for the EHS program to succeed is the management’s commitment to EHS performance. Therefore, it is essential that the management system documentation will be able to institute management commitment with a formal statement of intent defining examples of how performance goals are supported.
- There should be planning
Planning is indeed an integral part of all the elements of the management system. And for the system to be effective, this will involve the design and development of suitable processes and organizational structure to manage EHS aspects and their associated risk control systems which are proportionate to the needs, hazards, and risks of the organization. It is equally important to deal with planning so to further deal with the health risks that might only become apparent after a long period of latency. This is also going to establish the objectives defining the criteria for judging the success or failure of the management system. The objectives should be identified on the basis of either the results of the initial status review, subsequent periodic reviews, or other available data.
When the applicable EHS aspects have been identified, a risk-based evaluation should be performed in order to determine the potential impact and adequacy of existing control measures. If there are additional controls or corrective actions needed in order to reduce risk to acceptable levels, these are going to be integrated into business planning. By categorizing each item in this manner, this will allow gaps that are identified to be prioritized and incorporated which is based on the level of importance and available resources.
There should be precaution when it comes to developing and disseminating new controls and corrective actions. If these requirements are perceived by the laboratory personnel as non-essential, then there is a potential for lower compliance within the organization and it may even create a loss of credibility on the part of the EHS personnel.
- Implementation of the EHS policy
The design of the management arrangements should be reflective of the organization’s business needs including the nature of their risks. But, there should also be appropriate activities across all of the elements of the model, stemming from policymaking, planning, implementation, performance measurement, audits, and change management, and management review.
Although it is the responsibility of every individual researcher to make sure that work is being performed in a prudent and safe manner, it is still in need to be formalized through the implementation of the EHS policy. These regulations, policies, and plans will never be able to cover every contingency, therefore it is important for these different groups to communicate with each other in order to ensure that new situations can be handled appropriately.