Big brother is watching, but it’s not always a bad thing. Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) is a global, conscious driven movement that affects almost all industries in some form or another. Trained professionals, known as Environmental Health and Safety Specialists, have the unique understanding of worker protection and environmental regulations that keep facilities, both private and public, compliant with ever changing legislation. What does an EHS Specialist do?
Before we explain what an EHS Specialist (also known as an EHS manager) does, it’s important to understand what EHS is.
Environmental Health and Safety is an ever-evolving process driven concept aimed at creating safe and compliant work environments by recognizing hazards, enforcing stringent regulations, and minimizing potential liabilities to human and environmental health. The aim of EHS is to outline the processes, regulations, plans, and procedures that will protect workers, the general population, and the environment from the potential hazards associated with an entity’s use of hazardous materials.
The fines and environmental fallout for EHS violations and incidents can be significant. One such example was the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. This incident resulted in a major oil leak, spilling 30 million gallons into the Gulf over the first month and an estimated 184 million gallons overall. The aftermath was eye opening: the spill sickened and killed marine life, harmed coastal land along Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida, affected migratory birds, and resulted in the stranding of sea turtles, whales, and dolphins. BP was found to be negligent, and the financial repercussions began to add up. BP would go on to pay $4.5 billion in criminal fines and fees to the federal government and an additional $18.7 billion in a civil penalties. BP was also sued by thousands of private citizens, claiming economic and medical damages. This would cost BP another $12 billion, and these fines and payouts are not including the $67 billion in cleanup and mitigation costs.
An EHS Specialist’s Responsibility is to Strengthen Compliance
The role and responsibility of an EHS Specialist is to work within organizations to promote good practices that comply with safety and environmental regulatory guidelines. EHS specialists ensure that the actions of the represented organization do not contribute to environmental damage. EHS Specialists mitigate compliance violations and issues, align company policies to OSHA standards, ensure compliance and environmental health, audit and report on facility deficiencies that may lead to potential violations, and conduct risk assessments for operating procedures.
Risk assessment and management is a growing concern among EHS specialists. More and more, these specialists are recognizing that accidents or injuries can be traced back to a very specific event, location, and time. Potential failures cover a wide variety of risks, such as poorly maintained equipment, lax safety enforcement, dangerous working conditions, improper safety equipment, and machinery without proper safety features. EHS managers develop a risk-management strategy so their companies can avoid the inevitable fallout of an significant safety or environmental incident including lost profits, damaged reputation, and enormous fees and cleanup costs.
EHS Specialists Navigate the Ever-Changing Face of Regulatory Requirements
Did you know that twice a year, the Federal Register publishes lists of changing regulations and standards? With each spring and fall season comes another opportunity for safety-minded organizations to unwittingly violate new legislation. An EHS Specialist review applicable changes to regulatory framework and devises means for the company to stay remain compliant. They will also work to improve its reputation by showing ways to decrease its environmental footprint and increase environmental awareness.
Many industries are required by federal law to provide health and safety training to at-risk employees. An EHS trainer provides this service, educating health and safety managers and employees on workplace safety, legislative changes, OSHA training, and other public and environmental concerns. An EHS trainer isn’t directly responsible for the organization’s environmental and public health policies, but provides the valuable training necessary for those who enforce them.
Clym Environmental Services: Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians to Protect Your Organization
Clym Environmental Services provides EHS specialists, managers and trainers to guide organizations through the regulatory maze either via longer term contracts, or on a temporary basis as needed to support specific projects.
Clym’s specialists are experienced in managing chemical, radioactive, and biological materials and understand all industry-relevant regulations. Among many other support services, Clym offers:
- Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Inspections
- Safety Program Needs Assessment and Gaps Analysis
- Hazardous Materials Inventory, Receipt, and Transfer
- Waste Collection and Management Procedure Development
- On-site Compliance Services, Surveys, and Audits
- Instructor-led and Web-based Safety Training
Contact Clym for the customized solutions and support you need to stay compliant and protected through our highly qualified EHS specialists and trainers.