We thought it might be useful to write an article that provides answers to some of the common questions people ask about EHS. Please feel free to share this information and we trust they will be of value in providing some basic EHS (Environmental, Health and Safety) definitions.
Quick Links to the Definitions
What is EHS?
EHS stands for Environment Health and Safety. In business, EHS is the discipline of limiting or reducing a company’s impact to the environment and protecting the health and well being of a company’s workers and the community.
What is the Role of EHS?
The role of EHS is to ensure companies operate in compliance with the applicable environmental and occupational health and safety regulations. Beyond compliance, EHS also concerns itself with the promotion of an environmentally responsible corporate culture and the creation of a workplace that values safety and worker well being.
Why is EHS Important?
Business activities can damage the natural environment and can also put human health and wellbeing at risk. The discipline of EHS looks for economic ways to limit or reduce a company’s impact on the environment and ensure that adequate training and protective measures are in place so employees are not exposed to harmful chemicals or activities.
How do EHS Programs Work?
- identifying workplace hazards
- taking steps to reduce accidents
- limiting exposure to harmful substances or situations
- training employees on proper use of protective equipment and to ensure they respond safely to emergencies when they happen
Why is EHS Compliance Important?
EHS is needed to balance the tendency for companies to strive for profit without due regard for the natural environment and worker safety. The discipline of EHS grew in the 1960s in response to recognizing the environmental impact of pesticides and hazardous chemicals on birds and other fauna. Unionization of workers through the 20th century was driving force in developing the Occupational Health and Safety regulations to protect workers and ensure a safe and healthy work environment.
What are EHS Regulations?
EHS regulations are legal standards that specify the minimum requirements an organization or individual must comply with to ensure a base level of protection to the environment and workers.
Complying with EHS regulations is no small feat. Regulations can come down from the Federal Level (such as the Code of Federal Regulations, particularly CFR 29.40 and 49 in the United States) and the Federal Environmental Protection Act and Occupational Health and Safety Act (in Canada). Additional regulations can also come from individual States and Provinces as well as by-laws enacted at the local level by Municipalities.
However, following these regulations is generally the least an organization needs to do and many companies will consider following ‘best-practice’ policies and procedures to go above and beyond any legislative requirements.
What is EHS Management?
EHS Management is the discipline of identifying the EHS regulations that apply in each jurisdiction a company operates in. A company then develops and implements appropriate policies and procedures to meet the regulatory requirements and promote a culture that values worker safety and environmental responsibility.
What does an EHS Manager do?
An EHS manager ensures that a company operates in compliance with EHS regulations. The EHS Manager monitors industry best practices and works with senior management to identify which practices the company will adopt to further enhance their EHS performance. The EHS Manager also attends industry trade shows and association meetings to share experiences and stay current with the latest EHS technologies. They may also work with industry peers to advocate for changes or enhancements to regulations, as appropriate.
What is the difference between EHS, HSE, OHS, SAE etc?
There is essentially no difference between EHS, HSE, EOHS, SAE. EHS is Environment, Health and Safety, HSE is Health, Safety and Environment, EOHS is Environment and Occupational Health and Safety and SAE is Safety and Environment. Each is describing the same discipline of protecting the environment and human health and safety.
How does EHS relate to Real Estate?
EHS plays an important role in real estate. From an environmental standpoint, EHS programs ensure that the operations at the site do not impact the environmental quality of the property. This includes issues like preventing spills that could impact the soil and groundwater quality at the site, which in turn can degrade the value of the property, as cleanup of soil and groundwater contamination can be very expensive. Health and Safety in real estate is important to ensure that tenants and visiting customers enjoy a secure experience when they work at or visit a property.